Western Australia’s Fisheries Minister Norman Moore has reopened the West Coast Bioregion for high-risk demersal (bottom-dwelling) scalefish following a two-month seasonal closure of the fishery.
Moore said he was encouraged that recreational fishers had achieved a high level of compliance during the first such closure of the fishery for high-risk species such as dhufish, baldchin groper and pink snapper.
“While on 144 patrols, fisheries officers made contact with more than 2,200 recreational fishers between Kalbarri and Augusta during the two-month ban from October 15 to yesterday,” he said.
“All but a few fishers contacted during this time were observing the important sustainability rules and I am encouraged that recreational fishers appear to have heard the crucial message about protecting our important fish stocks.
“The department advises that only 10 infringement notices and six warnings for demersal fishing-related matters were recorded during the two-month closure.”
Fisheries and marine officers had also reported the number of recreational fishing boats on West Coast Bioregion fishing grounds was estimated to be down 40 to 80 per cent.
The Minister announced the introduction of a two-month seasonal closure following independent reviews which supported Department of Fisheries research warning of the vulnerability of popular deep sea species such as dhufish and pink snapper.
“Although there is some evidence of a shift of fishing effort to other species, progress in reducing the take of high-risk species by 50 per cent has occurred,” he said.
“We will know more about the effectiveness of the strategy when arrangements are reviewed next year.”
Moore urged recreational fishers to make themselves aware of the new rules that applied with the reopening of the demersal scalefish fishery, in particular changes to the categories of fish and the new bag and boat limits.
It is not compulsory for WA rec anglers to obtain the state’s new Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence (RFBL) until March 2010.
Information on WA rec fishing rules is available at: http://www.fish.wa.gov.au/sec/feed/fishwatch/index.php?0803