Call out for Reef Vision volunteers

Recfishwest puts the call out for artificial reef filming fisher volunteers

Recfishwest is casting out for red-hot keen boat fishers who want to be part of the the marine citizen science program, Reef Vision – the first of its kind in the world.

We’re looking for more volunteers to join the ever-growing and valuable Reef Vision team and help catch valuable footage of the state’s artificial reefs while out fishing.

Reef Vision volunteers collect valuable data

The Reef Vision Program is made up of passionate fishers from the recreational fishing community who assist Recfishwest map and monitor the growth and development of these fish habitat-enhancement structures in Esperance, Dunsborough, Busselton, Mandurah and Exmouth.

The State’s artificial reefs program driven by Recfishwest, has been developed to provide great fishing opportunities relatively close to shore allowing small boat owners the chance to have better fishing experiences.

Each Reef Vision volunteer is given a BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) camera, and training on how to set up, deploy and retrieve the equipment.

The volunteers drop the cameras near to the reef on their way to their fishing spot and record an hour of video footage of the artificial reefs. This footage is later analysed by Recfishwest, university researchers and students to see what fish are using the reefs and helping us to understand the benefits of artificial reefs and the fish that call them home.

To date, Reef Vision volunteers have collected hundreds of hours of valuable footage from the six artificial reefs monitored in the reef vision program identifying hundreds of different species including dhufish, Samson fish, baldchin groper, pink snapper and large schools of mulloway and red emperor, Rankin cod, queenfish and blue bone.

Local community members deploying Baited Remove Underwater Video cameras

“I love my fishing here in WA and being part of Reef Vision gives me the chance to give something back. It’s also really cool to see what’s going on down there – there are some amazing things you see” said Reef Vision volunteer Garry Dyer.

Recfishwest’s Research Officer Steph Watts said, “We need to know what’s happening on these reefs, and it’s even more important that the volunteers are enjoying their time collecting the footage for us.

“They’re the backbone of Reef Vision, and we can’t thank them enough,”

Fishers who might be interested in participating and want to know more are asked to email steph@recfishwest.org.au.

Peel Reef Vision – Monitoring Underway

Recfishwest’s world first marine citizen science program “Reef Vision” is a research project that uses recreational fishers to collect video footage of the fish and marine life on artificial reefs to assist in the monitoring and development of the reefs.

A variety of species including skippy, flathead and juvenile pink snapper captured on camera by Peel Reef Vision volunteers on the Mandurah Artificial Reef

Earlier this month, Recfishwest and project partners celebrated the launch of Peel Reef Vision in Mandurah with an information and training workshop held at the Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club (MOFSC).  Keen local volunteers have already dropped cameras on the Mandurah Artificial Reef giving us a greater understanding on how this reef is developing and learning what fish species are using the reefs.

Footage already collected by Peel Reef Vision volunteers showing the growth on the Mandurah Artificial Reef modules and a curious octopus

Tackle World Miami are kindly providing bait and advice to volunteers, enabling them to collect this footage of the reefs using their new specialised baited underwater video cameras.

Recfishwest and Murdoch University are again partnering to deliver the Peel Reef Vision program providing an excellent level of academic rigour to the program.  Murdoch are also managing our 2019 Southwest Reef Vision program that monitors the Dunsborough and Bunbury artificial reefs.

Plenty of juvenile snapper captured on camera by Peel Reef Vision volunteers on the Mandurah Artificial Reef. By using a network of dedicated community volunteers to monitor our reefs as they develop we are able to obtain regular footage of a reef’s development and we often get some really amazing shots such as the images in this article

Peel Reef Vision volunteers have already recorded a range of species that use the reef including pink snapper, skippy, john dory, flathead, whiting and an octopus!

This new addition to the Reef Vision program compliments the existing community monitoring programs currently underway on artificial reefs deployed in Esperance, Exmouth, Dunsborough and Bunbury.

We would like to give a special thanks to the MOFSC for hosting the Reef Vision information eveningt. The club have been an invaluable part of the deployment of the Mandurah artificial reef, and now with monitoring the reef’s development.

Peel Reef Vision is funded by the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and supported by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Recfishwest.

Interested in our world first Reef Vision program? Find out more by emailing steph@recfishwest.org.au

A juvenile dhufish coming in for a closer look at the baited camera

 

To see more underwater footage of various artificial reefs and some of the species calling them home, visit the Artificial Reefs WA Facebook page.

To read more about Artificial Reef Monitoring click here or Citizen Science Programs here.

See what’s biting on our other artificial reefs:

40 Species seen on Exmouth’s newest fishing playground

Rottnest Fish Towers Fire Up!

