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.
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.
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.
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.
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: :
Increase in the Minimum Legal Size (MLS)
Reducing fishing effort for all sectors when female crabs are vulnerable to capture
Patchwork closures for where female crabs aggregate
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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!
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”
“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?