Snapper Guardians to Forge Ahead

It is with disappointment that we bring you news that our successful Snapper Guardians program won’t include a release of juvenile fish this year.

The program, aimed at collecting fertilised eggs from Pink Snapper spawning aggregations in Cockburn Sound, rearing the larvae in the hatchery and releasing juveniles into the wild contains many inherent challenges. Whilst these challenges have been successfully managed during the first three years of our trial, during the past spawning season, all attempts to collect fertilised Pink Snapper eggs were unsuccessful.

As you can imagine, towing a fine mesh net around behind a small boat in the middle of the night in an attempt to collect enough 1mm fertilised eggs of a single species is not always met with guaranteed success.

While we’re extremely pleased with the success rate of this activity so far, the 2018 spawning season proved too challenging to overcome.

The reason for undertaking this project has not changed since its inception in 2015. Pink Snapper spawning aggregations in Cockburn Sound take place in an area subject to ever increasing pressures, both from nature and human activity.

While this program is not a substitute for looking after stock sustainability through traditional fisheries management measures such as size limits, bag limits and spawning closures, it acts as a readiness project that can make a big difference in assisting a population in the face of future uncertainties.

The Snapper Guardian egg collection method was devised to enhance the odds of Snapper survival during the most vulnerable first few months of life. Collecting a relatively small portion of fertilised eggs from the wild and raising juveniles in the Fremantle hatchery for release is, to our knowledge, the only project of its kind in the world. The Snapper Guardians program greatly expands our options in term of future management interventions and snapper stock enhancement options. In the short-term this program, if scaled-up, has the potential to accelerate the recovery of Pink Snapper stocks that are currently still rebuilding.

Despite the recent setback, we will continue to forge ahead with Snapper Guardians next year with an egg collection activity planned for this Spring.

 

Put Snapper on Your Agenda at Community Info Sessions

The Westport Taskforce want to hear from you.

Over the years there have been a number of proposals for a new harbour in Cockburn Sound. There is currently a taskforce (Westport) who aim to tell the government what the future transport needs of Western Australia will be and how to best achieve them.

The Westport taskforce will be holding three community information sessions across July and August in Fremantle, Kwinana and Bunbury and keen and interested fishers are encouraged to head down to let this taskforce know what you think. Due to venue limits, RSVP’s are essential.

Details of the upcoming information sessions can be found below:

Session details
Westport invite you to drop-in at any time during the two-hour sessions to speak with members of the Westport team.

Fremantle
Date and time: Wednesday 11 July 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Stackwood – 10 Stack Street, Fremantle 6160

Kwinana
Date and time: Wednesday 18 July 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Darius Wells Centre, Ken Jackman Room – Cnr Chisham Avenue and Robbos Place, Kwinana 6167

Bunbury
Date and time: Wednesday 1 August 2018 – 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Venue: Maker + Co – 75B Victoria Street, Bunbury 6230

Due to venue limits, RSVPs are essential.
Please email or call 6551 6479 to register and indicate which session you wish to attend.
For more information visit the Department of Transport website here:
https://www.transport.wa.gov.au/…/westport-port-and-environ…

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Recfishwest have secured a position on the environmental work group for the Westport taskforce so you can be sure this task force is well aware of the importance of snapper breeding grounds, seagrass nursery meadows, iconic wrecks and a number of other factors that make Cockburn Sound so important for fishing. Recfishwest has already provided a submission on the preparation of the Westport Strategy and we will provide submissions at every stage of the process until the final report is released towards the end of 2019.

Now is the time to provide input and ensure decision makers have the best available information with which to make the best possible decision. Should bad decisions be made because no one has given the taskforce the right information in the first place then we will only have ourselves to blame.

While we do not know what the final recommendation of the Westport taskforce will be, Recfishwest will continue to fight to protect the fishing experiences provided by Cockburn Sound just as we have been doing for decades.

A few people have asked where Recfishwest stand on an Outer Harbor.

To read Recfishwest’s position on the Outer Harbour issue see below: 

Recfishwest Protecting Cockburn Sound_Outer Harbour Position_July 2018

 

Another Year, Another Successful Snapper Guardians

Hundreds of families turned out to release thousands of juvenile Pink Snapper on the 10th of February at Snapper Guardians 2018.  The perfect weather conditions allowed kids and parents to get right in the water and watch their fish swim off into the wild.

So far over 100,000 Pink Snapper have been grown out and released through the Snapper Guardians program.

This program is continuing to build community stewardship for one of WA’s iconic species.

Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper stocks are one of the most important fisheries in WA as these waters are home to the largest spawning aggregations of snapper on the West Coast.

 “Fishing for Pink Snapper off the Perth coast is continually improving and there’s no reason why this fishery couldn’t be the best Pink Snapper fishery in Australia.” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland.

