It’s the gateway to Shark Bay and as such Denham deserves to be held in the highest regard by West Aussie anglers, reports Western Angler editor Scott Coghlan in this week’s Scott’s Spots. Continue reading “Scott’s Spots – Denham, the gateway to Shark Bay”
Recfishers are being encouraged to have their say on a draft pink snapper management recovery plan for the Gascoyne region. Continue reading “Recfishers’ views sought on Gascoyne pink snapper management plan”
Pink snapper are the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne. These highly prized fish provide fantastic opportunity for both local and visiting fishers to tussle with a hard fighting, yet accessible sportfish that is also rated highly on the plate.
Readers might remember management changes for oceanic pink snapper were implemented last year, which included a snapper spawning closure north of Bernier Island, offshore from Carnarvon as well as a reduction in the allowable catch for the commercial fishing sector.
The community were consulted after a stock assessment indicated a risk to snapper numbers in the region, and agreed that these measures were appropriate to try and recover the snapper stock as quickly as possible. The spawning closure had over 96% support from the community. You can read more about it here.
Managing our states fisheries is an exciting and challenging task that takes place in a dynamic environment affected by many influences. This means that it’s important to constantly check-in on how management changes are affecting both our fish stocks and our fishing experiences.
In the case of Gascoyne pink snapper, Recfishwest recently met with the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and representatives from the commercial fishing sector to further develop the recovery plan for the oceanic pink snapper resource in the Gascoyne region.
This work includes reviewing current research and management actions, endorsing appropriate catch levels and timelines for future stock assessments and discussing future management to stimulate the fishery to recover at the desired rate.
Recfishwest is proud to continue to work with all stakeholders to refine the recovery strategy in order to rebuild this snapper stock as soon as possible.
Recreational fishing is an integral part of Carnarvon’s social fabric and local economy, so it’s vitally important that we balance the protection of this valuable resource with the opportunity to visit Carnarvon and fish in other places, or for different species. Through positive community engagement and consultation, this balance was achieved.
If you are planning on travelling to Carnarvon for a fishing trip, it is worth noting that the spawning closure is in effect from the 1st of June – 31st August. This doesn’t affect fishing for other species such as coral trout or red emperor.
Each year many recreational fishers travel to the World Heritage listed Shark Bay area to experience the safe, sustainable, enjoyable and accessible fishing that the region offers.
For the local community, fishing is their lifeblood, forming a huge part of their culture and providing significant economic return to the town.
With recent updates to recreational fishing rules and recent recovery of Pink Snapper stocks, the Shark Bay fishing community were driven to develop a Shark Bay Fishing Code of Conduct, to set the scene for visiting recreational fishers and locals alike.
The code of conduct aims to educate, inform and help maintain quality fishing experiences whilst supporting the protection of the environment and ensuring the human footprint is minimised for current and future generations in this outstanding region.
‘’This Code of Conduct will be of huge benefit to the entire WA recreational fishing community, especially those visiting Shark Bay and those residing in the region, who are determined to preserve the local environment, putting conservation at the forefront of their minds whilst maintaining their passion for fishing.’’ Fishing Development Officer – Matt Gillett.
The Code of Conduct covers:
- Using appropriate equipment
- Fish handling techniques
- Releasing fish
- Catch care
- Environmental protection
- Recreational fishing compliance
- Research and education
The Shark Bay Code of Conduct follows on from Fishing Codes of Conduct created for the Kimberley Region and the Pilbara Region.
This was all made possible via the Round 6 of Recfishwest’s Small Community Grants Program.
The next round is currently open and closes on the 12th October 2018. Read about the Grants Program here.
Congratulations to the Shark Bay Fishing Club and community for making this happen.
Pink Snapper are a favourite Western Australian recreational fishing species, available to boat fishers, shore fishers and novice fishers alike. Shark Bay in WA’s mid north-west is home to some awesome Pink Snapper fishing but this has not always been the case. Many fishers will have memories of the stock collapse in the 1990s when excessive fishing wiped out a large proportion of the Shark Bay Pink Snapper population. Strict regulations were put in place as part of a community awareness program to protect the remaining stocks. These regulations included a “tag-lottery” system whereby only fishers who received tags were permitted to fish for snapper.
A group of passionate Snapper fishers became actively involved in the management of the fishery and in the early 2000’s a group of keen community members joined forces and committed their own time and resources into catching Pink Snapper in the name of science. These fish were used to conduct a thorough stock assessment on the Shark Bay Pink Snapper populations and help shape management at the time.
These active community members aided the Department of Fisheries in collecting size and weight data of the recovering population, as well as collecting Pink Snapper otoliths (ear bones) to help with age studies, through the examination of annual growth rings on the otoliths. This information painted a picture of strong recovery for Shark Bay Pink Snapper.
As of January 2016, the unpopular tag system in Freycinet Estuary was replaced with new management arrangements which allow a bag limit of 2 Pink Snapper per day with a possession limit of 5kg of filleted fish within the Freycinet Management Zone. These changes were well received by the community who now have the opportunity to fish for this iconic species whilst maintaining this area as a wilderness fishing destination that doesn’t allow the possession of large amounts of fish.
These important stock assessments continue and with the recent collaboration of Recfishwest, another successful sampling trip was undertaken by recreational fishers in October 2016. These community champions once again donated their time and resources to ensure there is sufficient data to manage the fish they love to catch.
Stories like these reiterate how proper fisheries management informed by fisheries research can be used to successfully restore a heavily impacted fishery to a healthy and sustainable state. Recfishwest continues to support fisheries research and promote the activities that improve the fishing experience for the community.
Recfishwest welcomes the Minister for Fisheries Ken Baston’s decision to abolish the lottery based tag system for catching Pink Snapper in Shark Bay’s Freycinet Estuary.
The tag system was a restrictive management measure introduced in 2003 to the southern portion of Shark Bay’s western gulf (Freycinet Estuary) following an ongoing decline in Pink Snapper stocks.
New rules to allow improved access to Freycinet have been triggered after the latest fisheries assessment revealed a significant recovery of Pink Snapper stocks in the area.
Recfishwest’s Chief Executive Officer Dr Andrew Rowland said that Western Australia’s recreational fishers should be commended for their stewardship of the Pink Snapper resource following a decline of these iconic fish in the late nineties.
“The recreational fishing community is delighted to see the stocks return to such a healthy state,” Dr Rowland said.
“The Department of Fisheries has recognised the importance of Pink Snapper in Shark Bay, spoken with the local community and changed the rules to make fishing better.”
The tag system will be replaced with a special possession limit of five kilos of fillets or one day’s bag limit of whole fish per person for those visiting the Freycinet coast.
“The community care deeply about Pink Snapper and were keen to see the new rules align with the World Heritage values for which Shark Bay is recognised.”
“These new rules will allow more fishers to enjoy the fantastic fishing opportunities that Shark Bay has to offer while ensuring the health of the fishery for many years to come.” Dr Rowland said.
The new rules will come into effect on January 1, 2016.
Fact File (Map attached):
– Lottery tag based system for Pink Snapper in Freycinet Estuary abolished after 12 years of enforcement
– Daily Bag Limit for Freycinet is 2 per person per day (and all of Shark Bay)
– New possession limit of 5kg of fillets or 1 days bag limit of whole fish applies to the Freycinet coast
– Maximum size limit for Pink Snapper removed throughout Shark Bay