This year’s whites run has been forecast to happen in late November according to one of WA’s leading rock lobster scientists.
However, the eager anticipation over this summer’s cray season is being overshadowed by community concerns that the proposed extension to Marmion Marine Park could see thousands locked out of some of the best prime cray fishing ground close to north Metro boat ramps.
According to DPIRD Principal Research Scientist Dr Simon de Lestang, this year’s whites run is expected to kick off around late November to early December.
This is welcome news for metro cray fishers who make up a large part of the State’s 53,000 recreational rock lobster fishing licence-holders.
Once the whites run gets under way, generally moving in a north-westerly direction, traffic at Metro boat ramps begins to fire up as many boat fishers enjoy heading out “at sparrows” to pull pots and grab a feed of crays often before work.
To help predict the upcoming run of the crayfish along the WA coast, DPIRD collect the puerulus – a juvenile stage of a cray – with specialised buoys mimicking natural algae habitat where juvenile crayfish will seek shelter.
Based on the analysis of previous puerulus numbers, we are expecting a similar season to last year, with a good steady flow of catches and sizes.
However, taking the edge of this year’s excitement around the upcoming whites run are growing community concerns that extensive no-fishing sanctuary zones in soon-to-be released Marmion Marine Park extension proposals that could cover extensive prime cray fishing ground on or inside the Three-Mile reef.
The proposed extension to Marmion Marine Park will see its boundaries extend from Trigg to north of Two Rocks and go out from the shore to large sections of the Three-Mile Reef (see map below) – with proposed sanctuary zones potentially impacting on large areas out from Hillarys, Ocean Reef, Mindarie and Two Rocks boat ramps.
“Shooting out the harbour to grab a feed of crays before work during the whites run is one of the things that makes living in Perth so good,” said Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland, “So we understand community concerns around sanctuary zones potentially heavily restricting fishing for crays out of north Metro boat ramps.
“That’s why we encourage all fishers to join our cast of thousands as a Recfishwest member to ensure our collective voice gets heard loud and clear when the marine park proposals are released for public comment potentially in the coming weeks.”