Photo courtesy of Julie Van Oosten Photography.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly was once again on the beach seeing first-hand how important this event is to the community, especially the children, many of whom got the chance to release their very first fish providing a positive experience that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Minster Kelly with Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland releasing some juvenile Pink Snapper.

“It was fantastic to join the hundreds of mums, dads, kids and avid fishers down at the beach for such a fun and important recreational fishing initiative.

Recreational fishing is an important part of WA’s way of life and an important economic driver. Which is why the McGowan Government supports recreational fishing projects through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Each and every licence holder contributes to this fund with 25 percent of recreational licence fees placed into this fund.

I congratulate Recfishwest and Fisheries staff at the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for their hard work on this project.”

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland expressed what his team are working so hard to protect.

“As your peak body organisation representing you, it’s our role to stand up and protect important waterways around WA such as Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper spawning grounds.” Dr Rowland said.

Photo courtesy of Julie Van Oosten Photography.

“We know there’s been a long running history of competing uses in the sound and getting the balance right will always be a challenge. Programs like Snapper Guardians play an important role in highlighting the importance of Cockburn Sound to our sector.”

“The team at Recfishwest would like to thank the hundreds of families that came down and did their bit for Pink Snapper in Cockburn Sound. We’re always thrilled to see the community rolling up their sleeves and making a difference!”

Photo courtesy of Julie Van Oosten Photography.

Snapper Guardians 2018 was made possible through funding from the State Government and the ongoing support of the WA community.

 

Relive the Excitement – Snapper Guardians is Back!

After two hugely successful years, we are excited to announce that Snapper Guardians is back! Relive the excitement all over again, bring your friends and family down and be a part of something special.

Recfishwest will be holding a community release event on Saturday, February 10th at Woodman Point and everyone who loves fishing and Pink Snapper are once again invited. You would remember that the Snapper Guardians initiative was born out of the concerns of recreational fishers over the Cockburn Sound fish kill in late 2015, and their desire to protect this important metro fishery.

The incredible community support and Recfishwest’s leadership in conducting the project resulted in the State Government committing to full funding for Snapper Guardians to continue in 2018 and another batch of juvenile pinkies to be released.

Those who have attended previous Snapper Guardian events will tell you that one of the highlights is the atmosphere, with hundreds of families being able to directly release fish into the water, run around on the beach and soak up the West Aussie lifestyle. It is a day out with the family you do not want to miss.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Event Details:
Where: Jervoise Bay, Woodman Point


When: 10am- 11.30am Saturday, 10th February 2018
Number of Fish Being Released: 5,000
What You Need to Bring: Family, Camera, Hat, Sunscreen, Snorkel for those who want to get in the water.

The Snapper Guardians story is one of which recreational fishers can be very proud. We’d love to see you down on the beach releasing your fish and please share with us your pics on the day. Simply take a pic, upload it to Facebook or Twitter, tag in @recfishwest or hashtag #Snapperguardians #Recfishwest #ilovefishing

 

Behind the Scenes: Snapper Guardians Egg Collection

Recfishwest recently joined the team from the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture and Research (ACAAR) on their mission to collect fertilised snapper eggs for this summer’s Snapper Guardian’s project.

Recfishwest habitat officer Michael Tropiano joined ACAAR where they successfully collected enough fertilised eggs to once again stock Cockburn Sound with one of WA’s most important recreational fishing species.

Check out the video below to see some of the action as it happened.

Pink Snapper are found throughout the world, however, in the West Coast bioregion of Western Australia, there are a few particularly special locations that we rely on every year to ensure the future of the wild stock for this species. Cockburn and Warnbro sounds are the largest and most important spawning grounds for Pink Snapper in the entire West Coast bioregion and the health of these systems has a close linkage to the ongoing health of the wild stock of this species. 

While all spawning in the same location makes for simple protection of spawning snapper (the closure in the sounds protects spawning snapper from 1 October – 31 January), for these fish, releasing all their eggs in one location does have the potential to be a risky strategy.

For any fish egg to hatch, and survive all the way to adulthood is a struggle against the forces of nature. For Pink Snapper, in particular, it’s the first few months when the eggs are most vulnerable. Whether a Snapper egg hatches and survives these first few perilous months is almost completely dependent upon the environmental conditions. Most years, unfortunately, the environmental conditions aren’t quite right and only a small number of snapper actually hatch and survive. Luckily there are a few times every decade when the perfect conditions line up with spawning time and there is a boom year with a huge number of snapper hatching and surviving.

Image: Bongo nets skimming the surface collecting snapper eggs.

The strategy to spawn all in the one location and the huge natural variations in their spawning success, coupled with the fact that the Pink Snapper stock is still in a recovery phase, means these snapper are literally putting all their eggs in the one basket…

Image: School of spawning Pink Snapper spotted on the sounder.

