Bag limit increase from 12 to 20 recognises the value of herring to West Aussie recfishers

Recfishwest welcomes the latest announcement from Fisheries Minister Don Punch, who announced the bag limit for herring – ‘the people’s fish’ – has officially increased from 12 to 20 as of Saturday, October 1.  

A good outcome for fishers, it maximises the benefits of the fish for the community, while ensuring its sustainability, with stocks more than amply recovered to a sufficient level to continue growing while supporting the increased bag limit.  

The decision to increase the bag limit to 20 came after Recfishwest recommended the change to the Minister having gauged the views of more than 4,000 recreational fishers who provided us their views through our herring bag limit survey.  

Herring are one of the most easy-to-catch and accessible species across WA.

Maximising social and economic benefits

It also follows the Government’s decision to prioritise herring for recreation and human consumption in line with the current Fisheries Act which legally obliges the State Government of the day to achieve “the optimum economic, social and other benefits from the use of fish resource.”  

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “This is a great outcome and shows what a sensible fisheries management approach can achieve that recognises and takes on board the input of recreational fishers.  

“We hope the Minister can adopt a similar sensible approach in arriving at a decision for the west coast demersal scalefish fishery that can balance the need to speed up the recovery of the stock without wrecking the lifestyle and livelihoods of tens of thousands of recreational fishers. 

“Let’s not forget that at one point prior to the management changes being made in 2015, Fisheries put a three-month closure on the table for herring that included the Easter holidays – a traditional time where West Aussie kids fish with their families to get a feed of herring.  

“Thankfully that initial herring proposal didn’t proceed as the Department listened to the views of the community and found a ‘better way’ to protect sustainability without destroying the social benefits – this is exactly what needs to be done with the proposed nine-month closure for west coast demersals.  

“We are currently in discussions with the Minister and the Department to hopefully arrive at a more balanced and sensible outcome for west coast demersal just as we did with herring.”  

Herring are one of the most important fish species in WA as they act as a gateway into fishing, especially for young children.

“A sensible and balanced outcome”

Fisheries Minister Don Punch said, “With the herring recovery backed by the latest scientific stock assessment, Recfishwest requested the daily herring bag limit increase from 12 to 20. I am very pleased we can make this change, which will enable fishers to catch an ample feed for themselves and their family.”  

Read Don Punch’s full media release here 

Andrew added, “Herring gives great fishing memories to a wide range of angling families across the State and this crucial species has given many a young angler’s first love for fishing given their abundance and accessibility.   

“It doesn’t matter if you’re new to fishing or an experienced angler, all fishers love catching herring, which are good-eating and are a frequent catch off most of WA’s jetties, beaches and rock walls.  

“Thank you to all recreational fishing community members for your input into this decision. It’s great to see your efforts have been recognised and rewarded in recovering this fishery. We will continue to make sure there are plenty of herring around for future generations to enjoy forever.”  

Proposed west coast demersal nine month ban? There is a better way.

Following last week’s shock announcement about the Government’s proposed nine-month west coast demersal scalefish ban, Recfishwest has written to Minister Punch. We have asked him to explain how the package of 17 recommendations we put forward in July did not meet the Government’s catch reduction targets.

Our recommendations were developed after months of hard work, working through the responses from the biggest recreational fishing survey in WA history and with months of considered input from our West Coast Demersal Expert Working Group.

READ THE PACKAGE OF WEST COAST DEMERSAL RECOMMENDATIONS WE MADE TO GOVERNMENT HERE 

Recfishwest has also asked the Minister to restore the public comment period back to six weeks as originally agreed, rather than the four that the Government has now made it.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said, “The Government’s current proposals largely ignored key recommendations put forward by Recfishwest – including a dhufish spawning closure during the peak spawning time. Instead, the Government is asking fishers to choose between two totally unacceptable options that will cause a huge amount of social pain and economic hardship.

“We worked in good faith over the last few months, yet after all the input from the community and the constructive solutions put forward, we learnt through the media that our package was deemed by the Minister to be insufficient to achieve the desired catch reductions. We have not been informed how each element of our package was assessed and exactly where the package was deemed to have fallen short of meeting the challenge set by the Minister.”

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT – RECFISHWEST ON NINE NEWS

Recfishwest has already been contacted by hundreds of fishers concerned about the impact a nine-month closure will have on their way of life, as well as regional caravan park owners, charter operators and tackle shop owners who hold grave concerns about the future of their businesses if these proposals are implemented.

There is a better way

Andrew said, “Without question there is a better way to speed up the rebuilding of these fish stocks – which are not in ‘decline’ as has been suggested in the media. The fishery is clearly sustainable with DPIRD’s latest State of the Fisheries report classifying this fishery as ‘recovering at an acceptable rate’.

