State Government’s Metro wire trace ban “goes too far”

Recfishwest believes Minister for Fisheries Don Punch’s decision to ban the use of wire trace 800m from shore between South of Mandurah to Two Rocks goes too far. 

We agree that fishing for large sharks in the Metro area does not meet communities’ expectations around responsible fishing.  

However, the Minister’s decision will unnecessarily impact on fishers who choose to use small wire trace to fish for species like tailor and mackerel either from the shore or trolling lures close in out of boats.  

Fishers use wire trace to fish for Spanish mackerel either fishing from the shore or trolling close in. In this picture Sam Vanduin @samvanduin‘s great Spanish mackerel was landed from Ammo Jetty using wire trace.

“Recfishwest had proposed reasonable and workable solutions to limit the diameter and length of wire trace – restricting fishing for large sharks without preventing tailor and mackerel fishers using their preferred gear,” said Recfishwest CEO DR Andrew Rowland.  

For example, limiting wire trace to 30cm length or shorter would have restricted shark fishing without unnecessarily impacting on fishers who target mackerel along the metro shores each summer. We can’t understand why this commonsense approach was not adopted.

“That said, we support the Minister’s call for local governments to rescind their multiple and ill-conceived local laws related to fishing that continue to contradict the overriding State-based fishing regulations.”  

 Andrew said he would be discussing the decision with the Minister. 

 “We will be asking for clarification from the Minister around if this new legislation will prohibit using a wire trace while trolling lures for mackerel close to the shore – as we don’t believe that was the intent of this legislation,” he said.  

Recfishwest’s position on fishing for large sharks from popular beaches

Given ongoing public discussion on shark fishing from popular beaches and, in light of some Local Government Authorties stepping out of their jurisdiction seeking to ban some fishing activities, this is Recfishwest’s position:

Recfishwest recognises shore-based fishing for large “trophy” sharks (greater than three metres ) at popular swimming beaches does not meet the community’s expectations of responsible behavior and Recfishwest supports action being taken by the State Government to address this issue.

For more than a decade, various Local Government Authorities have attempted to address these types of issues through ill-conceived, impractical and unenforceable local laws that are often inconsistent with overriding state-based fishing regulations. Recfishwest favours state-based fishing legislation that can address the community’s concern while minimising impacts on fishing for other species and fishing access to beaches that are not popular for swimming.

Recfishwest believes a change to fishing tackle rules will provide the most appropriate approach for managing public concerns around fishing for large sharks from Perth’s popular beaches. Limiting the shore-based use of wire trace to 2mm diameter and 1m length, combined with limiting the size of shore-based hooks to 12/0 and under, would effectively prevent the targeting and landing of large sharks. Importantly, this approach would not impact on fishers targeting other species such as tailor or Spanish mackerel.

Any changes to the gear used for shark fishing should not impact fishers targeting other large metro species such as Spanish mackerel, pictured above in a great catch from Ammo Jetty.

Implementing these gear arrangements for shore-based fishers between Two Rocks and the Dawesville Cut would address public expectations associated with responsible fishing at swimming beaches within the metropolitan area.

Recfishwest sees no evidence that fishing activities pose increased risk to public safety and supports research to assess all potential risk posed to beach-users from a broad range of activities along the metropolitan coastline. Such research will better inform the community, local government and policy-makers resulting in science-based management solutions for all relevant risks rather than management simply designed to address unquantified public fears.

Tailor are another species caught off metro beaches for which some anglers use wire and ganged hooks to target. Photo credit: Perth Fishing Safaris.

Local Council Fishing Rules a Statewide Concern

The Town of Cottesloe are currently seeking feedback on a proposal to prohibit the use of wire trace along the coastline over which it governs. This would cover almost 4km of coast.

Recfishwest have identified three major concerns with this proposal:

1. This proposed ban will impact people fishing for tailor and mackerel, who in some cases employ the use of wire traces to prevent being bitten off by such fish. This will essentially prohibit fishing for such species. Legislation that attempts to solve one issue, but creates another is generally poor public policy.

2. We note the Town of Cottesloe’s proposal extends 800m out to sea which appears a long way outside their boundary and thus jurisdiction. We see no reason why the council should preside over what you do or do not do when out fishing in your boat.

3. There are 137 local governments in Western Australia. Having a local Government prohibit specific fishing gear sets a concerning precedent for other councils to amend fishing rules within their own jurisdiction. Imagine how confusing fishing could become if each of the state’s 137 Local Government Authorities decided to alter the rules governing fishing within their boundaries.

Recfishwest oppose this proposal.

If you feel strongly about this like we do, we encourage you to write in a submission to the Town of Cottesloe voicing your concern over the proposed amendment and how it will potentially affect your future fishing experiences.

Written submissions on the proposed amended local laws may be made prior to 4.00pm on Monday, 13 May 2019 and should be sent to or PO Box 606, Cottesloe WA 6911. Please note, submissions without a residential address will not be accepted. We encourage fishers to also send a copy of their submission to Recfishwest at

For further info, visit the Town of Cottesloe’s website here.

To view Recfishwests statement on Local Laws click here.

To view Recfishwests statement on the banning of wire trace within the City of Cottesloe click here.