Restoring the Balance: The 1st Step to Bigger Better Crabs

Media Release, 11 October 2018

  • Recfishwest Vision – Bigger Better Crabs for Peel Harvey
  • Minister Prioritises and Protects Family Fishing Experiences
  • The Right Abundances in the Right Places

Recfishwest welcomes today’s announcement from Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly, to establish a buyback scheme for commercial fishing licences in the Peel-Harvey Estuary. This announcement honours an important election commitment the McGowan government made to recreational fishers.

The Peel Harvey Estuary is the spiritual home of recreational crabbing with thousands of family’s flocking to Mandurah every year to enjoy the experience of catching their own seafood across the summer months.

Recfishwest Operations Manager Leyland Campbell commended the Minister and his actions.

 “Crabbing and fishing in the estuary is the lifeblood of the region and today’s announcement means more Blue Swimmer Crabs and Yellowfin Whiting will be left in the water for fishing families.”

 “Recfishwest have been calling for change to management arrangements in this fishery for over a decade and by honouring their election commitment the McGowan Government are supporting safe, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences for all West Aussies.”

“The scheme is designed to allocate more Blue Swimmer Crabs and Yellowfin Whiting to recreational fishing families and is a positive first step in bringing big crabs back to the region.” Mr Campbell said.

Recfishwest are happy with the creation of a mechanism allowing recreational fishing licence money to assist with resolving resource reallocation issues. This sets an important and positive precedence for restoring the right balance between commercial and recreational fishing.

Recfishwest looks forward to continuing to work with the Minster and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to ensure greater recreational fishing experiences in the region.

Read Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly’s Media Statement here.

Location of Exmouth Artificial Reef Announced

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly – Media Statement

Fishing licence fees help create an Exmouth integrated artificial reef
Wednesday, 16 May 2018

– New artificial reef will enhance Exmouth fishing experience
– Funded by recreational fishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, and supported by BHP and National Energy Resource Australia

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly today announced the location for Exmouth’s new Integrated Artificial Reef (IAR).

The new $1 million artificial reef will be one of Australia’s largest artificial reefs and will be located near the Exmouth Boat Harbour inside the Exmouth Gulf, providing the community with new safe and accessible fishing opportunities.

More than 27,000 cubic metres of concrete and steel structures will be installed on the sandy bottom of the Exmouth Gulf. The project brings together world-leading engineering solutions and science-based habitat enhancement, all to benefit recreational fishing.

Local WA company and world leaders in artificial reef architecture, Subcon International, received funding to develop the reef from last year’s round of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF).

The Exmouth reef differs in both size and design to WA’s other artificial reefs. A mixture of steel integrated with concrete will form the reef’s 58 modules, which will range in height from one metre to 10 metres and laid out across two acres on the ocean floor. Once deployed, the 27,000 cubic metres of reef volume will be equal to that of 11 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

25 per cent of recreational licence fees collected by the Government, goes to the RFIF for investment back into the sector. A further 15 per cent of licence fees goes towards funding for Recfishwest, with the balance of licence fee money supporting fisheries management through the department.

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

“I am very pleased to announce the location of the Exmouth Integrated Artificial Reef, which will create a new, accessible, safe fishing location for recreational fishers.

“I look forward to seeing the artificial reef, which was partly funded by the State Government, effectively enhance the recreational fishing experience in WA.

“Thousands of people descend upon Exmouth for a fishing getaway but sometimes the winds and swell is unfavourable.

“This new reef will offer tourists and locals an alternative fishing in the safety of the gulf, which can only add to the appeal Exmouth has as an iconic WA fishing destination.

“The McGowan Government is delivering on its election commitment that ensures 25 per cent of recfishing licence fees are invested back into the sector through the RFIF.”