“Only giving fishers the choice between an eight or a nine-month ban is simply unacceptable, especially while we know our package will achieve the required outcomes with much less economic and social carnage. We have asked the Government to explain how our recommendations were assessed and where they fall short.”

What you can do

Recfishwest will continue to communicate with the fishing community on our course of action right through the consultation period and beyond.  Many people are asking how they contact their local MP to let them know how the proposals will impact them and their families. If you need tips on how to reach out to your local MP, our guidelines here should help.

“We appreciate your support and we’ll stand strong to protect your fishing experiences and the fish stocks upon which these experiences rely,” said Andrew.

Canning Bridge closure – Recfishwest seeks answers from Main Roads WA

‘KEEP OUT – FISHING PLATFORM CLOSED’ – these are the stark words that have confronted disappointed Canning Bridge fishing regulars on arrival at their favourite fishing spot in the last couple of weeks.

The local land-based fishing platform at Canning Bridge is now off limits to the public.

The iconic fishing platform was suddenly closed to anglers in mid-July after an assessment by Main Roads WA of the bridge’s timber piles and steel bracings which support the fishing platform were deemed as unsafe.

The timber fishing platform under the heritage-listed bridge itself has long been a favourite spot for land-based anglers to drop a line in the Canning River, targeting bream, flathead, tailor, mulloway and other species.

“The lack of notice around this closure is disappointing, especially as this location has been a key fishing spot for generations,” said Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell.

“Popular land-based fishing platforms like this are hugely important for metro-based anglers, particularly for those who don’t own a boat.

“The fishing platform is listed on the state heritage register, confirming its importance not just for fishing but as part of our wider culture. It is important we see access restored to the Canning Bridge fishing platform as soon as possible.”

When can we fish again under Canning Bridge?

A major refurbishment of the platform is required as there are no strengthening options to maintain the platform. As a result, the platform itself could collapse, resulting in injuries to anyone accessing the platform.

Like any timber structure, the fishing platform requires maintenance. As the platform is underwater and exposed to the elements, this maintenance can be challenging as work crews are mostly underwater.

Main Roads advised the platform is starting to rot from the inside out, essentially becoming hollow while appearing structurally sound at first glance above the waterline.

The fishing platform has produced quality fish over the years, including this huge mulloway caught by Ashley Fitzgerald last year.

According to the Main Roads spokesperson, the maintenance work is expected to take between three to six months.

During that time, Main Roads will repair or replace the bridge’s timber piles as well as the timber and steel bracings which support the platform. This will involve temporary removal of the fishing platform along with inspections, repairs or replacement of defective components.

On completion of the substructure repairs, Main Roads will reinstate the timber deck of the fishing platform.

Recfishwest will be watching developments closely and be asking some serious questions of Main Roads if access is not restored to anglers to the fishing platform within an acceptable timeframe.

Leyland said, “Thanks very much to all of you who reached out to us about this issue – we will keep you updated as this situation develops. It’s important that fishers continue to be vigilant and speak up to protect not just our favourite fishing spots but also important parts of our fishing culture and heritage.”

In its 83-year history, the Canning Bridge has provided great fishing memories to many generations.

Scott’s Stories – The importance of fishing for mental health

For some people fishing is just a hobby or a pastime, but for leading Queensland marine biologist Daryl McPhee, it was a genuine life-saver.

The health and well-being benefits of fishing are often forgotten when discussing the role it plays in our lives, but Daryl knows from his own experience just what that can mean.

Now based at Bond University, he is one of Australia’s leading experts on the marine environment, including having worked with the WA State Government on shark mitigation policy, but as a youngster Daryl found himself in the heartbreaking position of being homeless.

With an alcoholic mother, a teenage Daryl turned to fishing as a way to feed himself, leading to lifetime love of our pastime.

A young Daryl McPhee with a Spanish mackerel

Daryl recently recounted his remarkable life story, and the crucial part fishing played in it, to ABC Radio.

“I had a passion for marine science as a little kid,” he said.

“My father committed suicide when I was 18 months of age. He was an alcoholic.

“I wasn’t introduced to it by my parents; I just love fish and fishing and everything started from there.”

At the age of 13, Daryl and his mum were evicted from their rental property in Sydney and headed to Brisbane, forcing him to live in a crisis shelter.

He had a fishing rod and would catch the train to a spot where he would fish to feed himself while also studying at a local high school.

“In the early years I didn’t go (to school) too much, because I didn’t have money to do things like excursions,” he said.

“I’d go fishing for food, because fishing became the way that I fed myself.”

Ultimately, Daryl realised education was the key to a better life and studied diligently, choosing science for a career and graduating from University of Queensland with three degrees.