 

Have your Say on Crabs

Crabbing Review to Look After South West Crabs

  • Management needed for better protection of female crabs
  • Perth to Geographe Bay
  • Community to have their say

Recreational fishing surveys since 2011 have consistently shown Blue Swimmer Crabs are far and away the most caught species by fishers around Western Australia.

A discussion paper released by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) on October 25th has called into question the suitability of current management arrangements for Blue Swimmer Crabs on the lower West Coast and highlighted an urgent need to better protect breeding stocks.

The discussion paper highlights a particular concern about the current level of protection provided to mated, pre-spawn female crabs which become highly vulnerable to capture in late autumn, winter and spring. Recfishwest has voiced concerns about the level of protection provided to mated pre-spawn crabs for over a decade.

DPIRD’s discussion paper has considered the following five options for better protecting crab breeding stocks on the lower west coast: :

  1. Male-only fishery
  2. Increase in the Minimum Legal Size (MLS)
  3. Reducing fishing effort for all sectors when female crabs are vulnerable to capture
  4. Patchwork closures for where female crabs aggregate
  5. Broad-scale area closures when females are more vulnerable to capture

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said attention is being focused across the entire lower west coast crab resource to ensure all areas of breeding stock vulnerability are addressed and includes all estuaries and ocean fishing for crabs from Perth to Geographe Bay.

“Our priority here are the crabs and looking after important breeding stock,” Dr Rowland said.

“Blue Swimmer Crabs are the most caught species in WA by rec fishers, so it’s important to balance protection of the stock with great community fishing experiences with access to high abundances of crabs.”

In weighing up the options, the Department has identified broad scale seasonal closures (May to Nov) as the most balanced option to achieve the desired objective.

Recfishwest have developed an online survey asking people how they want their crab fisheries managed and protected into the future and we will continue to represent the communities views  about how they want this important public resource managed.

Given that these fisheries account for around 90% of the state’s recreational crab catch, we urge you to have your say.

Read the Department’s Discussion Paper here.

 

Peel Reef Vision – A Great Excuse to Go Fishing!

Recfishwest’s world first marine citizen science program ‘Reef Vision’ is set to launch in the Peel Region in October 2017. It’s only missing one thing – you! To kick off Peel Reef Vision we need passionate and committed fishers to help showcase the development and success of the Mandurah Artificial Reef and do their part for fishing and science.

The Peel Reef Vision Program will build on the two successful and ongoing Reef Vision monitoring programs on the Dunsborough and Bunbury Artificial Reefs.

The remarkable reefs bringing new life to our coastline. The artificial reefs are attracting fish in increasing numbers and in what's believed to be a world first, scientists are calling on the community to help monitor them.

Posted by Today Tonight on Monday, 15 May 2017

What is Reef Vision?

Reef Vision is a research project that uses passionate fishers to collect vital and exciting footage of the fish and marine life on artificial reefs to assist in the monitoring and development of the reefs.

“To date, Reef Vision volunteers have collected over 400 hours of valuable footage from 212 videos of the Bunbury and Dunsborough reefs. These videos have revealed over 34,000 individual fish from 82 different species including Dhufish, Samson Fish, Baldchin Groper, Pink Snapper and large schools of Mulloway.”

Recfishwest Research Officer James Florisson & Reef Vision Volunteer Rosa dropping a BRUV

What the volunteers actually do?

Reef Vision volunteers throw specialised baited underwater camera systems out from their boat and record an hour of video footage over the artificial reefs while they are fishing. This footage is later analysed by university researchers and students to see what fish are using the reefs.

“This was something that I could do to give back to the community, the more the community can do to help out, the better it is for us as fishers and for the future of our fisheries” Reef Vision volunteer Garry Dyer.

Recfishwest’s Research Officer James Florisson says these passionate volunteers are contributing to real science, in an effort to make fishing better in WA. They are the key to this programs success.

“It’s important for us to know what’s happening on these reefs, and it’s even more important that the volunteers are enjoying their time collecting the footage for us; they’re the backbone of Reef Vision and we can’t thank them enough,” James said.

How Do You Get Involved?

If you would like to be involved and participate in the new Peel Reef Vision Program or to find out more about the program, please email steph@recfishwest.org.au

Reef Vision Supporters

Recfishwest would like to thank all of our project partners who have assisted with Reef Vision to date and who have offered support for the new Peel Reef Vision program.

MOFSC at the deployment of the Mandurah Reef 2016

The project is supported by the RFIF, DPIRD, FRDC and Ecotone Consulting who assisted in the development of Reef Vision in the South West.

