“One of the most dangerous fisheries in the world” under review

Abalone fishing laws in WA are under review because too many fishers are needing to be rescued (image: N. Yotarou via Wikimedia Commons).

WEST Australian fishing authorities have commenced an official review of abalone fishing restrictions around Perth’s metropolitan coast.

According to an article in WA Today, abalone fishing is currently open to licensed fisherman between 7am and 8am on the first Sunday of every month between November and March, between Busselton Jetty to Moore River.

However recent figures from Surf Life Saving WA have prompted calls to tighten restrictions even further, after it was found volunteers performed 325 individual rescues during the metropolitan abalone season in the last three years alone.

Department of Fisheries principal management officer Martin Holtz said the review into existing laws was necessary following last season’s impact on life-saver resources.

“This year we are also looking closely at fisher safety given the high level of preventative and rescue lifesaving services that are undertaken, principally by Surf Life Saving WA, during the one-hour fishing periods, especially when weather conditions are not ideal for abalone fishing,” he said.

“We will be working with SLSWA and Recfishwest as part of the review. The review will inform fishing arrangements for the next season.”

Recfishwest aim to submit to the review, and said it was important to address problems with existing laws.

“This fishery is regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world,” a spokesperson said.

“Since 2012 four people have died while fishing for abalone in Western Australia.  Two of these deaths occurred in Perth on the first day of the season – November – when weather conditions are usually at their worst.”

“Every year Surf Life Saving WA volunteers patrol popular metropolitan abalone locations.  This service consumes significant resources and takes a substantial personal toll on volunteers who are risking their own life to protect abalone fishers, particularly in adverse conditions.

Fisherman Fredrico Nevolo, 52, died in November last year after he was dragged from the water near North Beach during the abalone season opener.

It is believed his death was due to extremely rough swell, when he became caught in one of the holes near Mettam’s Pool.

Recfishwest has invited WA abalone fishermen to contribute to their submission, and created a survey in order to address concerns surrounding metropolitan laws.


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