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 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.”
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!
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).
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.
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.
Recfishwest understands plans for both the new South Coast Marine Park and the extension to Marmion Marine Park are to be released for public comment as early as October.
And it’s going to be crucial for the tens of thousands who fish along the north metro and south coasts to stand up and make their voices heard to protect access to some of the most valuable and popular fishing spots in these areas.
In recent months, we’ve highlighted the south coast community’s concerns around the consultation process going off the rails and the potential loss of some of the region’s fishing and beach access through a potentially heavily unbalanced marine park design.
Given what’s happened with the south coast marine park consultation process to date, Recfishwest also has concerns about how the extension to Marmion Marine Park will impact fishing access along the northern suburban coast.
Currently the Marmion Marine Park, originally established in 1987, covers the area from Trigg Point to Burns Beach.
However, a review of the management plan for the Marmion Marine Park was triggered in 2019 following 143 hectares of the marine park being excised to develop the Ocean Reef Marina, resulting in the destruction of 12 hectares of prime abalone habitat.
This resulted in proposals by the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to near-quadruple the area covered by the marine park, extending it to north of Two Rocks.
Defending our fishing freedom
While we will only see the proposed no fishing areas within the new marine park boundaries once the plans are released for public comment, another overreach by DBCA could see an extensive loss of fishing freedom within the extended marine park.
“Perth’s northern suburbs are the gateway to one of our great city’s playgrounds, where tens of thousands of fishers access the high-quality fishing experiences this stretch of coast has to offer both on and off the shore,” said Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell.
“Recreational fishers were among the first to support the creation of Marmion Marine Park more than 30 years ago, and any extension to this park must balance conservation with needs of the community. “These needs include those of the tens of thousands of mums, dads and kids who enjoy fishing in this area for abundant bread and butter species like squid, herring, whiting and rock lobster.
“We share the community’s concerns that what is planned could be another overreach heavily restricting fishing access in the park – given DBCA are proposing to replace every hectare of marine park lost as a result of the Ocean Reef development with 175 hectares of new marine park.
“That’s why we strongly urge all metro fishers to be ready to make your voices heard by providing feedback to DBCA when the time comes and contacting your local MP to tell them how important fishing is to you in this area.
“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.”
What you can do
Keep up to date through the Recfishwest website, social media platforms and e-newsletters
Have your say on the plans once released and how they will impact on your fishing through DBCA’s website
Contact your local MP to tell them what you think about the plans
Dr Andrew Rowland, Recfishwest CEO, and Operations Officer Sam Bock were recently on the south coast listening to the concerns of local fishers about the potential impact of DBCA’s proposed marine park.
Stretching along 1,000 km of coastline from Bremer Bay to the WA/SA border, many local fishers told Andrew and Sam that the marine park already has a predefined political outcome and will be an unnecessary overreach coming out of Perth.
These concerns have been stoked by the bad publicity surrounding the consultation process to date.
While there, Andrew was also in the news on the front page of the Esperance Weekender and was on ABC Esperance, Goldfields, Mid-West and Wheatbelt calling for the consultation process to get back on track to enable a balanced outcome to be achieved.
Roebuck Bay Marine Park: Where Conservation and Recreation Join Forces
Recfishwest welcomes today’s release of the final management plan for Yawuru Nagulagun/Roebuck Bay Marine Park by the Premier, Hon Colin Barnett. This plan provides increased protection for the conservation values of Roebuck Bay while maintaining recreational fishing access to this vitally important area on the door step of Broome.
Recfishwest supports measures that sustain and protect healthy oceans and quality fishing experiences. The management plan announced today provides a win for both conservation and the community and demonstrates recreational fishing is compatible with marine conservation objectives.
Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said the plan celebrates fishing as an extremely important and highly valued recreational and cultural activity within Roebuck Bay.
“The management plan compliments current fisheries management and has struck a good balance between restoring, protecting and managing natural values of Roebuck Bay while allowing recreational use for all stakeholders”, said Dr Rowland.
“Current fisheries management in Roebuck Bay has resulted in fishing experiences being the best in living memory and has gone from strength to strength in the bay since the removal of commercial netting in late 2013.”
Former Broome Fishing Club President Jig Albert said management arrangements that ensure great fishing and protection of the environment are currently working in Broome and the community haven’t experienced this quality of fishing in decades.
“We’ve seen a marked rise in key fish stocks, namely Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon, so the proof is in the pudding in terms of current management working,” Mr Albert said.
The management plan also provides comprehensive protection for marine mammals which are already protected under the state Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.
The new management plan is also important in fulfilling the cultural aspirations of the Yawuru people who will play a significant role in the joint management of this park. Recfishwest supports the Management Plan and look forward to working with both Parks and Wildlife and the Yawuru PBC in promoting stewardship of the Roebuck Bay environment.
Our commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.
MEDIA CONTACT: Tim Grose, 9246 3366 or email@example.com
Recfishwest welcomes the final management plan for the Roebuck Bay Marine Park, which has retained unrestricted recreational fishing access. The plan was announced by Premier Colin Barnett and we believe it strikes the perfect balance between recreation and conservation, illustrating that recreational fishing is compatible with conservation goals.