Minister’s office – 6552 6100

Exmouth Artificial Reef Location_PreDeployment_May2018

New Artificial Reef Coming to Perth’s Northern Suburbs

Fisheries Minister Media Release

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

– $1.9 million worth of new projects to put your fishing licence fees to work for you
– Since 2012, about $10 million from licence money has funded recfishing projects
– Perth’s northern metro waters will get an artificial reef to enhance fish habitats

A new artificial reef for Perth’s northern suburbs is one of 11 new recfishing projects worth almost $2 million that will be funded from recreational fishing licence money, through the latest round of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF).

The McGowan Government will decide the specific location of the $1 million artificial reef through consultation with the fishing community and other stakeholders.

The announcement of a new northern metropolitan reef, comes five years after the deployment of Western Australia’s first ever artificial reef for fishing in Bunbury. Once in the water, the northern metropolitan reef will become WA’s seventh purpose-built artificial reef.

Other projects funded through the RFIF will be announced in the coming months.

The McGowan Government has delivered on its election commitment to the RFIF that ensures 25 per cent of recreational fishing licence money is invested back into recfishing. Projects funded provide safe, sustainable, accessible and enjoyable recreational fishing experiences in Western Australia.

WA’s Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund has already provided more than $10 million for projects that benefit WA fishers, while having additional tangible outcomes for fish habitats, the environment and research.

For more information, visit https://recfishwest.org.au/rfif

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

“In 2015, WA Labor stood side by side with Recfishwest to protect this important fund, when the former government tried to cut it.

“The McGowan Government is delivering on its election commitment that ensures 25 per cent of recfishing licence money is invested back into the sector through the RFIF.

“A further 15 per cent of licence fees goes towards funding for Recfishwest, with the balance of licence fee money supporting fisheries management through the department.

“We’ve asked WA fishers where they want their licence money spent and artificial reefs continually come out towards the top of the list.

“Artificial reefs can provide quality fishing opportunities to help fishers avoid having to travel excessive distances or venture into rough waters, and they can also mean a huge boost for localised tourism as well as a win for fish habitats.

“A new artificial reef will enhance the recfishing opportunities for the growing northern suburbs.

“The goal of the McGowan Government is to ensure Western Australians have safe, accessible, sustainable and enjoyable fishing experiences for years to come.”

Minister’s office – 6552 6100

Cray Diving Rules Set To Be Clarified

In July’s edition of Recfishwest’s Broadcast newsletter, we stated our firm belief that people diving for crays must be afforded the same opportunity as those who use pots and be given 5 minutes to sort their catch once safely aboard their boat. Recfishwest wrote to the Minister of Fisheries who subsequently requested Fisheries liaise with Recfishwest to ‘review fishing arrangements prior to the season commencement.’

Recfishwest is continuing to work with Fisheries in an effort to provide fishers with a clear set of rules that allows for the practicalities of diving and address our concerns. All fishers deserve rules that are clear, simple and fair.

Recfishwest’s position has not changed:

“While divers should make all attempts to measure and count lobsters as accurately as possible in the water, common sense allowances must be made given the often challenging conditions associated with diving in WA.

Once aboard the safety of the boat it is only fair and reasonable that divers are provided a 5 minute opportunity to make a secondary check for protected lobster (e.g. undersize, tar spot, setose) or lobsters in excess of the bag limit, and return to the water any lobster that may have inadvertently been caught.” Recfishwest CEO Dr. Andrew Rowland. 

Why does it matter?

The current (recently amended) interpretation of rules for divers are unclear and do not support the best possible safety outcomes or provide for the best possible fishing experiences.

It is important fishing rules balance the need for safe, quality fishing experiences with the appropriate level of compliance and education to support long-term sustainability. Given there are zero sustainability concerns in regards to crays the rules need to focus on optimising fishing experiences and diver safety.

The current interpretation of the rules and the lack of clarity around a 5 minute period places unnecessary pressure to check catches underwater and to spend more time in the water than is otherwise necessary. In the case of free divers this increased time underwater greatly increases the risk of shallow water blackout.

It is also important rules are interpreted in a way that reflects community expectations about how publicly owned aquatic resources are accessed and managed. The rules must be clear, simple, fair and they must provide for the long accepted practice of completing the fishing activity once safely aboard the vessel.

