Crayfish Industry Growth Plan Must Protect Inshore Reefs

  • WA has the best recreational crayfish fishery in the world and Recfishwest will fight to protect it.
  • Concerns over impact on recreational lobster catch and participation
  • Nearshore crayfish abundance is critical to supporting quality fishing
  • Recfishwest will never support any proposals that adversely impact on our fishing experiences

Recfishwest believes that all WA fish stocks must be managed to provide optimal benefits to the WA community.

In December, the Minister for Fisheries announced a plan to grow the rock lobster industry by increasing the quota available to the commercial sector by 1700 tonnes.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said Recfishwest has significant concerns about the plan which is currently open for consultation.

“Recfishwest will never support anything that adversely impacts on recreational fishing experiences.” Dr Rowland said

He said high numbers of crayfish close to shore in the last few years thanks to conservative management has significantly increased the catchability for recreational fishers, which has led to record high participation rates.

“In recent years fishing experiences for recreational fishers had been boosted and participation has grown to almost 60,000 licence holders thanks to high abundances of crayfish on inshore reefs,” Dr Rowland said.

“We are keen to understand how these inshore reef areas will be protected under any proposal to grow the Western Rock Lobster Industry”

“The last thing we want to see is increased exploitation of these reefs by ramping up commercial catch by 1700t. That’s over three times the annual recreational catch!”

“There is much more to fisheries management than simply the sustainable exploitation of a resource for economic gain, it’s also about managing the stock to ensure high abundance in the right areas.”

“We are seeking more details on the Plan to ensure any management changes do not impact on potters and divers who enjoy catching crayfish along our coast”

“We look forward to further engagement with the Government that results in a plan that recognises the benefits of all stakeholders in this fishery” Dr Rowland said.

Read our submission below.

Recfishwest Submission on the McGowan Governments Rock Lobster Industry Growth Plan

To read the Governments Rock Lobster Industry Growth Plan, click here.

Listen to Dr Andrew Rowland’s discussion on the issue on 6PR radio below.

Jane Marwick from Geraldton’s 6PR radio breaks it down even further during a discussion with Recfishwest’s Dr Andrew Rowland and Shane Van Styn, Mayor of Geraldton

 

Annual Fishing Closure lifted: Rock Lobster Can Now Be Caught Year Round

Recreational lobster fishers can now look forward to catching this popular species year round with Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly today announcing a 12 month season for recreational rock lobster  fishing.

This change comes about following advice from Recfishwest’s Rock Lobster Reference Group who were keen to improve winter fishing opportunities, particularly for those fishing in the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions, including the Abrolhos Islands.

Calm weather windows are common in the Mid-West and Gascoyne regions during winter, making for safer fishing for everyone.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said this change to the rules comes about through good management of this fishery with the opportunity to expand the fishing season supported by the latest stock assessment.

“With biological sustainability well in hand comes the opportunity to provide the community with an even greater return from this fishery”

“Such a healthy stock allows fisheries managers to focus on optimising the fishing experiences”

“A feed of fresh crayfish is an amazing Western Australia experience with more people getting on the water and catching their own seafood.”

This announcement builds on other positive changes to recreational lobster rules over the past few years to ensure people’s fishing experiences are maximised and the rules are as simple and as practical as possible, including:

  • In October 2017, lobster rules changes allowed fishers to keep lobster in Setose condition;
  • Divers now have 5 minutes to sort their lobster catch in the safety of their boat;
  • Fishers can keep lobster tails at home – Previously, the law required lobsters to be kept and stored whole (with head and tail) unless they were being prepared for immediate consumption.
  • Two people can share a lobster pot – meaning greater participation and enjoyment for everyone.

The introduction of year round fishing will also require some slight changes for those who use pots.

Recreational lobster pots will now have to be rigged in a similar fashion to commercial pots to mitigate the potential risk of interaction with migrating whales.

Any pot using more than 20m of rope will be required to hold the top half of the rope vertically in the water column.  This can be achieved by using sinking rope on the top half of the pot rope, or by simply attaching a weight such as a fishing sinker half way down the rope.  Additionally, a maximum of two floats will apply on recreational pots.

“Recreational fishers are the stewards of the marine environment, and are happy to do their bit to minimise any interaction with protected species” Dr Rowland said.

“As well as reducing chances of whale interaction, these measures will reduce the likelihood of rope entangling in boat propellers and loss of ropes from propeller cut-off when excess is left floating on the surface. It’s a win-win”.

Learn how to make your pots compliant by watching the video on You Tube here or on the Recfishwest Facebook Page.

Click here to view the updated rules

See the Ministers media release here:

Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster team up to keep lobster fishers safe

A new safety initiative to keep thousands of Western Australian lobster fishers safe will be rolled out along the West Coast in the coming weeks.