Given the importance of Pink Snapper to Western Australian fishers and knowing the risks associated with their spawning strategy, there was an investment in 2015 into a trial project to see if it was possible to create a Pink Snapper insurance policy. The idea behind the trial was to test if it was possible to collect a very small number of eggs from the wild (the amount spawned by only two or three snapper) and grow them large enough to potentially release, plus test the genetics to ensure they would reflect that of the natural population.

If this trial was successful (as it was), then it would provide an insurance policy in case something happened or the conditions turned out to be unfavourable for their survival in the sound year after year. The idea was that once these insurance snapper were to reach a size where they were no longer dependent on favourable environmental conditions to survive, they could then be released back into the wild to support the natural recovery of this species.  As with all insurance policies, you hope you never have to use them, however in 2015 there was a large fish kill in Cockburn Sound and the insurance policy was called upon in its first year.

The trial project proved to be a success and is now known as Snapper Guardians and has been running for three years. Over the last few weeks, the staff from ACAAR have been out working into the late hours of the night to try and to collect just enough eggs to create this year’s supply of insurance snapper. The good news is, it looks like they have been able to collect enough eggs to again begin running Snapper Guardians. The latest news is that snapper eggs have just hatched and are being carefully reared at their hatchery in Fremantle.

The plan this year is to again release the snapper back into the wild once they are big enough to survive on their own. Stay tuned for more details on how you can lend a hand in the community release day early next year.

Read WA Today’s coverage of our story, here.

Fact file
• The Snapper Guardians program has already released 100,000 baby Pink Snapper back into the wild.
• The original trial project was funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives fund and was run by ACAAR with support from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development and Recfishwest.
• In 2016 the WA State Government committed funds to continue the program running for two years.

Fisheries Fact Sheet: Pink Snapper Government of Western Australia, Department of Fisheries. 2011.

Reference
Fisheries Fact Sheet: Pink Snapper. Government of Western Australia, Department of Fisheries. 2011.Sourced:http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/Documents/recreational_fishing/fact_sheets/fact_sheet_pink_snapper.pdf

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.

Snapper Release, a Sound Success!

 

Round 2 of the Snapper Guardians program was another huge success, with plenty more fish going into the waters of Cockburn Sound. The community came out in force as an estimated 800 people, comprising of mums, dads, kids, grandparents and fishing lovers, turned up to release 3000 juvenile snapper, this was in addition to the 47,000 fish that were released two weeks prior to the Snapper Guardians fish release.

The release went smoothly with hundreds of families turning up to release fish. This event shows just how much the community cares and are willing to roll up their sleeves, show stewardship and to give back to the environment which supports their fishing.

Cockburn Sound’s Pink Snapper stocks are one of the most important fisheries in WA as these waters are home to the largest spawning aggregations of snapper on the West Coast. Fishing for Pink Snapper off the Perth coast is continually improving and we believe this fishery could be the best Pink Snapper fishery in Australia.

To date 100,000 Pink Snapper have been grown out and released through the Snapper Guardians program.

Snapper Guardians is just one of many Recfishwest led initiatives working towards improving habitat and fish stocks which build better environments, that support your fishing.

We look forward to next year’s Snapper Guardian Release event, which like this year has been made possible thanks to funding from the state government.

50,000 Snapper for Cockburn, a Sound Investment

Another 50,000 juvenile Pink Snapper will be released into Cockburn Sound in February 2017 as the remarkable Snapper Guardians project continues its legacy. Dust off your Snapper Guardians shirt and bring your friends and family who may have missed it last year or who you simply want to share your passion with.

The project is a wonderful example of how seriously fishers take the stewardship of their marine resources and what can be done when the recreational fishing community comes together with a common goal.

The Snapper Guardians initiative was born out of the concerns of recreational fishers over the Cockburn Sound fish kill in late 2015, and their desire to protect this important metro fishery.

Recfishwest set up the crowd funding campaign and the community did the rest. Keen fishers dug deep into their own pockets to support the stocking of Cockburn Sound with baby Pink Snapper and the generosity of local fishers exceeded all expectations, showing just how much they care about fish stocks and the natural environment.

The funds required to make the project happen were raised through individual and corporate support in a matter of hours, surpassing all expectations. This then allowed us to develop a release event where the people could come down, roll up their sleeves, get in the water and release fish back into the wild.

Hundreds of people, including plenty of kids and families, turned up to the release of 5,000 juvenile Pink Snapper in Cockburn Sound, attracting widespread media coverage which showcased how recreational fishers were willing to give back to the resource they care about.

In all, 50,000 Pink Snapper raised at the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research in Fremantle were released.