If you’d like to listen to what Recfishwest’s CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say on ABC South Coast in  July, 2017, press play below. 

Fishing Services Remain Despite Amalgamation

As of July 1, 2017, the Western Australian Department of Fisheries’ time as a stand-alone agency came to an end, after its amalgamation with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Regional Development into what will now be known as the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD). This change came about as part of the Government’s amalgamation plan, cutting the number of Government agencies from 41 to 25.

Although this brings to an end the last remaining stand-alone fisheries department in Australia, Recfishwest has been assured by the Minister that recreational fishers will see no loss of service for the pastime we all love.

As part of their election commitments to recreational fishing, the Government committed to continuing the funding of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, which has provided benefits such as Artificial Reefs , FADs, stocking of species such as Mulloway, Barramundi and School Prawns as well as providing vital research into key recreational fishing species so as to better inform ongoing management measures.

The Government has also reassured its commitment to funding Recfishwest, to ensure that fishers have a strong connection to decision makers. Recreational fishing is an important part of our lifestyle and culture, and reports from throughout the state indicate that the quality of fishing experiences available is world class. Fishing provides well-documented health and wellbeing benefits as well as driving tourism in which boosts regional economies.

We are pleased to see the Government’s continued commitment to fishing in this great state.

Recfishwest looks forward to working with DPIRD to ensure that West Aussies continue to have safe, sustainable, accessible and enjoyable fishing experiences and will continue to work to ensure that all current services to recreational fishing will remain.

Recfishwest Disappointed to Learn of Licence Increase

We have just heard from the Minister for Fisheries that all of your fishing licences will be going up by $5 as of July 8.

This is an outcome of a Government review of Fees and Charges, announced today, which has also seen other increases in day to day expenses for West Aussies.

RFW are disappointed with this increase. This is the first we have heard of it and were not consulted on it.

We have spoken directly to the Minister this afternoon seeking assurance that programs such as the RFIF (Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) are not going to be lost as an outcome of this review, with Minister Kelly confirming funding to the RFIF and RFW will not be impacted.

Recfishwest will be working hard to ensure every cent of the additional $1 million the government will receive from this increase delivers maximum benefit to the fishing community who are paying.

It’s important that the community have clarity on government expenditure we expect that the Premiers promised “gold standard of transparency” as continually spruiked by the new Government, is also applied to fishing licence revenues.

What this means:
Fishing from Boat Licences will increase to $35, with all other licences increasing to $45.Current concession discounts will remain.

If you renew your fishing licences before July 8 2017, you’ll avoid the increase.

New Fisheries Minister – A Friend of Fishing

Recfishwest welcome the appointment of Dave Kelly as the new Minister for Fisheries. From 2013-2017 Mr Kelly was a very active Shadow Fisheries Minister who showed a consistent and genuine interest in fisheries and always made an effort to understand the issues related to fishing in Western Australia. This experience makes him one of the best-prepared Minsters to take on the portfolio.

Minister Kelly is a strong supporter of recreational fishing. In 2013 he supported Recfishwest’s call for recreational fishers to be given priority access for Herring stating “Herring is one of the most important fish for recreational anglers in WA.” In 2015 Minister Kelly and Premier McGowan also stood shoulder to shoulder with Recfishwest to overturn significant funding cuts to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Minister Kelly was also instrumental in ensuring the new fisheries legislation had bipartisan support allowing it to pass through parliament in 2016. This new legislation is important as for the first time it provides a legal right for recreational fishers to access the community owned fish resources in WA. In addition to being very active in the parliament Minister Kelly has also always found the time to attend and support fishing related events. Earlier this year the Minister attended Recfishwest’s Snapper Guardian fish release where he promised “a Labor government would give Cockburn Sound the care and attention it deserves.”

