Pink Snapper Need Our Help Again!

Minister Dave Kelly has provided his support for our proposal to increase protection for spawning snapper in and around Cockburn Sound.

You can find the details of the closure here.

You can read the story about the issue on WAToday here.

We would like to thank you all for your support of this proposal, without your support, we cant get stuff like this done!

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On Tuesday 9th July, we wrote:

Following last year’s pink snapper spawning season in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, Recfishwest held concerns over the effectiveness of the current rules in providing adequate protection for spawning snapper.

Recfishwest asked the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development to provide an update on current research, which was supplied yesterday.

Click here to view the Fisheries research update.

Recreational fishers have a long history of looking after pink snapper in Cockburn Sound. Each year, families release thousands of snapper fingerlings as part of the Snapper Guardians program.

This Fisheries research update indicates that:

  • There are fewer older snapper in the south-west/metro population than there should be;
  • There are a limited number of age classes in the population;
  • Pink snapper in spawning condition begin to gather in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds in August and September; and,
  • Evidence suggests that fishers are actively targeting pre-spawning fish as they make their way to the spawning grounds.

What does all this mean?

Put simply, snapper require more protection, particularly during the spawning period when they are very easy to catch due to their schooling nature and predictable migration pathways.

Given this Fisheries research update, Recfishwest propose the following:

  1. An extension to the current spawning closure period to include September (currently October to January),
  2. An extension to the current closure area to outside of Garden and Carnac Islands (see map below).
Recfishwest’s proposed pink snapper spawning closed area from 1 September to 31 January

We believe these measures will provide adequate protection to spawning fish whilst still letting fishers catch pink snapper on the Five Fathom Bank and along the rock groynes at Fremantle.

These measures will allow fish to spawn undisturbed as well as provide protection along the known migration pathways to snapper spawning grounds.

The Cockburn Sound pink snapper spawning aggregations are the largest and most important on the lower west coast. The breeding success of these fish is critical to maintain the future of snapper across the region.

The right time to do the right thing is right now and we’d like to see these measures introduced immediately.

See what our CEO Dr Andrew Rowland had to say below:

Future Focus for Gascoyne Pink Snapper

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.

Managing our states fisheries is an exciting and challenging task

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.

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

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.

Positive community engagement and consultation leads to better protection of these valuable fish

Community Champions – Snapper stocks prioritised!

The people of Carnarvon’s care and commitment to healthy fisheries has paid off with the Minister announcing a closure around the northern end of Bernier Island, offshore from Carnarvon to protect spawning aggregations of pink snapper.

The closure addresses concerns over the sustainability of Pink snapper in the Gascoyne region after a recent stock assessment completed by DPIRD (Fisheries) indicated a risk to snapper numbers, creating a concern for both Recfishwest and the Carnarvon fishing community.

Local fishers were asked to have their say, showing an overwhelming willingness to be part of the solution to protect the lifeblood of recreational fishing in the Gascoyne.

‘’This will benefit everyone in the fishing industry, just the same way it has in Cockburn Sound and the Inner Gulfs of Shark Bay. I’m happy with this proposal if it will contribute to the future of the fishery.’’ – Community member in Carnarvon.

Both local Carnarvon fishers and the annual visitors who are extremely important to our economy firmly support the spawning season closure of the pink snapper.’’ – Local community member.

With the community’s inputs, Recfishwest has been able to ensure the Government clearly understands the views of locals and visitors who enjoy fishing in the Gascoyne.

To read our advice to Government on the proposal, click here.

‘’Our role is to protect the interests of the community and support quality fishing experiences. Through good communication and consultation, Recfishwest were able to negotiate an outcome that satisfied the Carnarvon Community. The closed areas will now protect critical sites for reproduction and growth of the species.  It’s a great outcome for marine tourism and the local economy. The expected increase in fish populations means better fishing experiences for many years to come,” Says Recfishwest CEO, Dr Andrew Rowland.

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly praised all fishing sectors for working together to find a suitable solution to recover stocks of this important fish.

“I thank all the fishing sectors, commercial, charter and recreational, for their joint responsibility towards the stewardship of this important resource. Pink snapper is one of the most popular fish species in WA, and all of the sectors have been proactive in supporting the need for action to recover the oceanic stock,’’ Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly.

