Metro fishers urged to have their say on South Mole vehicle access

Cherished land-based fishing spot South Mole in Fremantle is now open to foot-traffic only after having been closed in mid-March.   

Recfishwest has requested Fremantle Ports restore vehicle access to South Mole and we strongly encourage all fishers to complete the survey from Fremantle Ports telling them the same thing. 


Fremantle Port’s decision to close South Mole for seven weeks was sparked by illegal camping, vandalism and anti-social behaviour.  

As one of the safest, most accessible and popular Metro land-based fishing spots, many fishers across multiple ages and abilities are concerned the current vehicle closure could become permanent.  

That is why Recfishwest is encouraging all fishers who have a strong attachment to South Mole to provide their feedback to Fremantle Ports before their survey closes on 6 June. Together we can make a strong case for vehicle access to South Mole to be restored.  

Fremantle Ports have reopened South Mole but to foot traffic only – meaning fishers with mobility issues who usually transport fishing gear by car to the popular land-based fishing spot are paying the price.

Numerous fishers have expressed their disappointment to Recfishwest about the loss of vehicle access, with senior fisher Graeme French – one of many passionate South Mole fishers – now worried about where he and his mates can fish comfortably.   

“I’m 70-years-old with mobility issues and South Mole was one place where I can easily get out of my car and fish. It’s good for my physical and mental health and I meet up regularly with old fishers there to swap stories, it’s a bit like a Men’s Shed for fishermen,” said Graeme. 

“There are limited fishing options for people with disabilities. I have not seen any of my friends at South Mole since the (vehicle) closure, which has affected my mental health and I suspect theirs to some degree.” 

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell commented, “South Mole offers great fishing for a range of popular species for fishers of all ages and abilities – now fishers are missing out because of the actions of some illegal campers.   

“Maintaining vehicle access for less able-bodied fishers such as the elderly or people with disabilities to the Mole is extremely important. Fishers should have the right to drive with their fishing gear and park alongside their fishing spot on the mole and wet a line with ease.” 

South Mole has been a cherished fishing hotspot for many decades and all fishers, particularly those with mobility issues, should be able to drive to their favourite fishing spot.

A strong connection to South Mole

South Mole has been a great spot to catch squid off the weed banks, bait-cast for tailor, burley up for herring and gardies or soak a bait for pink snapper for decades.  

Since numerous parking tickets didn’t persuade campers to vacate South Mole, Recfishwest asked Fremantle Ports Communications Manager Neil Stanbury if more vigilant patrols of the area or towing away campers’ cars could be a more substantial deterrent.  

“Let’s see what the public say. We certainly want the public to continue enjoying South Mole as they’ve done for decades, but Fremantle Ports also has to find a solution to the illegal camping and anti-social behaviour happening there,” said Neil.  

Recfishwest’s partners in Fishability – who provide fishing services for people with disabilities – have been negotiating with Fremantle Ports to install platforms on South Mole to cater for more fishers with disabilities with Recfishwest supporting this initiative.  

“North Mole currently possesses a disability platform and vehicle access and South Mole should be given the same amenities to better accommodate these fishers. We encourage all fishers to ask for this in their submissions and we’ll keep you posted on updates,” added Leyland.  

Fishers have until 6 June to have their say on public access to South Mole and Recfishwest is encouraging fishers to ask for vehicle access to be restored.

Westport: Putting dollars before Cockburn Sound’s marine environment?

Recfishwest is calling for an urgent review into how the Westport Taskforce determined its five options for the future of the WA freight trade.

The taskforce recently pumped out a series of e-newsletters outlining the five shortlisted options – all of which involved building a new container port in Cockburn Sound.

Having sifted through their rationale for these options, it appears to us that the taskforce has gone against the community’s wishes and placed “commercial viability” of any port development way above the environmental impact on the Sound.

The taskforce came up with its shortlist by rating each proposed development option against a series of criteria – each ranked by importance through what it called a ‘multi-criteria analysis’ (MCA).

Unfortunately for the environment, the weightings used in this process were severely biased towards economic considerations at the expense of environmental ones as the table below shows. In the MCA weightings, the marine environment was ranked way down the list of importance at fourth and the terrestrial environment even further down at equal fifth.

Yet, this flies in the face of a community survey the taskforce carried out, which showed the environment was the community’s number one concern with 55% of respondents listing the environment as their primary concern in any port development.

Furthermore, a Westport Taskforce report released in December 2018 (link below) rated Cockburn Sound with significantly more environmental and social value than Fremantle or Bunbury – both locations which figured as alternative locations for an expanded port in the Taskforce’s original list of options.

Find the Westport Taskforce Report from December 2018 here

In an attempt to justify this disregard of the Sound’s environmental values and the community’s wishes, the taskforce gave this statement, “It is critical that Westport delivers an outcome that is financially responsible for the State…the final option must be commercially viable and affordable for the long-term”.

In light of this statement, Recfishwest has two questions for the taskforce:

  • Why is the taskforce seemingly placing commercial viability above Cockburn Sound’s sustainability?
  • On whose authority can it say the pursuit of dollars should come above protecting the home to the largest spawning aggregations of pink snapper on the West Coast and numerous fish species (including blue swimmer crabs) that rely on the Sound’s seagrass meadows for their survival?

Governments can only make good decisions when they are provided with good advice and the weightings used in the taskforce’s shortlisting process make it impossible to provide the government with good advice.

The taskforce appears to have made an assumption on behalf of the State Government that prioritises economics over the environment. The Government needs to be clear about whether they agree with Recfishwest and the community that Cockburn Sound’s precious marine environment must come first or whether they back the taskforce’s view that “commercial viability” trumps sustainability.

There are many places a port can be built, however, there is only one Cockburn Sound, which provides great, accessible fishing experiences for tens of thousands of recreational fishers every year. When the environment takes a back seat, we all lose.

We are therefore calling for an immediate review of the weightings used in the MCA process and greater transparency about the criteria, scores and justifications contained in the process.

Cockburn Sound is under enormous cumulative pressure from a whole range of sources, but rest assured we will always fight to ensure the Sound is protected.

Click here read our position on Protecting Cockburn Sound and the Outer Harbour project