Recfishwest calls on Government to listen to local fishers and re-think illogical and unjustifiable no fishing zones

Recfishwest says that some of the proposed no-fishing zones in the Government’s South Coast Marine Park plans released today are “completely illogical and unjustifiable”.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “Proposing no fishing zones in front of caravan parks, boat ramps and along several popular beaches demonstrates marine park planners in Perth are out of touch with the south coast community.

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“We stand firmly for sustainability; however, we cannot support the marine parks in their current form.

“None of the evidence we have seen supports the need to implement no fishing zones over the top of places where people have fished for generations, and they simply cannot be justified.

“The Government must genuinely engage with the local community – if they had done this in the first place, they would not be proposing to implement these zones where they have.”

SEE A MAP OF THE PROPOSED MARINE PARK ZONES HERE (the green zones are the proposed no fishing zones).

 

Orleans Bay Caravan Park sees thousands of mums, dads and kids venturing down each year to enjoy the great fishing on offer from the beach and off boats. If implemented in their current form, several of the proposed marine park zones will see great fishing experiences like this off limits to fishing families along the south coast.

In December, the Environment Minister Reece Whitby is on record saying that the Government “had listened to recreational fishers” and that fishers would “be impressed by what they see at the other end.”

“We confirm that we are not impressed by what we see in these proposals,” said Dr Rowland, “The views of local fishers have clearly been ignored and it’s now time the Government genuinely starts listening.

“We ask the Government to seriously re-think several zones and join us at the table to deliver a truly positive outcome for fishers, the environment and our future.”

“These plans are now open for public comment until 16 June and Recfishwest encourages all fishers with an interest in this coast to study the details and engage in the consultation process.”

Recfishwest will be on the south coast this week encouraging locals to have their say over the coming four months. Make sure you join our Cast of Thousands as a Recfishwest member to help us protect access to our prized fishing spots.

South Coast Marine Park public consultation postponed until early 2024

The Minister for the Environment Reece Whitby has pushed back the date for the release of the proposed south coast marine park plan for public consultation to early February next year.

It was widely anticipated that the plans would be released before the end of 2023, but Minister Whitby, speaking on ABC Regional Drive, announced the decision to delay the release until next year.

He said, “I understand that people go away on holidays and have other issues on their mind and want to get away and relax a bit. So, I think an appropriate time would be in the New Year after the school holidays. I think early February is about the right time.”

The Minister was responding to questions around the consultation process to date that has caused widespread concerns within the south coast community that there is a pre-determined outcome for the marine park design.

Minister Whitby said, “What people will see in the new year is a more refined approach – we have listened…there’s been a lot of concessions and I think people will be impressed what they see at the other end.”

He added, “I’ve worked very closely with the Fisheries Minister Don Punch to get the absolute best outcome for all involved – we’ve made significant ground into satisfying the request of the fishing industry and recreational fishers.”

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland is just one of thousands of fishers who enjoys wetting a line along our picturesque south coast, with access to many cherished fishing destinations potentially under threat from the Government’s proposed south coast marine park.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “While it is encouraging to hear Minister Whitby say that the Government is listening to south coast fishers and taking on board our concerns, we will reserve judgment until we see the plans that go out for public consultation in the New Year.

“We have been here before with previous marine park proposals where we’ve been told our input has been taken on board only to see extensive no fishing zones without any justification to be included in plans for consultation and crucially into the final marine park designs.

“One thing is clear, we will need to make sure our collective voice as fishers is heard when the time comes to get a balanced marine park that can protect the environment without robbing hard-working south coast people of their favourite fishing spots.

“I encourage all fishers to join our cast of thousands as Recfishwest member and continue to keep up to date with developments through our channels.”

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Esperance land-based comp shows exactly why fishing access must be maintained on the south coast

If you want a perfect example of why land-based fishing access and experiences need to be protected on the south coast – then the recent Esperance Land Based Fishing Club‘s Open Classic competition rang the bell loud and clear.   

With 130 avid fishers competing, their hopes of snagging some impressive competition prizes rested on their cherished land-based fishing spots producing the goods for solid catches of fish species that thrive along the south coast – and it was another cracking year.  