Recfishwest looks forward to seeing this important stock managed in a way which allows its immediate recovery and thanks everyone who has played a part, especially the people of Carnarvon, in the successful outcome of the proposal to protect these highly prized fish.

What does this mean?

The pink snapper spawning closure adjacent to Bernier Island is consistent with arrangements to protect pink snapper spawning aggregations in Cockburn Sound and Warnbro Sound. During 1 June to 31 August in any year (inclusive), the spawning closure in the Gascoyne region:

  • prohibits fishing for pink snapper;
  • prohibits fishing by line from a boat when pink snapper are on board;
  • allows boats with pink snapper on board to transit through or anchor within the waters of the proposed closure if no fishing by line is undertaken when in the waters of the closure; and
  • Allows fishers to fish for other species by line from a boat in the waters of the closure if no pink snapper is on board that boat.

To view the closure locations, click here.

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

 

New Artificial Reef Coming to Perth

Do you know that by purchasing recreational fishing boat licences and other fishing licences you are contributing to community driven projects aimed at enhancing your fishing?

 “The RFIF is a great way for the community to benefit from projects that focus on making fishing better. As a previous funding recipient we were able to stock 4.5 million prawns in the Swan River, 22,000 mulloway along the west coast and 100,000 snapper into Cockburn Sound for the people of WA.’ – Greg Jenkins – South Metropolitan TAFE.”

We are now excited to share with you the following projects which were funded by the Fisheries Minister for Round 6 of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund from 2017.

All of which are community initiatives based on habitat enhancement, stock enhancement, and research and data collection, including smaller community based recreational fishing projects.

  • North Metropolitan Artificial Reef
  • Stocking of Barramundi in Lake Kununurra
  • Guiding Principles for Accessing Urban Waterways
  • State-wide Reef Vision program
  • Determining the Economic value of the recreational salmon fishery
  • Fishability Schools Project
  • Innovative methods for monitoring recreational fishing in Shark Bay
  • Next Wave – Future Leaders in Recreational Fishing
  • Swan River Habitat Restoration
  • Goldenfish Initiative

Here’s what the WA Fisheries Minister had to say about the new projects in his latest Media Announcement: Tuesday, 15 May 2018.

North Metro Reef Highlights Round 6 of RFIF

Perth metro fishers will benefit from the new artificial reef announced as part of the recent RFIF round of funded projects. The final location and design will be undertaken in community consultation with fishing clubs and other stakeholders, which aims to deliver the greatest value to the people.

Depending on the final location and design, this artificial reef may deliver new pelagic fishing opportunities for species such as mackerel, samsonfish and yellow tail kingfish. If it results in more of a demersal focus, we’ll likely see many iconic species such as Pink Snapper, Dhufish and Skippy.

The announcement of a new northern metropolitan reef, comes five years after the deployment of Western Australia’s first ever artificial reef for fishing in Bunbury. Once in the water, the northern metropolitan reef will become WA’s seventh purpose-built artificial reef.

How the RFIF Works

Every year, recreational fishing licence revenue is credited to the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) which is administered by Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (Fisheries Division). This fund is your fund – money used for projects to make your fishing better!

After a thorough application process, which involves input from the Department of Fisheries, a prioritised list of projects is presented to the Recfishwest Board which then provide recommendations to the Minister for Fisheries of projects that the recreational fishing community of Western Australia would like to see funded.

Barramundi fingerlings release JANUARY 2013

 Applications for these projects which demonstrate the support of local fishers are given preference, while funding will be provided to projects that are beneficial and cost effective to the recreational fishing community.

These projects provide enhancement to WA’s recreational fishing sector and are an example of the fishing community working together with the state government to ensure recreational fishing licence money provides benefits to the sector.

 ‘Funding from the RFIF has enabled us and the help of our volunteers to create a welcoming environment and allow people with disabilities to socially interact, develop self-confidence, develop new skills and gain an appreciation of the environment.’’ – Di Bruce – Fishability.

