State-wide finfish management review update

Coinciding with proposed changes to the west coast demersal fishery, the State Government also released proposals on State-wide finfish management changes which included a range of measures such as a decreased bag limit of three for demersal fish outside of the West Coast Bioregion (WCB). 

We share the community’s concerns about the impact the implementation of any final management decision for the west coast demersal scalefish fishery will have on areas outside the West Coast Bioregion.

However, we strongly believe further consultation is required before any changes to management regulations are made and have impressed this view upon Government.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said a State-wide management review would be welcomed, but it needed to be given the full and proper consideration it warranted. 

Recfishwest support developing and maintaining great fishing experiences for all in the community, forever,” he said. “Recfishwest acknowledges concern in recent years about the potential for localised depletion of important species in proximity to popular regional areas.   

“But we do not support DPIRD’s recent proposals as part of a State-wide review into finfish management and believe further consultation is required before any changes to management regulations are made.”    

A review of State-wide finfish management arrangements must look at action to address shark bite-off especially in the Gascoyne and North Coast Bioregions.

Further consultation expected

Recfishwest will be making the case to Government that further consultation should consider a range of factors including the following areas:  

  • Current possession limits;   
  • Current bag limits, especially in the South Coast Bioregion; 
  • The impact of removing boat limits for important recreational species such as coral trout and blue groper;  
  • Management regulations which force fishers to release fish that are unlikely to survive;  
  • Action to address shark depredation, especially in the Gascoyne and North Coast Bioregions;  
  • Current bioregional boundaries given a changing environment; and 
  • Understanding and incorporating social and economic values of recreational fishing into management frameworks.   

Andrew said, “Given the current community interest in finfish management outside the West Coast Bioregion and, given there are no current sustainability concerns for finfish outside the bioregion, we support further consultation with the community. This issue is too important to rush.”

Developing a harvest strategy for the west coast demersal scalefish recovery

In a positive development relating around the management of dhufish and pink snapper in the West Coast Bioregion, the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development (DPIRD) has set up a working group to develop a west coast demersal scalefish fishery harvest strategy.

Last December, DPIRD released the latest research on the status of west coast demersal scalefish stocks at the 10-year mark of the recovery plan.

Pink snapper are a highly-valued demersal species for WA recfishers.

The report noted there were good signs of recovery for this important and popular fishery, especially in the South West. However, the document also reported that there were some areas that were showing evidence of only limited recovery. The next full stock assessment is due, Recfishwest has been told by DPIRD, in late 2020.

The harvest strategy group is made up of eight representatives including one from Recfishwest and others from the recreational, commercial and charter sectors, as well as DPIRD.

“The harvest strategy will contain clearly defined management actions linked to the recovery of our favourite fish and should give us all confidence that dhuies and snapper, which are community owned resources, are being effectively managed to achieve agreed objectives,” said Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland.

To find out more about the working group click here 

To help Recfishwest represent your interests on the working group and develop the best harvest strategy possible, Recfishwest is encouraging recfishers to outline their views through the west coast demersal scalefish fishery survey.

CLICK HERE TO CARRY OUT THE SURVEY ON THE FUTURE OF THE FISHERY

Dhufish stocks in the South West are recovering, according to DPIRD’s findings.

“It should only take you a few minutes to fill in and by responding you will be having a say in the future of this great fishery,” Dr Rowland said.

“We’ve been asking the Department for a harvest strategy for some time now for this fishery as it clearly sets out a framework and roadmap for fisheries management decisions with clear objectives, assessments, trigger points and decision rules.”

Dr Rowland said it was important to note that a harvest strategy does not deal with specific fishing rules such as bag and size limits, but rather sets broad scale biological, economic and social objectives around how the fishery should be managed.

“We strongly believe in fisheries management transparency and, rest assured, we will be reporting back to you on each meeting of the working group and will share with you the draft harvest strategy for further comments and input,” he said.

“We want to ensure future generations of West Aussie fishers can continue to enjoy catching dhuies and pinkies. So, we’ll be doing everything in our power to make sure this special fishery continues to provide great fishing experiences, forever.”

To learn more about what a harvest strategy is check out this video from Fisheries Queensland 

To see a recent example of a harvest strategy, you can check out the strategy completed for the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Resource here