His mother passed away after a prolonged illness related to alcohol, but she would be proud of her son’s achievements, in which fishing still features prominently.

“As I’ve come to realise through my own academic studies, fishing is very important in terms of mental health, particularly (for) men,” he said.

“A lot of men aren’t happy or predisposed to want to do things like yoga etc, but fishing is a mindfulness activity that works well for a lot of men.”

Darryl has recognised how important fishing is for his mental health and others – particularly men.

Daryl has passed the love of fishing onto his children, and takes great pride in posting pictures of their latest catches to his Facebook page.

Like he did all those years ago when he had nothing else, their catches are usually destined for the family table, where they are greatly appreciated.

Daryl himself still fishes every week and also enjoys taking some of his students fishing.

Better management of toxic algal blooms in Swan-Canning river systems needed

For Perth’s legions of crabbing enthusiasts, it is small consolation the Department of Health (DoH) has finally lifted their health advice around consuming fish, crabs and other shellfish from large parts of the Swan-Canning system almost two months since the toxic algae Alexandrium has been detected at levels that warrant a health alert.

For the last six months, many Perth fishers have effectively been hit with a fishing closure in large parts of the middle and lower Swan and Canning rivers due to high levels of the algae.

Starting in mid-December the DoH issued a series of alerts warning people not to eat fish, crabs and shellfish from large sections of first the Swan and then later the Canning as “ingestion of toxins produced by the microscopic algae Alexandrium could produce a type of poisoning known as paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).”

Simply locking recfishers out of the fishery for months at a time isn’t a good enough management strategy.

While there are still a few crabs around, the prime months for targeting the Swan’s famously big blue swimmer crabs are unfortunately well and truly behind us. This is the second successive year elevated levels of Alexandrium have substantially disrupted summer crabbing activities in what is the metro’s favourite fishing playground – the “jewel in the city’s fishing crown” as WA angling journalist Scott Coghlan recently described it.

In both years, the strategy to manage these algal blooms can be summed up as “monitor algae levels and wait for late autumn rain to come to flush the algae out of the system.” While Recfishwest welcomes all the sampling that has occurred over the last six months, there is a pressing need for management to do more than simply wait for winter rain. Any resource management plan worth its salt must address the needs of its stakeholders – the river is something we should all be able to enjoy and it is simply not good enough that the recfishing community is not able to access a large section of the river during the peak fishing season.

A more proactive approach required

Recfishwest  wants to see a much more proactive approach to the management of the Swan-Canning system with a framework that doesn’t lock us out of the fishery for months at a time – particularly if these blooms are going to become more frequent thanks to environmental change and predicted lower river flows. An open review of the way the sampling results inform the issuing and removal of health warnings needs to take place and a much more defined and transparent set of management actions linked to agreed trigger points for algae levels needs to be developed.

Reopening Cockburn Sound to recreational crabbing

If large parts of the Swan and the Canning River become off limits for crabbing for significant periods of the year, fishers are going to need somewhere they can go and re-opening Cockburn Sound is an obvious option that should be progressed as a matter of priority. We have been told the process to buy-back commercial crab fishing licences in Cockburn Sound following management changes announced in November, is progressing, however, the impact Alexandrium is having on Swan River crabbers provides a compelling reason to fast-track this process.

Blue swimmer crabs are the number one species targeted by recfishers and the Swan-Canning system is one of the State’s most important rec fisheries. Giving recfishers access to crabbing in the Sound again would go some way to offset the loss of access to the Swan and Canning as a result of Alexandrium and would demonstrate a much better management approach than simply praying for rain.

Catching blue swimmer crabs like these provides our kids with a genuine sense of connection to the outstanding natural environment the Swan-Canning supports on their doorstep.
Black bream are just one of the many species recfishers flock to the Swan and Canning rivers to target.

 

FADs in focus: State-wide trial program update

Following the launch of our trial FADs network back in November last year, we are getting excited to be in a position to deploy four new FADs off Exmouth opening up more fantastic fishing opportunities for local and visiting boat fishers.

We were very close to rolling this latest round of FADs in our State-wide network – but with cyclonic conditions forecast in the north of the State, we took the decision to hang fire until the weather conditions settled.

Imagine catching billfish off the Exmouth FADs!?

But everything is in place and once the conditions are favourable, deployment will go ahead with the new FADs catering for those who intend to target a range of highly-sought after pelagic species.

While species such as dolphinfish and tuna are expected to be encountered around those FADs located closer to shore, those located further offshore are expected to attract bigger species such as wahoo, yellowfin tuna and marlin.

