Fisheries Minister Jon Ford has today announced a one-week extension for public submissions on a package of proposed changes to recreational fishing for some of the State’s most popular and vulnerable oceanic fish species.
People wanting to have their say about the future management of recreational fishing for these vulnerable iconic fish in the West Coast Bioregion (between north of Kalbarri to east of Augusta) now have until May 7 to make a submission.
Mr Ford released a Ministerial Position Paper on March 28, detailing 11 recommendations aimed at saving some of WA’s most vulnerable iconic fish, especially the so-called ‘Vulnerable 5’: dhufish, pink snapper, baldchin groper, breaksea cod and red snapper.
The Minister said a new approach to managing recreational fishing was imperative to ensure the survival of some of the State’s most vulnerable fish at a time when Western Australia was facing unprecedented pressure from overfishing.
One of the contributing factors to overfishing has been the State’s burgeoning recreational fishing fleet. Significant changes to commercial fishing have already been introduced in recent months, including a ban on the commercial catch of scalefish and sharks in the metropolitan fishing zone.
Research released last year showed that overfishing was at risk of pushing some of WA’s most vulnerable and iconic species to the brink of collapse. The research showed that a catch reduction of at least 50 per cent was needed to help stabilise and replenish these fish populations.
“The reality is that we have to look after our fish resources in a more sustainable way or some of these fish species could vanish and we don’t want WA’s unique lifestyle to disappear along with them,” Mr Ford said.
“We have to act now and everyone has a role to play to save our fish to ensure we have fish for current generations, as well as fish for the future. The commercial fishing sector has played their part and now it’s time for the recreational fishing sector to step up to the plate.
“A balance between preserving the enjoyment of the recreational fishing experience and saving our iconic fish is achievable.
“I believe the package of recommended changes that I have released will achieve this balance between the social value of recreational fishing and the need to save our fish for the future.”
Mr Ford said his package of 11 recommendations was designed to achieve a 50 per cent catch reduction of the key species in the West Coast Bioregion. The recommendations included bag limits and boat limits for certain species, increased size limits for pink snapper for much of the West Coast Bioregion, a split seasonal restriction for the ‘Vulnerable 5’ and greater protection of fish in the Abrolhos Island fish habitat area.
The Minister said the recommended changes would allow recreational fishers to still catch a wide range of fish species.
Specifically, the proposed package would not apply to people fishing for the usual fish species caught from beaches, jetties and groynes. Also, the recommended changes would not apply to people fishing for species such as squid, whiting, skippy, and nor would the changes be focused on people fishing for ‘pelagic’ fish such as Spanish mackerel and tuna.
“The recommended changes are only proposed changes at this stage and we’re obviously receptive to fine-tuning them. But let’s not kid ourselves into thinking everything will be fine if we take a softly-softly approach,” Mr Ford said.
“We have to ensure that the measures we take to curb the pressures from recreational fishing are robust enough to make an immediate impact and help fish populations recover.”
More than 200 public submissions have been received since the release of Mr Ford’s recommended changes, as well as the Fisheries Management Paper No.228: ‘A strategy for managing the recreational catch of demersal scalefish in the West Coast bioregion’.
The Minister said the submissions had provided valuable feedback from fishers and other community members.
“Given the interest in these proposed changes, I’m keen to ensure everyone who is interested has the chance to make sure their views are considered in the process of determining the final changes to recreational fishing,” he said.
“I welcome a healthy and constructive debate about the recommended changes and reiterate that everyone has to play their part to save our fish so that the recreational fishing experience endures for existing generations and for many generations to come.”
Submissions can now be made through the post or online at http://www.fish.wa.gov.au until 5pm, May 7.
Minister's office - 9213 7200