‘’More money from the RFIF has allowed us to improve awareness of the dangers associated with recreational fishing,  coordinate the rock fishing safety strategy, coordinate with regional representatives to ensure the needs of the local community is addressed and most importantly help bring people home safe.’’ – Graham Couper – Chairman of S.E.C.R.F.C.

 Since 2010, more than 50 projects have funded from the RFIF.  Projects such as the community Snapper Guardians Restocking Project, installing Artificial Reefs, Barramundi Lake Kununurra Stocking program, Fishing Safety Strategy and Fishability which have been a result of YOUR licence money.

This a win for the fishing community and for your fishing!, We thank all those who put forward new initiatives for funding consideration and congratulate those who were successful in Round 6. We look forward to receiving applications in June for the 2018 Round 7 RFIF.

Conservation Leads to the Return of a Natural Phenomenon

Images of thousands of Pink Snapper forming incredible spiralling vortexes on the surface have recently gone viral! These vortexes are huge spawning schools of snapper and are something that, up until the last few years, Australian fishers have rarely seen before and there is a very good reason why we are only just rediscovering this natural phenomenon!

Image: This diagram shows what is happening inside the snapper vortex.

Many species of fish return to the same location every year to spawn. For Pink Snapper, 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.

The late 1990’s saw West Australian Snapper fishers become increasingly concerned with the targeting of spawning fish in Cockburn Sound. Snapper come into the sound in great numbers through winter to begin their annual spawning activities in spring. This provided fishers with an easy opportunity to target these fish in a relatively calm, accessible location right on the doorstep of the metropolitan area.

As stewards of the marine environment, fishers of the day were uncomfortable with the amount of snapper being caught during the spring spawning period and approached Recfishwest to advocate for a spawning closure to protect these important breeding fish. It was the first closure driven by recreational fishers to ensure long-term protection for a species which they held so highly.

In 2000, the then Fisheries Minister Monty House supported the recreational fishing sectors call for the protection of the spawning snapper and implemented a fishing closure in Cockburn Sound from September 15 to October 30.  This decision was the catalyst for what is now one of the most highly regarded fisheries management arrangements in WA.

After 17 years and a few changes to the spawning closure, including the extension of the closure into January as well as the inclusion of Warnbro Sound, Pink Snapper are now amassing in numbers never seen by many local fishers. This has led to many fishers witnessing the spectacle that is spawning snapper for the first time in their lives.

As the snapper come together to spawn they begin to circle in the same direction close to the surface until they form a dense spiral of fish. The power of these fish is such that it creates a vortex in the centre of this aggregation. For many species of surface spawning fish, it is thought that this vortex assists the eggs in rising towards the surface more quickly than they would without the help of the vortex (Heyman et al. 2005). While these snapper vortexes are a natural phenomenon, they are something that most fishers across Australia have never seen in their lives. While Pink Snapper have always spawned in Cockburn and Warnbro sounds it has only been the last couple of years that this phenomenon has begun to be seen again and it is largely thanks to local fishers that we can witness this again.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland remembers the day this Snapper closure first came into play and commended the fishing community for driving the important decision.

“If it wasn’t for the foresight of a proactive fishing community 17 years ago, the story may be a little different, it’s something we all should be proud of,” Dr Rowland said.

The spiralling vortexes of snapper and great snapper fishing outside of seasonal closures suggest the stock is continuing on its road to recovery. As populations slowly return to a healthy level, who knows what we will discover next about this important and fascinating species.

Check it out for yourself, this footage was taken during this year’s spawning season by the team at www.ilovefishing.com.au

Read our world first project supporting Pink Snapper recovery:

Behind the Scenes: Snapper Guardians Egg Collection

Check out the latest Pink Snapper egg collection video from October 2017, where fertilised eggs are collected to contribute to our Snapper Guardians Program.

References:
Reef Fish Spawning Aggregations: Biology, Research and Management. 2012. Sadovy de Mitcheson. Y., Colin. P., Fish and Fisheries Series 35.
Spawning aggregations of Lutjanus cyanopterus (Cuvier) on the Belize Barrier Reef over a 6 year period. 2005. Heyman, W., Kjerfve. B., Graham. R., Rhodes. K., Garbutt. L. Journal of Fish Biology (2005) 67, 83—101

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

Premier’s Position on Metro Gillnetting Spot On

Following any shark attack, there is inevitably an ill-informed call for the reintroduction of commercial gillnets between Lancelin and Mandurah under the guise of improving public safety.

