This year’s whites run has been forecast to happen in late November according to one of WA’s leading rock lobster scientists.
However, the eager anticipation over this summer’s cray season is being overshadowed by community concerns that the proposed extension to Marmion Marine Park could see thousands locked out of some of the best prime cray fishing ground close to north Metro boat ramps.
According to DPIRD Principal Research Scientist Dr Simon de Lestang, this year’s whites run is expected to kick off around late November to early December.
This is welcome news for metro cray fishers who make up a large part of the State’s 53,000 recreational rock lobster fishing licence-holders.
Once the whites run gets under way, generally moving in a north-westerly direction, traffic at Metro boat ramps begins to fire up as many boat fishers enjoy heading out “at sparrows” to pull pots and grab a feed of crays often before work.
To help predict the upcoming run of the crayfish along the WA coast, DPIRD collect the puerulus – a juvenile stage of a cray – with specialised buoys mimicking natural algae habitat where juvenile crayfish will seek shelter.
Based on the analysis of previous puerulus numbers, we are expecting a similar season to last year, with a good steady flow of catches and sizes.
However, taking the edge of this year’s excitement around the upcoming whites run are growing community concerns that extensive no-fishing sanctuary zones in soon-to-be released Marmion Marine Park extension proposals that could cover extensive prime cray fishing ground on or inside the Three-Mile reef.
The proposed extension to Marmion Marine Park will see its boundaries extend from Trigg to north of Two Rocks and go out from the shore to large sections of the Three-Mile Reef (see map below) – with proposed sanctuary zones potentially impacting on large areas out from Hillarys, Ocean Reef, Mindarie and Two Rocks boat ramps.
“Shooting out the harbour to grab a feed of crays before work during the whites run is one of the things that makes living in Perth so good,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland, “So we understand community concerns around sanctuary zones potentially heavily restricting fishing for crays out of north Metro boat ramps.
“That’s why we encourage all fishers to join our cast of thousands as a Recfishwest member to ensure our collective voice gets heard loud and clear when the marine park proposals are released for public comment potentially in the coming weeks.”
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
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.
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.
If you fish between Trigg and Two Rocks in Perth’s north or between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border on our southern coast, Rercfishwest is strongly encouraing you to take our respective marine park surveys and get your voice heard in their planning processes.
The Marmion Marine Park is set to extend its northern boundary from its current base of Trigg to Burns Rocks up to Two Rocks.
Whether you fish from a boat or from the shore in this metro area, complete our online mapping survey – link below – to let us know where is important for your fishing in the proposed marine park extension.
Similarly, if you wet a line between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border, we recommend completing our south coast fishing online mapping survey – link below. This will help us ensure decision-makers understand how important fishing is to you along this stunning stretch of coastline.
Recfishwest Operations Lead, Matt Gillett said, “We understand why many fishers might have concerns over how these marine parks might impact their fishing, which is more reason to stand up and have your say in these surveys.
“The more you share your views and important fishing areas with us, the better we can advocate for getting the best result for you and the wider WA fishing community.”
As the State’s peak recreational fishing body, Recfishwest’s purpose is to ensure great fishing experiences for all in the WA community, forever.
Our commitment is to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community.
Recfishwest will advocate directly to decision-makers to ensure that recreational fishing values are understood throughout the planning process.
To find out more about a specific marine park planning process, check out the links below.