Mandurah Offshore Fishing and Sailing Club (MOFSC) and Port Bouvard Recreation and Sporting Club have dedicated the time and effort to not only assist with establishing Reef Vision in the Peel Region but who were also involved in the early stages, including site selection and deployment of the Mandurah Artificial Reef. MOFSC members will assist in monitoring for Peel Reef Vision.

Alcoa have thrown their support behind establishing Peel Reef Vision by providing camera equipment and technology, as well as staff who have assisted in trials for the project. Alcoa volunteer Chris Daou says he’s been fishing and monitoring the Bunbury and Dunsborough reefs since the beginning and he’s been amazed to see how they have developed.

“Having the opportunity to assist in trialing Reef Vision in the Peel Region has provided me with great insight into how science can be used to benefit the environment, fish and fishing,” Chris said.


Murdoch University and Curtin University are research partners with Reef Vision. Data collected on the reefs is analysed by university researchers and students.

Men Shed Forrestdale and First Marine have been getting involved in Artificial Reefs by lending their experience and knowledge to help make and improve equipment for Artificial Reef monitoring for the Reef Vision volunteers.

Dunsborough Outdoor Sportz and Whitey’s Tackle Australind kindly provided equipment and prizes which has enabled volunteers to collect footage of these reefs using the baited underwater cameras, both stores have been very supportive and important partners.

Most importantly, thank you to all the volunteers whose efforts and dedication to the cause are a major factor to the success of Reef Vision!

South West Reef Vision Team

30,000 Fish Dead!

There are no stronger advocates for healthy aquatic environments than recreational fishers. This is why much of the recreational fishing community has been up in arms over the recent fish kill in the Murray River, near Mandurah.

 

Recent reports indicate that up to 30,000 fish have been killed by what is described by authorities as ‘poor water quality – specifically low dissolved oxygen levels’.

As one of the Murray River’s largest user groups, the recreational fishing community has raised concerns about both the cause of the kill and the ongoing impact on fish stocks in this important waterway.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said that more needs to be done to protect WA’s river and estuarine environments, particularly given high level of economic, social and ecological value these systems provide to the community.

“With all of the resources of government and the multi-agency involvement in managing these systems we continue to see fish kills of this nature – the fishing community demand better”

“In addition to this, limited communications from authorities is compounding people’s frustration”.

Many community members are sharing their disappointment through both mainstream and social media channels.

Here are some of the reactions posted to the Recfishwest Facebook page:

• “Exactly the reply I expected…move on, nothing to see here.”
• “No doubt they’ll just say it was a natural event and sweep it under the carpet”
• “There are thousands dead. The smell was not nice. We were on a boat and every slipway and all the banks had dead fish, Bream and Mulloway”

Read what the people are saying here: https://www.facebook.com/recfishwest/

 

“The fishing community works hard to protect fish stocks and we’re disappointed to see excessive numbers of fish wiped out by a single fish kill event such as this,” Dr Rowland said.

It’s also important to note, that numerous not for profit catchment groups have also been doing their bit  working on bank erosion, revegetation, fencing stock and controlling invasive weeds which helps keep our estuaries healthy.

“This is the second fish kill we have seen in the Murray this year. There’s too much at risk for these events to be treated as normal and ‘expected’!”

 

“There’s too much at risk for these events to be treated as normal and ‘expected’!”

The rec fishing community has a demonstrated track record in standing up of our estuary environments and healthy fish stocks including:

– Stocking of important recreational species such as Mulloway
– Fish tagging and research on Bream movement in the Murray River
– Funding conservation initiatives such as fishing line disposal units and clean-up days
– Restoring important shellfish reef habitats in Oyster Harbour, Albany.
– Achieving World Class Marine Stewardship Council’s (MSC) Certification of the Peel-Harvey Blue Swimmer Crab fishery. The certification enforces a rigorous standard for sustainable management of Peel-Harvey fisheries.
– Promoting and practising best practice catch and release fishing methods
– Fishers supporting bag, size limits, seasons and other measures which ensure fish for the future

Maintaining a healthy catchment is essential to ensuring the sustainability of our estuaries and healthy fish stocks. The community does not accept fish kill events as always being ‘natural’ or the new norm.

Recfishwest still has a lot of questions about this fish kill including:

– Is it safe to eat fish from this system?
– What effect has this had on fish stocks in the system?
– What actions can be taken to protect the remaining fish stocks?
– What is being done to stop this happening again?

To read the Department of Water’s Media Statement, visit:http://www.water.wa.gov.au/news/news-items/lower-murray-river-fish-kill

We thank the community for their images of the dead fish and urge people to continue sending in your photos.