Premier McGowan was recently quoted as saying the reintroduction of gillnets to the metropolitan area ‘wouldn’t make any difference’ to great white shark numbers and therefore public safety, and he is absolutely correct.

In 2007, an important decision was made by the Labor Government to remove gillnet fishing from Lancelin to Mandurah. This decision was based on sustainability and resource sharing concerns for Pink Snapper and Dhufish. This decision is still widely regarded by the recreational fishing community as the single most important and positive decision for recreational fishing by any Fisheries Minister.

The benefits of this decision are only now starting to be seen with Dhufish and Pink snapper stocks showing signs of recovery.

Every time there is a call for the reintroduction of the metropolitan shark fishery Recfishwest is inundated with calls from concerned fishers who are worried the great fishery they have worked so hard to rebuild is about to be impacted again by gillnets.

Recfishwest cares deeply about public safety and supports the Government in taking practical steps to improve safety measures related to sharks in WA however in absence of evidence linking gillnet fishing to improved safety, Recfishwest will strongly oppose any attempt to re-introduce gillnet fishing to metropolitan waters.

Recfishwest actively promotes boating and water safety initiatives as we believe all West Aussies should return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing. WA’s 140,000 recreational boat fishing licence holders have a role to play as eyes on the water especially in the early reporting of shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.

The Facts:

• There is zero evidence to suggest gillnet fishing will lead to improved safety outcomes for the community.

• The majority of shark fatalities in W.A. have occurred in areas where gillnet fishing still occurs.

• Waters Lancelin to Mandurah was closed to gillnetting in 2007 to protect Dhufish and Pink Snapper stocks and a $5 million dollar compensation package was made available to commercial fishers at the time by the state government.

• Shark fishing with gillnets outside metro waters uses a small mesh net and lands almost 1000 tonnes of small sharks annually. The mesh used is far too small to effectively catch large sharks.

• Any reintroduction of gillnets to Perth waters will jeopardise the recovery of Pink Snapper and Dhufish stocks and is unlikely to capture a single “problem” shark.

No Science to Support Gillnet Safety Claims

The Facts:

– Recfishwest supports the Government in taking practical steps to improve safety measures related to sharks in WA
– In absence of evidence linking gillnet fishing to improved safety, Recfishwest will strongly oppose any attempt to re-introduce gillnet fishing to metropolitan waters
– Recent calls regarding positive public safety outcomes from gillnets are unfounded
– Waters Lancelin to Mandurah were closed to gillnetting in 2007 to protect Dhufish and Pink Snapper stocks (Figure 1 below)
– A $5 million dollar compensation package was made available to commercial fishers at the time by the state government
– Shark fishing with gillnets outside metro waters lands almost 1000 tons of sharks annually
Recfishwest cares deeply about public safety. The fishing community include those who enter the water spearfishing and diving and many others who go surfing, swimming and enjoy other aquatic recreational activities.

In November 2007 the then Minister for Fisheries, the Hon. Jon Ford, MLC announced the removal of gillnets from the metropolitan area following concern for the sustainability of iconic fish species such as Dhufish and Pink Snapper. This decision is still widely regarded by the recreational fishing community as the single most important and positive decision for recreational fishing by any Fisheries Minister.

Calls have been made for the reintroduction of the metropolitan shark fishery, by linking the 2007 closure to recent shark attacks. No evidence has supported these calls. Unsurprisingly Recfishwest has been inundated with correspondence from concerned fishers who are worried that the great fishery they have worked so hard to rebuild is about to be impacted by gillnets. Recfishwest firmly believe that there is no justification for gillnets in metropolitan waters and fought hard for many years for the removal of this particular fishing method.

This issue is of great importance to many fishers as gillnet fishing impacted on a number of important bottom fish species in the metropolitan area. The benefits of the decision to remove the nets are now starting to be seen with Dhufish stocks showing signs of recovery as supported by the latest scientific stock assessment.

