Giving some mussel muscle to the Peel-Harvey inlet

Thanks to jetty owners throughout the Peel-Harvey estuary near Mandurah, shellfish numbers have taken a boost and are supporting native fish populations in the region.  

The reason behind the growing mussel abundance comes down to a clever initiative called ‘Pimp My Jetty’ – created by Ozfish, and supported by Recfishwest, which involved jetty owners agreeing to host a hanging shellfish habitat such as natural ropes under their private jetty.  

The fibres of the rope provide an ideal surface for mussel larvae and for maturing mussels to grow on. As more mussels create homes on the new hanging habitats, it leads to more mussel spat in the estuary and helps to revive the once thriving shellfish population. 

The mussels also improve water quality through filtering it and provide an increased high-quality food source and better habitats that supports black bream and other native fish species such as tailor, herring, whiting, flathead and others.  

More mussels mean more fish, which is a win-win for recreational fishers and the water quality of the estuary. 

The naturally occurring fibres from ropes (pictured left) create an ideal surface for mussels to latch on to, leading to an abundance of shellfish (pictured right) and fish species over time.

Steve Pursell, OzFish Program Manager for WA, believes the success of this year’s project underlines what can be achieved when recreational fishers, local communities, and scientists work together.  

“We have been pleased by the numbers of private jetty owners who came forward to be involved – it shows they understand the importance of healthy habitats in our waterways,” he said.  

“Not only do mussels play a key role in filtering and improving the water quality, research shows they once made up 64 per cent of black bream’s diet in the area but that is now as low as 19 per cent. By restoring habitat, our volunteers are helping to create better fishing,” said Steve.  

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell said, “Estuaries such as those located in the Peel-Harvey region are crucial for providing easy access to great fishing spots and as nursery habitats for key recreational species.  

“Thanks to initiatives like Pimp My Jetty, we not only help restore a valuable food source for fish like black bream, tailor and others, but it also helps improve the water quality and directly benefits the fishing action in the area. 

“The Mandurah estuary is an incredibly unique angling destination for crabbing and yellowfin whiting fishing on surface lures and poppers during the warmer months. Fishers can feel comfortable knowing these kinds of projects will improve these crucial fishing experiences over time.  

“Thanks to all the friendly Peel-Harvey locals who own a jetty and their collaboration with Ozfish, they are helping breathe more life into our estuaries.”  

The Harvey-Peel Estuary in Mandurah has been a much-loved fishing spot for generations and the Pimp My Jetty initiative from Ozfish will help anglers such as Harry Tropiano (pictured right) catch more black bream and other species.

The Pimp My Jetty project is funded by Recfishwest, Navico, the Western Australian Government’s Royalties for Regions program, and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing. It is supported by Peel Harvey Catchment Council. 

Find out more about Ozfish’s ‘Pimp My Jetty’ initiative here 

Tender announced for state-of-the-art recfishing-friendly jetty in Esperance

In a great win for recfishers in the Goldfields-Esperance region, the Shire of Esperance has announced a tender to replace the old Tanker Jetty with a state-of-the-art structure with recreational fishing accessibility and features at the heart of its design.

Recfishwest were consulted by Albany-based H+H Architects at key stages throughout the design process and we are pleased to see our input and recommendations appear to have been very much taken on board.

Once built, the 400m long $7.5m jetty will incorporate a number of fishing experience-enhancing features including:

  • A widened modern fishing jetty component which will allow enough space for fishers to fish either side of the gangway;
  • Lower platforms to accommodate fishing and diving access;
  • Fishability ‘set-downs’ to allow people in wheelchairs and scooters to fish easily from the jetty;
  • Jetty-based fish-cleaning station positioned over water;
  • Fish-friendly lighting to fishing areas; and
  • Fisher-friendly railings and built-in fishing seats.
The design concept for the new jetty by H+H Architects featuring many fishing experience-enhancing features.

There was a local community outcry when the 84-year-old jetty was closed in December 2015 due to being in a state of disrepair that left it posing an “extreme risk”.

The jetty had long been an iconic fishing spot and its closure left a big hole in available accessible fishing spots for local fishers and visiting tourists keen on wetting a line.

South East Coast Recreational Fishing Council President Graham Cooper told Recfishwest the Esperance community was pleased the new jetty had taken a step closer to becoming a reality.

“A good, safe fishing platform in Esperance is a must for the local community and tourism – particularly for young fishers as there are limited land-based options in the area,” he said.

Recfishwest support the investment in facilities that make fishing accessible to everyone in the community and we gave our official backing to the Shire to secure funding for the project.

We believe once constructed the new jetty will revive and revitalise a key community fishing hub and help bring valuable dollars to the local economy through bait and tackle sales and tourism.

One potential downside to the design for the new jetty is that at least initially it won’t be as long as the old jetty which gave access to fishers to deeper water and species like Samson fish and tuna.

But the widening of the jetty will allow more fishers access onto the jetty and our understanding is that the design could allow for future extension of the structure.

While there is a way to go yet before the dream of a new Esperance jetty is realised – the announcement of a five-week tender for its construction and the Shire’s commitment to a 10-step plan for the deconstruction of the old jetty and its replacement with a new ýoubeaut’ one is great news for the recfishing community.

The design concept for the new jetty by H+H Architects featuring many fishing experience-enhancing features.

For many decades the old Tanker Jetty provided immense value to generations of recreational fishers from all walks of life, some chasing a feed of herring to enjoy with their family and friends and others endlessly casting stickbaits off the end for that elusive bonito.

It was also enjoyed by divers, snorkelers, walkers and nature enthusiasts, many of the latter which were charmed by the resident sea lion.

With a design that incorporates heritage values and, once built, will incorporate some of the recycled materials from the original jetty, it is hoped the new structure will continue to add to the old Tanker Jetty’s legacy.

Recfishwest will continue to monitor the progress of the project ensuring it moves along to a successful outcome for the fishing community and for the local economy with the dollars that recfishers bring to the town and the region.

Photo credit top banner image: Michele Campbell