The club offered fantastic cash rewards for the heaviest fish across 13 species, meaning all competitors had equal opportunities to bring the heaviest fish to the weigh-in and leave with heavier wallets.  

With junior and senior divisions for each species, there was a great opportunity for fishers both experienced and emerging to wet a line along the pristine southern coastline to land the biggest catches of mulloway, salmon, gummy shark, tailor, skippy, herring, whiting and squid – just to name a few.  

It wasn’t just prizes for the heaviest catches up for grabs – the club also had a best photo competition with the judging criteria based on showing off the beautiful Esperance coastline and the spectacular fish that flourishes along it, with Billy Vibart’s youngster Frankie taking out the honours with the cracking salmon/sunset combo pictured below! 

Feast your eyes on the Esperance Classic photo comp winner, with young Frankie Vibart highlighting why fishing experiences and the crucial health benefits it provides along the south coast need to be protected for future generations.

Given many of the local community’s favourite fishing spots both on the shore and out on the ocean are in areas where the Government has flagged sanctuary zones in the proposed south coast marine park, Recfishwest also attended the event to ensure attendees understand what is at stake and encouraged them to comment on the plans once they are released.   

Recfishwest’s Sam Bock – an Esperance local who spent his childhood fishing on the south coast – ventured down to enjoy the great fishing on offer and spoke directly to the bustling crowd to reiterate the importance of having their say when the marine park plans stretching over 1,000km between east of  Bremer Bay and the South Australian border are released.  

“It is very likely contestants were fishing in areas that could soon be sanctuary zones, meaning they would be locked out of wetting a line in that area,” said Sam. “That’s why it’s crucial we receive feedback from locals that live and breathe the unique coastal and fishing lifestyle down here and for them to speak out on what areas are important to them.” 

“We’ve seen from other marine park processes that feedback gathered during the public consultation period can make a significant difference in final plans. The more people that have their say, the better the odds that their fishing access is retained, which would provide a better outcome for locals and safeguard the great fishing experiences generated by southern competitions like the Esperance Classic.”  

We have written to the Premier and had discussions with Minister’s Whitby and Punch intending to get the consultation process back on track after locals expressed their deep concerns that their favourite freedoms such as four-wheel-driving on the beach and taking their dogs to their prized fishing spots could be quashed given the DBCA’s reputation in park management.

To read our concerns on the proposed south coast marine park and for a rundown on the DBCA’s track record on park management, click here.  

President of Esperance Land Based Fishing Club, Mitch Waideman, said the 130 competitors this year was the biggest seen in the Classic’s history and that comes down to the current great access and options to choose from for fishing spots along the south coast.  

“We had a lot of people from all over the south coast and Kalgoorlie come down because they have so many spots to choose from and people can spread out and fish the beaches they want completely on their own. That’s why people are worried about this marine park – they don’t know what’s coming and how access will be affected,” said Mitch.  

“We are crossing our fingers that our access to our favourite fishing spots is unaffected by this proposed marine park. Our ability to be able to go down and throw a line in the water is what we enjoy – we don’t want to be bottled up into little areas.”  

The south coast’s great fishing experiences on full display 

As seen each year during the Open Classic competition, the catches came thick and fast which saw hundreds of locals gather round for a gander during the final weigh-in.  

Steven Howe caught the heaviest gummy shark and heaviest fish for the Classic, closely followed by Billy Vibart with his 12.3kg catch (pictured below).  

Billy Vibart finished runner-up in the heaviest gummy shark category, with this solid 12.3kg specimen.

The consistent West Aussie salmon action continued to show off its might on the south coast as well, with Lachlan Warren catching the heaviest of the hard-fighting species with a 4.465kg whopper, while Paul Jameson finished runner up with a 3.953kg salmon. 

A great mix of species variety was seen during the recent Esperance Land Based Fishing Club’s Open Classic, with loads of fishers experiencing the fruitful fishing opportunities on the south coast.

Congratulations to all winners of the Esperance Classic and make sure you keep checking our channels to keep up to speed with developments and information on how to make a submission to DBCA through its public consultation portal.  

For a full rundown of all category winners from the Esperance Classic, check out the Esperance Land Based Fishing Club Facebook page