In recent years, deck hands have been injured after being struck by fishing gear snagged on lobster pot lines as pots are hauled to the surface on a high-speed winch.

To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear, Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster have launched the Snag It Tag It safety initiative and are distributing caution tags to recreational fishers.

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said the Snag It Tag It project is an important safety initiative.

“Rec fishers share the water with many other users and it’s important we all work together to ensure everyone returns home safe after a day’s fishing,” Dr Rowland said.

The Snag It Tag It initiative arms recreational fishers with waterproof caution tags to tie to ropes and floats if they accidently snag fishing gear on a lobster line or pot. This will mean deckhands on commercial fishing vessels face less risk of injury when pulling in pots at high speed.

Autumn is a popular season for recreational fishers to head out and fish for iconic WA species such as Dhufish, Baldchin Groper and Pink Snapper.

Recfishwest, the Australian Anglers Association (WA Division) and Western Rock Lobster have printed 4000 Snag It Tag It caution tags which have been distributed to local tackle outlets along Western Australia’s coastline.

Western Rock Lobster Chief Executive Officer Matt Taylor said the partnership with Recfishwest to deliver the caution tags to WA fishers was important to the lobster industry.

“This is a great opportunity for recreational and commercial fishers to work together to keep each other safe,” Mr Taylor said.

“We will be raising awareness and educating commercial fishers to be on the lookout for the caution tags, so they can operate winches with extra care and at a safe speed.”

“Our busy waters can be dangerous; these tags will be an important safeguard for commercial and recreational fishers alike.”

Western Rock Lobster and Recfishwest believe everyone should return home safe after a days fishing.

Snag and Tag

Incredible injuries can occur from fishing hooks and sinkers! To combat the dangers of snagged fishing gear Recfishwest and Western Rock Lobster have launched the Snag it Tag it initiative

Posted by Today Tonight on Tuesday, 15 May 2018

 

 

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. 

WA Needs More Fishing Heroes!

Our 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.

Thanks to our current supporters, Recfishwest can continue the fight to keep fishing great in WA.

Our role is to: 
– Be your voice that would not otherwise be heard
– Be the voice of the fish that otherwise goes unheard or ignored
– Keep you informed of all thing affecting your fishing, 24/7; we believe you need to know!
– Strive to ensure you and your family return home safe after a day’s fishing
– Defend your fishing rights when your local fishing spot is under threat
– Fight when access to fishing areas is put at risk
– Roll up our sleeves and find a solution when no one else will.

Contribute to what we do and support us, become a member and let us do the hard yakka on your behalf.  We don’t make profits here at Recfishwest and we make sure all our resources go directly towards our action to protect, promote and develop our fishing environments and to keep you fishing.

To give you an idea of where your support helps us make fishing better:
• Stocking of important recreational fish species around WA, including Pink Snapper, Barramundi, Prawns, Mulloway and Freshwater Trout
• Development, design and deployment of Artificial Reefs in Western Australia
• Development of important fishing research and conservation programs
• Development of WA’s ‘Fish and Survive’ program, to ensure all fishers come home safe after a day’s fishing
• Delivery of WA’s only state-wide fishing clinic program to thousands of kids in both metro and regional areas

A strong membership base allows us to pursue matters that affect your fishing with added confidence knowing you’ve got our back, just like we’ve got yours!

For just 50c per week, you can help us protect and develop fishing experiences in Western Australia, for the community forever.

Diving For Rock Lobster – Our Position

In response to discussion on social media relating to the taking of rock lobster by divers, Recfishwest would like to put forward our position on the matter.

Recfishwest believe that people diving for crays must be afforded the same rules as those who use pots and be given a reasonable opportunity of 5 minutes to sort their catch when they return to the boat.

This would allow divers to accurately check for spawning conditions such as fine hairs on setose lobster whilst out of the water.

It is the view of Recfishwest that within the bounds of sustainability and in order to maximise recreational fishing experiences, management arrangements for this recreational-only component of the fishery should have significant input from the users themselves.

We always believed there has to be a better way to resolve this case than through the legal system simply to satisfy the legislative curiosity of a government Department. We’ve been calling on the Division of Fisheries to work with the community to clarify the rules on this matter over the last year.

If the law does not clearly state how you are allowed to fish then it is not a good law and needs to be changed – it’s as simple as that.

Recfishwest has written to Minister Kelly requesting changes to this regulation prior to the start of the 2017/18 Rock Lobster season.

If you’d like to listen to what Recfishwest’s CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say on ABC South Coast on July 7, 2017, click the link below.

2016 Rock Lobster Season Set to be Another Bumper

As of October 15, the much-anticipated rock lobster season opens throughout Western Australia, with the iconic Western Rock Lobster being one of the prize catches in WA.
General consensus among lobster fishers was that the past season was another extremely productive one, highlighting just how well this fishery is managed and can only mean good things for the upcoming season.