Those baby snapper were the result of a previous trial project supported by Recfishwest (funded through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund) to test egg collection methods for Pink Snapper eggs from Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds.

Coinciding with the fish kill tragedy, these eggs hatched and gave us the opportunity to grow the juvenile fish out to a size maximising their chance of survival in the wild.

The incredible community support and Recfishwest’s leadership in conducting the project has resulted in the State Government committing to provide full funding for Snapper Guardians to continue and another batch of juvenile pinkies are set to be released in February 2017.

One of the most satisfying aspects of last year’s Snapper Guardian program was the community release event where hundreds of children were able to directly release fish into the water. Once again Recfishwest will be holding a community release event on Saturday, February 11th at Woodman Point and everyone who loves fishing and Pink Snapper are once again invited.

Missed out last year or coming back to release more fish? Check out how you can be involved at this year’s release event below!

Event Details:

Where: Jervoise Bay, Woodman Point snap map

When: 9am-11am Saturday, 18th February 2017
Number of Fish Being Released: 3,000
What You Need to Bring: Family, Camera, Hat, Sunscreen, Snorkel for those who want to get in the water.

The Snapper Guardians story is one of which recreational fishers can be very proud. We’d love to see you and family down on the beach releasing your fish and please share with us your pics on the day. Simply take a pic, upload it to Facebook or Twitter, tag in @recfishwest or hashtag #Snapperguardians #Recfishwest #ilovefishing

Snapper Guardians FAQ’s

– Would all the eggs that hatched survived in the wild? No, in the wild survival is extremely low, only approximately 50 fish from the eggs collected would have survived. The amount of fish being released in this project would normally come from about 1.5 billion eggs.

– Why were eggs taken from Cockburn Sound only to be put back? An RFIF project to test egg sampling methods was carried out before the Cockburn Sound Fish Kills. Coincidently these eggs hatched and we had the opportunity to grow them to optimise their survival. This project protected the eggs through the most vulnerable stage of their lifecycle.

– How will we know if these fish will survive? They have been stained with a non-toxic coloured dye (you can’t see it). When a fish is captured in years to come and the otolith (ear bone) is removed, we’ll be able to identify these fish and know how successful this project has been.

Snapper Guardians: Egg Collection Success for 2017 Restocking Program

Following the success of last year’s Snapper Guardians program, Recfishwest and the Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research (ACAAR) team are at it again having just collected a new batch of Pink Snapper eggs from spawning aggregations in Cockburn Sound. This year’s program looks to raise and release 100, 000 juvenile snapper by the end of summer.
After monitoring the snapper over the past few weeks, the moon phase, weather and spawning aggregations were ideal for attempting an egg collection. With astounding success, the eggs were collected in one night, achieving the desired amount for the project in one attempt. Not only is this great news that the program can be underway early, but also a good suggestion that large numbers of healthy breeding Pink Snapper are abundant.

In the wild, the number of snapper eggs that reach maturity is very low, especially during early egg, larval and juvenile stages when they are particularly vulnerable to predators. By collecting wild eggs and assisting them through these early life stages, the Snapper Guardians program greatly increases the likelihood of these eggs surviving to adulthood. This means more Pink Snapper in our waters and better fishing experiences for Western Australians.

The next stage in the project is growing out the juvenile fish. ACAAR staff will then mark the juvenile snappers’ otoliths (fish ear bones) with a dye so that the stocked fish will be identifiable when caught in the wild. Once the fish have been marked and grown out to a certain size they will be released early next year.

Earlier this year 50,000 juvenile Pink Snapper were released into Cockburn Sound and Warnbro Sound after being nurtured through their most vulnerable larvae and early juvenile stages. ACAAR were responsible for conducting the egg collections and guiding them through their growth stages with their world class aquaculture facilities.

The project is funded by the West Australian Government, who recently committed $300, 000 to fund Snapper Guardians over the next two years.

These are exciting times for West Australian fishers and Recfishwest with ACAAR, is proud to lead this world first program. Snapper Guardians proves that investing in effective fisheries science can have an astounding effect on improving the quality of sustainable fishing for all in the community.

Boost for Snapper Guardians in State Budget

Recfishwest is delighted with WA State Government’s budget commitment which will see $300,000 over the next 2 years towards the release of more Pink Snapper fingerlings into Cockburn Sound. People stood up and made a pledge to chip in towards a solution, and it’s great to see the government throw their support behind this initiative.

This contribution will allow on-ground activities to focus directly on maintaining and protecting healthy fish stocks to support better fishing. It will also provide opportunities for the community to get involved. Recfishwest is also in ongoing discussion with authorities to ensure rapid response protocols are established to safeguard the health this important waterway.

Recreational fishers are champions of sustainable fish stocks and healthy fish habitats, and we look forward to rolling up our sleeves and making the next release as successful as the first!