The removal of gillnets from metropolitan waters was only one of a number of management measures across both the recreational and commercial sectors that were undertaken in 2007 to meet the sustainability challenges for Dhufish. The government provided millions of dollars in compensation to commercial fishers who were displaced. It is worth noting that fishing for sharks and finfish with gillnets has operated for decades North of Lancelin and South of Mandurah through to the SA boarder and continues to land almost 1000 tons of sharks and rays annually.

Recfishwest actively promotes boating and water safety initiatives as we believe all West Aussies should return home safe at the end of a day’s fishing. WA’s 140,000 recreational boat fishing licence holders have a role to play as eyes on the water especially in the early reporting of shark sightings to Water Police on 9442 8600.
We do not believe that the re-introduction of gillnets to metropolitan waters will improve public safety. We do not support a misguided attempt to solve one problem by creating another.

Recfishwest supports decisions based on science!
Map Courtesy of WA Department of Fisheries – STATUS REPORTS OF THE FISHERIES AND AQUATIC RESOURCES OF WESTERN AUSTRALIA 2014/15 (pg 269)

The following Media Release is from 2007 on behalf of then Fisheries Minister John Ford.

MEDIA STATEMENT NOV 2007

Metropolitan fishing closure will help sustainability of iconic fish

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Today marks the closure of commercial line and gillnet fishing in the Metropolitan Fishing Zone, between Lancelin and south of Mandurah, as part of a fishing reform package to ensure sustainability of fish for the future.

Fisheries Minister Jon Ford said a $5million compensation package will be available to buy-out commercial line and demersal gillnet fishers within the metropolitan zone.

Only about eight licence holders are expected to be fully impacted by the new ban, with other metropolitan zone fishers able to continue fishing in other parts of the West Coast Bioregion, which runs from Kalbarri to near Augusta.

Various commercial fisheries will still be allowed to operate in the metropolitan zone including the lobster fishery, purse seine fishing for sardines and the South West Trawl fishery which takes prawns, scallops and small fish.

Mr Ford said that although a handful of fishermen would be impacted by the ban, consumers should experience little if no impact from this Western Australian Government policy.

“Only about three per cent of demersal scalefish consumed in WA comes from the metropolitan zone, with 97 per cent of the supply coming from WA’s northern fisheries. So there should be very little if any change in prices,” he said.

“In any case, fish such as dhufish and pink snapper have been over-priced for most Western Australians for several years. But with better sustainability practices by this fishery, supply should improve in the long-term and prices should become more realistic.”

The Minister said the difficult decision to introduce the metropolitan zone fishing ban was necessary to ensure sustainability of iconic demersal scalefish such as dhufish and pink snapper.

“New research presented to me showed an immediate reduction in catches of key demersal scalefish, of about 50 per cent, was required to ensure the sustainability of these fish in the Metropolitan Fishing Zone,” he said.

“In making the decision, I considered the following points: The metropolitan zone attracts about two-thirds of all recreational fishing effort between Kalbarri and near Augusta; commercial catches of demersal species in the metropolitan zone accounts for about three per cent of the State’s entire catch of demersal scalefish; a shared reduction by commercial and recreational sectors was likely to have made the remaining commercial sector unviable; and compensation would be available for affected commercial fishers, while many metropolitan zone fishers will still able to operate outside of the metropolitan zone.

“Having considered these issues, I decided to remove all commercial line and gillnet fishing in this area. This decision is in keeping with the Integrated Fisheries Management that allows me to make allocation decisions, which can include the option of zero allocation.”

Mr Ford said that while the Metropolitan Fishing Zone was now effectively an exclusive zone for recreational fishing of demersal scalefish such as dhufish and pink snapper, he was not ignoring the fact that recreational fishing also had an enormous impact on fish stocks.

“Our current management arrangements such as bag limits are no longer sufficient to keep abreast with the increasing pressure on our fish stocks. That’s why we need a new and innovative management strategy for recreational fishing of demersal scalefish along the West Coast Bioregion,” the Minister said.

“The discussion paper I released in September invites the public to have their say about what this new management strategy should involve. Submissions close tomorrow, November 16, so I urge people to make their submissions. Your ideas will be very helpful in deciding the fate of recreational fishing.”

ENDS