Recfishwest’s proven ability to effectively advocate on behalf of the states 740,000 recreational fishers combined with the positive partnership we have developed with Minister Kelly over the last four years will help us ensure the Government delivers on their election commitments which included;

• Maintaining the current funding arrangements for Recfishwest and the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.
• Increase funding for the State-wide fishing safety strategy and Fishability.
• Introduction of a Marine Rescue App to connect boaters to search and rescue experts.
• Upgrade boating facilities in Broome to improve safety and access at Entrance Point, Town Beach and Gantheaume Point.
• Support previous investments from Recfishwest and The Nature Conservancy by providing $2 million to bring back oyster reefs to Oyster Harbour.
• Improve fishing access in Bunbury by building a fishing platform and identifying locations for artificial fishing habitats.
• Creating new boat ramps along the foreshore at Eaton and
• Ensuring the ongoing health of the Peel Harvey Estuary through an investment of $1.5 million which may include a buyback of some commercial fishing licences.

During the election campaign the WA Labor party recognised artificial reefs, FADS and restocking programs all play an important part in enriching the recreational fishing experience as well as growing the economic contribution that recreational fishing makes to the state. Recfishwest will continue to work with the government in providing you with more places to fish through;

• Building the best fishing spots in Australia through installing artificial reefs and FADs.
• Stocking of impoundments and urban waters with popular Australian Native freshwater fish.
• Breathing life into waterways through the rehabilitation of shoreline vegetation and the establishment of nursery habitats in selected estuaries including the Swan/Canning River.

And more fish to catch by;

• The stocking of millions of fish.
• Rationalising commercial fishing effort in popular estuaries such as Peel Harvey.
• A fair go for fishers through policy changes to support better fishing.

Recfishwest will continue to work tirelessly to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community and have no doubt that Minister Kelly and the WA Labor Government will continue to be great supporters of recreational fishing.

Minister for Fisheries Confirms Herring Trap Net Fishery to Remain Closed

You would be hard pressed to find a recreational fisher in WA without a Herring story. These little fish are the heroes and life blood of fishing in WA and an important part of our culture.

This is why, in 2014, Recfishwest embraced changes to Herring management which helped ensure sustainability by allowing hundreds of tonnes of additional Herring to spawn every year. The Minister for Fisheries Joe Francis recently confirmed that current management controls for Australian Herring will remain.

This means: The recreational bag limit of 12 Herring will continue. The relatively low valued trap net Herring fishery, which was catching two out of every three Herring caught in WA and selling a large portion as a low-value crayfish bait will remain closed.  

These measures were adopted after stock assessment revealed Herring stocks were at risk. The results of a recent review of Herring indicate that management intervention is still required to support Herring stock recovery. The current arrangements are deemed appropriate, having already proved sufficient in meeting the catch reduction requirements.

The Ministers decision reflects our belief that Herring are far more valuable on the end of a kids fishing line than as bait in the bottom of a cray pot. Australian Herring represent a far greater value to recreational fishers as a safe and accessible inshore species for fishers of all abilities to enjoy.

Recfishwest is pleased to see that the government continues to prioritise the use of Herring for recreational and human consumption purposes in line with community expectations.

More Places to Fish, More Fish to Catch

Cast a vote in the 2017 State Election – How your vote could affect your fishing

Recfishwest works tirelessly to protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the community. With the 2017 state election fast approaching Recfishwest is working to ensure fishers are given the acknowledgement and consideration they deserve.

While Recfishwest has no political affiliation and will never tell anyone how they should vote, we do represent hundreds of thousands of members of the voting public that access the community owned fish resources of Western Australia. With this in mind, we are committed to informing you about all commitments made by registered political parties that are likely to impact on your fishing experiences and let you decide for yourself.

As in previous elections, Recfishwest has provided all political parties with our election “Package for Better Fishing in WA” and have asked each party whether they support this package. In our March Broadcast, we will provide an update outlining the level of support each party has provided for this package and compare the fishing related commitments made by each political party.