It provides increased protection for the conservation values of Roebuck Bay while maintaining recreational fishing access to this vitally important area. This further builds on the massive advances in conservation made by the removal of commercial netting a couple of years ago, which has provided a massive boost to Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon fishing in the Bay.
Although there has been some opposition to the plan from those who wanted sanctuary zones and fishing lockout restrictions, we believe it compliments current fisheries management and has struck October a good balance between restoring, protecting and managing natural values of Roebuck Bay while allowing recreational use for all stakeholders.
It is important to note that the local community, including the traditional owners, have been extensively involved during the consultation process which led to the final management plan. Recfishwest believes the plan celebrates fishing as an extremely important and highly valued recreational and cultural activity within Roebuck Bay.
The Broome Fishing Club has welcomed the news with former club president Derek ‘Jig’ Albert saying the management arrangements to ensure great fishing and protection of the environment were currently working in Broome and the community hadn’t experienced this quality of fishing in decades. He pointed to a marked rise in key fish stocks, such as Barramundi and Threadfin Salmon, as proof current management was working.
The management plan also provides comprehensive protection for marine mammals which are already protected under the state Wildlife Conservation Act and the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The Yawuru people will play a significant role in the joint management of this park and Recfishwest looks forward to working with both Parks and Wildlife and the Yawuru PBC in promoting stewardship of the Roebuck Bay environment.
Our commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.
Soon Kununurra will be able to provide both great impoundment and wild river fishing opportunities for visitors to the town, a unique combination sure to appeal to many anglers.
(Photos of competition courtesy of ABC Kimberley)
‘When the community’s ability to access sustainable fisheries is jeopardised, we will do everything we can to ensure decisions are made with adequate science and social considerations’
The fishing in Roebuck Bay hasn’t always been as good as it is now, in fact some say it’s the best ever.
A continued push to introduce a sanctuary zone in Roebuck Bay bemused local fishers from the Broome Fishing Club as there is no evidence to support ‘no fishing areas’.
In 2013 the Government decision to purchase all of Roebuck Bay’s commercial netting licences under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy is now paying dividends and the fishing experiences are now being shared by the whole community. The government’s decision was a win for fishing in Broome and the environment of local waters.
Recfishwest’s Regional Policy Officer Matt Gillett travelled to Broome for the Broome Billfish Classic and spoke with the members and club committee on a range of issues. One of the fishing community’s key concerns is the continued push from local environmental groups for a sanctuary zone in Roebuck Bay.
‘’Hearing the concerns rings very true with Recfishwest, and as a fisher myself I have seen firsthand the quality of fishing in this area over the last few years change as the fish are returning to Roebuck Bay in big numbers’’ Matt Gillett said
‘’When the community’s ability to access sustainable fishing opportunities is jeopardised, we will do everything we can to ensure decisions are made with adequate science and social considerations. In this instance, we are confident that the fishing in Roebuck Bay is sustainable and implementing a sanctuary zone is simply not needed’’ Matt said.
Not only is the fishing fantastic, we’ve already seen important conservation activities in the Kimberley, namely the stocking of tens of thousands of Barramundi, fish tagging programs and genetic research demonstrating recreational fishers are stepping up and taking the lead to ensure healthy fish stocks.
Broome Fishing Club President Jig Albert said management arrangements that ensure great fishing and protection of the environment are currently working in Broome and the community hasn’t experienced this quality of fishing in decades.
“The numbers of fish are astronomical” Broome Fishing Club President Jig Albert.
This demonstrates fishers have a vested interest in conservation and community values that allow everyone to enjoy Roebuck Bay.
Recfishwest today said the release of the new Roebuck Bay Marine Park Indicative Management Plan provides a win for both conservation and the community, especially as it celebrates the role recreational fishing plays in the Kimberley.
Recfishwest CEO, Dr Andrew Rowland said the new marine park demonstrates that recreational fishing is compatible with marine conservation.
“We are pleased to see management activities focused on conserving the values that underpin good quality fishing experiences and where shared access can be enjoyed by all,” Dr Rowland said.
“We’ve already seen important conservation activities in the Kimberley, namely the stocking of the iconic Barramundi, where recreational fishers are giving back to help maintain a sustainable fishery.”
The new management plan is also important in fulfilling the cultural aspirations of the Yawuru people who will play a significant role in the planned joint management arrangements of this park.
“This type of management will bring the community closer together as it provides opportunities to share cultures around fishing.”
The management arrangements in this marine park complement the government’s 2013 decision to purchase all of Roebuck Bay’s commercial netting licences under the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy.
Broome Fishing Club President Derek Albert said fishing in Roebuck Bay has never been better.
“The Bay is a world class fishing location, providing fantastic opportunities for safe and enjoyable fishing experiences for the whole community” Mr Albert said.
To read Environment Minister Albert Jacob’s Media Statement, click here.