Catch rates were not the only numbers breaking records last season, as the number of recreational rock lobster licence holders rose dramatically to over 52,000 licences.
In more good news, lobster fishers now have the option of removing lobster tails after they get their catch home. Previously, the law required lobsters to be kept and stored whole (with head and tail) unless they were being prepared for immediate consumption.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said lobster fishing is a uniquely Western Australia experience and we’re seeing more and more people getting involved, getting on the water and catching their own fresh seafood.

“Testament to how popular this activity is, it’s now common place to see scores of boats lined up at the boat ramp at dawn eager to get out before work for their slice of the action,” Dr Rowland said.

Recent juvenile lobster counts point towards a bumper season this year and if last season is anything to go by, we should see more people on the water having fun this summer catching this iconic WA species.

Learn all you need to know about fishing for lobster at: http://ilovefishing.com.au/2015/11/01/western-rock-lobster/

Rock Lobster Science Predicts Great Fishing To Come

The 2015-16 western rock lobster season drew to a close at the end of June. Good news for crayfish lovers is we are less than three months from the opening of the 2016-17 season, starting October 15. General consensus among lobster fishers was that the past season was another extremely productive one, highlighting just how well this fishery is managed.

There were plenty of good crays caught, with an excellent early season run of whites. This white migration phase is typically from November to late January where large numbers of pale pink (whites) lobsters, recently moulted from their deep red colour, migrate from inshore reefs to deep water. During this migration, the lobster are highly exposed to fishing and large catches are taken by fishers. Adult and non-migrating lobsters are known as ‘reds’ and form the catch between February through to June. Then again once the season starts in October until when the “whites” start again in November.

Two changes to rules this season also proved popular with recreational fishers. The first was the removal of a maximum size limit for female lobster. The size limit requirement on female lobster was an old management tool before it was managed as a ‘quota managed fishery’ (management that sets out a defined number of lobsters that can be removed from the water each year by rec fishers). It’s also important to note, any female in breeding condition such as in setose, tar spot (see above) or carrying eggs must be promptly returned to the water. The other change, which proved to be very well accepted by recreational fishers, was the ability for two licenced fishers to share a pot. This change to the rules enabled more people than ever to enjoy the experience of catching a feed of our fantastic crayfish.

There will be plenty of recreational fishers counting the days to a great 2016/17 fishing season, as an above average juvenile count forecasts healthy stocks and a great fishing season for all.

Lobster Etiquette a Must

The annual recreational lobster season has started in fine style and Recfishwest wants to remind all recreational fishers to act responsibly when targeting these valuable crustaceans.
Last year, there were many reports of pots belonging to recreational fishers being illegally interfered with. These included witnesses seeing their pots pulled by other people, and of pots also being removed.

Some pot thieves are suspected of cutting off floats and replacing them with their own, while there were also suspicions of divers removing lobster from pots. There are significant fines for tampering with other people’s pots and recreational fishers are also reminded pots cannot be pulled before 4.30am.  Anyone diving for crays is also reminded to make sure they use a dive flag, to alert other marine users to their presence.

As with any type of fishing, safety is paramount for all involved.  Fishing rigs that become entangled with lobster pots have the potential to cause severe injury to anyone who subsequently pulls the pot.  If you lose a rig to a lobster pot rope, take steps to mark the rope to alert the owner of the pot to the danger. The best idea is to tie a tag of some kind to the rope or tie the floats together if the pot has more than one float.

Boating safety is also paramount when lobster fishing and in addition to having all the required safety equipment there are some simple steps to reduce the risk of rope entanglement. These steps include using non-buoyant upper line , coiling surplus line, using a highly visible float and not setting pots on the leads to anchorages. Boaties can also reduce the risk of becoming entangled by keeping a good look out, not traveling at night and passing on the leeward side of a float.

Check the weather conditions before launching and leave the pots for another day if the ocean is likely to be too rough to ensure safety.
Observing boat ramp etiquette is also important for lobster fishers – be mindful of your place in the queue when both launching and retrieving and always have your boat ready for launch before you back down the ramp.

Make sure you have a rope on the boat to tie it off to the jetty and try the motor before you put the boat in the water.  Once you start pulling the pots, remember to always clip the tails of any lobster you intend to keep within five minutes of catching them.  Always measure your lobsters before keeping them, with a legal minimum carapace length of 76mm for Western Rock Lobster.

Southern Rock Lobster – Legal Carapace size of 98.5mm. Western Rock Lobster’s are legal at 76mm
Undersized lobster, and lobsters in reproductive condition (berried, seatosed and tar spot), must be returned to the water . You need a current licence from Fisheries to fish for lobster and the daily bag limit is eight per licence holder for Western and Southern Rock Lobsters and 4 per day for Tropical and Ornate Lobsters.

As you would have heard, new lobster rules to benefit lobster fishers are now available on the Dept of Fisheries website.