Recfishwest’s “Package for Better Fishing in WA” aligns with our vision of ensuring great fishing experiences for all in the WA community forever and will protect, promote and develop sustainable, accessible, enjoyable and safe fishing for the benefit of the whole community.

It is worth noting that Recfishwest expects current funding levels for Recfishwest, the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and Fishability (formally Fishers with Disabilities) are maintained and as such have not included these in our election package, however, we will inform you if any party plans to change current funding levels for these.

In developing our “Package for Better Fishing in WA” Recfishwest acknowledge the state is currently bound by financial challenges and as such we have developed a fiscally responsible package that contains a number of policy commitments that would benefit fishing at zero cost to government.

The “Package for Better Fishing in WA” contains a number of aspirations and commitments to improve fishing experiences. These fall into two main categories:
• Creating more places to fish, and
• Providing more fish to catch.

More Places to Fish

1. Building the best fishing spots in Australia:

This will see artificial reefs for Albany, Perth, Carnarvon, Broome, Karratha, Port Hedland and Geraldton as well as FADs for Geraldton, Jurien Bay, Broome, Bunbury, Port Hedland, Carnarvon and Perth /Peel. (These reefs and FADs are in addition to artificial reefs in Esperance, Exmouth and Karratha and FADS in Kalbarri, Exmouth and Albany that have already been committed to through the RFIF)

2. Unlocking inland waters:

Recfishwest is calling for impoundments and urban waters to be opened for stocking of popular Australian Native freshwater fish such as Golden Perch, Silver Perch, Murray Cod and Aussie Bass.

3. Breathing life into waterways:

This involves the rehabilitation of shoreline vegetation and establishment of nursery habitats in selected estuaries including the Swan/Canning River.

mulloway reefs

More Fish to Catch

1. 10 million more fish to catch:

Recfishwest is calling for the stocking of 10 million fish including Australian Native Freshwater Fish, Barramundi, Mulloway, Blue Swimmer Crabs, Pink Snapper and Prawns as well as support for hatcheries used in breeding fish for these stocking programs.

2. A better deal for Peel:

The Peel-Harvey Stewardship Package Recfishwest has developed includes a fair and reasonable buyout of some commercial fishing licences, better recreational data collection and management changes to make your experiences fishing for Yellowfin Whiting and Blue Swimmer Crabs better.

3. A fair go for fishers:

Recfishwest is calling for policy changes to support fishing. These changes include:

a. Prioritising Lower West Coast Blue Swimmer Crabs for recreational and tourism purposes.
b. Prohibiting gillnets and beach-seine netting in proximity to coastal towns.
c. Rationalising current commercial fishing pressure in our estuaries.
d. Prioritising Salmon as a key sport fishing and tourism resource.

The commitments contained in Recfishwest’s “Package for Better Fishing in WA” represent an investment of $15 million over four years. Considering the government receives $7.5 million dollars every year through recreational fishing licence fees and that fishing is one of the state’s most popular recreational activities contributing hundreds of millions to the WA economy every year the package Recfishwest has presented to all parties is more than reasonable.

Recfishwest is also in discussions with political parties who wish to make commitments to benefit recreational fishing in WA that fall outside of our “Package for Better Fishing in WA”.

To help ensure fishing receives a fair go this election, ask your local candidates to commit to providing you with more places to fish and more fish to catch.

Boost for Snapper Guardians in State Budget

Recfishwest is delighted with WA State Government’s budget commitment which will see $300,000 over the next 2 years towards the release of more Pink Snapper fingerlings into Cockburn Sound. People stood up and made a pledge to chip in towards a solution, and it’s great to see the government throw their support behind this initiative.

This contribution will allow on-ground activities to focus directly on maintaining and protecting healthy fish stocks to support better fishing. It will also provide opportunities for the community to get involved. Recfishwest is also in ongoing discussion with authorities to ensure rapid response protocols are established to safeguard the health this important waterway.

Recreational fishers are champions of sustainable fish stocks and healthy fish habitats, and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves and making the next release as successful as the first!