The Exmouth FADs deployment has been a long-time coming, with the community asking for them for a number of years and it’s another example of how recfishing licence fees can be used to create fantastic new sports fishing opportunities aggregating abundant schools of fast-growing, spectacular-fighting pelagic species.

Delivering on our FADs promise

We promised a trial State-wide FADs network and that’s exactly what we’re delivering- once they go in off Exmouth, we’ll have deployed FADs in four different locations in the southern half of the State (off the north metro, south west of Rotto, Cape Naturaliste and Albany) and Exmouth in the north, with Geraldton and Broome to follow soon.

We have also received positive reports from fishers in the south, with fish, mostly dolphinfish being caught off both the Albany and Cape Naturaliste FADs. The Perth metro FADs are also firing, with plenty of fishers getting amongst the action and landing some great dolphinfish and tuna.

Learning the lessons

This FAD program was always designed as a trial. We’ve deployed different types of FADs in different locations to assess their suitability. Unfortunately, this has meant some break-off’s. Currently, we have had two FADs break away from Albany, one of which has been replaced in a more suitable location, and one break away from south west of Rottnest, which has yet to be replaced.

Due to all our FADs having trackers placed inside them, we are able to track wayward FADs, and when conditions are suitable, we’re able to recover them with the assistance of Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan and some of our supporters in the region – thanks, guys – your efforts were greatly appreciated! We will continue to refine locations and the design of these FADs to improve their ability to aggregate fish, but to also improve their robustness. This enables them to be deployed for longer periods of time, even in particularly heavy seas, such as those experienced along the south coast.

Gero and Broome FADs coming soon

By the time you read this article, Recfishwest will be closer to deploying FADs off Geraldton and Broome. We plan on deploying one FAD closer inshore to Geraldton and the remaining three, west of the Abrolhos Islands, in the hope of attracting larger gamefish. The Broome FADs in particular are somewhat of an experiment, as we’re deploying them in shallow water, relatively close to shore making them easily accessible to fishers in all boat sizes including tinnies. This presents the tantalising prospect of opening up some great bait-holding potential to enhance fishing action for pelagic species within just a quick run-out from the shore.

Hit up the fab FADs photo comp

Want to be in the mix to win a Shimano Stella 4000 in our fabulous FADs photo comp?  We have made the entry conditions as easy as possible so more of you can enter and be in for the running for this top of the line reel, which is also perfect for taming any small to medium-sized pelagics you might encounter while fishing the FADs. This competition will be running till June 30 and includes all FADs deployed across Western Australia.

So, here are some basic rules and what you need to send us to be in the running:

  • A high-quality picture of a fish caught at any of the FADs deployed across the State (see contact details below);
  • In your picture make sure the FAD is clearly visible in the background;
  • If the fish is bleeding heavily, wash away excess blood before taking the photo;
  • Fish must be caught during the competition time;
  • Unlimited entries per fisher;
  • Competition is open to both line and spear fishers;
  • By entering you waive any intellectual rights to the image and agree to us to use the image you sent for any of our promotional materials including all of our digital channels and for any content we provide for external publications

Email in your high-quality pictures to aaron@recfishwest.org.au

Now, it’s over to you – get out there, give the FADS a crack and let us know how you go – we’d love to hear from you and see some of your pics of prized catches on the new FADs.

Clay Lewis with a nice metro FAD dollie and in the mix to win a Stella 5000!

The Great Southern Salmon Campout 2020

Fancy a crack at catching one the best land-based sportfish in the world? Would you like to learn some cool tips and tricks to improve your salmon fishing, including lure and bait fishing, beach casting tuition and how to prepare and fillet your fish?

This years 3rd annual Salmon Campout at Cheynes Beach Caravan Park is a must entry in your fishing calendar. It kicks off on Friday afternoon 27 March through to lunchtime on Sunday 29 March.

The Great Southern Salmon Campout is designed for education, appreciation and loads of fun with your friends and family!

The event only costs $80 per adult or $40 per child, has plenty of activities to keep you busy and your mind on fishing the whole weekend. Camping or cabin accommodation is available at Cheynes Beach Caravan Park. Please contact them directly to book accommodation.

The weekend will include the following:

  • Complimentary BBQ Dinner on the Friday Night – meet and greet
  • Registration pack including information and Recfishwest’s top Salmon lures
  • Demo and ‘How To’ workshops:
  • Lure casting for salmon – rigging and lure selection
  • Bait fishing for salmon – bait rigging and gear selection
  • 4×4 safety
  • Beach casting tuition
  • Fish filleting and preparation

 

You will have the opportunity to learn new skills from industry experts, fish from world class beaches and make memories that will last forever.

If this sounds like your kind of adventure, make sure you get in quick and register!

Click here to register!

Ticket sales end 22nd March 2019.