One of the fishing community’s greatest challenges is maintaining access to high-quality fishing experiences across Western Australia.
Be it from industrial development, the deterioration and subsequent closing of jetties and platforms, or marine park zones that prohibit fishing, recreational fishers face a constant uphill battle in being able to access the experiences we all love and cherish.
In the case of marine parks, Recfishwest has been at the coalface this year as we advocate strongly for a fair and reasonable outcome for fishers in two marine parks currently going through the consultation process.
One of these parks – The Marmion Marine Park – is currently located between Trigg and Ocean Reef and has been in place since 1987. As part of a 2019 commitment, the State Government announced in February plans to extend the marine park further north from Trigg up to Two Rocks.
Another new marine park is also being proposed on the south coast, between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border.
In order to assist recfishers having their say, Recfishwest have directly engaged fishers along the south coast and metropolitan regions, as well as undertaking two online surveys, aimed at highlighting the most important areas for recreational fishing in both areas covered by the proposed parks.
Recfishers were surveyed on numerous questions such as asking them to highlight specific fishing spots they enjoy in these areas, how often they fish, the species they target and what was most important to their fishing experiences, such as accessibility, health benefits and safety.
Thanks to the great survey feedback provided from 761 fishers across both areas, Recfishwest has been advocating to decision-makers to ensure recfishing values are understood throughout the planning process.
We are continuing to meet with the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and traditional owners to discuss what can be achieved in these marine parks when recfishing values are applied.
While marine parks are not a fisheries management tool, it is crucial that any zoning type that impacts on recreational fishing access must be justified by evidence, including how recreational fishing impacts upon the key values being protected.
Our surveys and meetings conducted in these areas underline the importance of recreational fishers being provided with an understanding around the process and rationale used to develop different zone types.
Extensive consultation processes are underway, in which Recfishwest is directly involved. Thanks to the feedback gathered below, Recfishwest will be in a stronger position to ensure recfishing values are well understood prior to draft marine park plans being released next year.
The release of these plans will provide further opportunity for fishers to put forward their point of view when it will again be important for the fishing community to have its collective say.
Marmion Marine Park Survey Findings
- 334 respondents identified 459 specific fishing areas important to them.
- Combinations of fishing types were favoured by some, but the survey was dominated by solely dedicated shore or boat-based fishers.
- Most important shore-based locations were aligned with access points, such as marinas and carparks.
- Most important boat-based locations include Hillarys to Mindarie, capturing locations such as Three-Mile Reef and Staggie Reef.
South Coast Marine Park Survey Findings
- 427 responses from mostly shore-based fishers only (169), closely followed by shore-based and boat-based fishers (147).
- 110 respondents fished at least 20 days per year or more.
- The majority of survey respondents fished between Bremer Bay and Cape Arid.
- Eastern sections of proposed marine parks were fished less due to limited boat launching opportunities but were still rated incredibly important for wilderness fishing experiences.
Most important factors to fishers across both proposed areas
- Easy accessibility to their favourite fishing spots, including boat ramps, four-wheel-drive tracks and launching sites.
- Spending quality time with friends and family.
- Being able to combine camping opportunities with fishing experiences.
- The mental and physical health benefits that fishing provides.
- Fishing safety.
Thanks to everyone involved with the fantastic feedback gathered above.
We will keep you updated on the planning processes for these marine parks and will ensure they are underpinned by peer-reviewed science and feedback from public consultation to improve recreational fishing experiences in these areas with no net loss of amenity.