Snapper Guardians 2020 – the biggest and best yet!

What an awesome turn-out for Snapper Guardians 2020 – the biggest and best yet!

Hundreds of fishing families turned up to help us release 5,000 juvenile pink snapper into Cockburn Sound – showing how much they value the Sound and the fantastic fishery on Perth’s doorstep it supports. A massive thanks from us for all your support – it is a privilege for us at Recfishwest to be able run this event with the community.

The new Minister for Fisheries Peter Tinley came down with his family to show his and the Government’s support for this important initiative and we would like to thank the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) for collecting the eggs, hatching and rearing the fish in their aquaculture tanks and bringing the fish down on the day. We’d also like to thank our volunteers and our supporting partners Santos and Shimano Australia, who all helped make it happen.

Rest assured, we’ll be doing all we can to ensure this great event can happen again next year, the year after and for many years to come. Check out the gallery below – the big smiles everywhere says it all!

Check out some of the action!

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.

 

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.

WATCH: 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.

A spawning school of pinkies in the Sound!

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…

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.

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

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.

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.