Kim Chance

Kim Chance

Minister for Agriculture and Food; Forestry; the Mid West and Wheatbelt; Great Southern

    Discussion papers on finfish management released to the public

    14/01/2005 3:10 PM

    Formal management of all the State’s finfish resource has moved a step closer with the release of public discussion papers.

    The three papers are the result of a two-year review of the West Coast and Gascoyne commercial wetline fisheries.

    Fisheries Minister Kim Chance said the wetline review was initiated to explore options that would help ensure the sustainability of scalefish stocks into the future.

    “The reviews set out to develop a framework for the effective management of commercial wetline fisheries,” Mr Chance said.

    “The proposed management arrangements will also complement recreational fishing reviews of the West Coast and Gascoyne bioregions.”

    The term ‘wetlining’ refers to fisheries that are not under formal management arrangements and is usually used to describe the catching of scalefish, using handlines or droplines.

    Wetlining is the last major activity available to holders of Western Australian fishing boat licences, who do not hold managed fishery licences.

    The review has also addressed management arrangements for the use of nets in inshore areas to target species such as mullet or whiting in some areas.

    Two specially appointed management planning and commercial access panels conducted the reviews.

    The panels will be reconvened after the three-month public comment period has closed to review the submissions and to further consider their recommendations.

    In its paper, the Commercial Access Panel (CAP) proposes that long-term wetliners - those that have a history of wetlining over a number of years prior to, and since, the 1997 benchmark date - be given priority access to the fisheries.

    It proposes that should the average catch of long-term wetliners be less than the estimated sustainable catch for the management area concerned, then the remaining catch may be allocated to those fishers who started wetlining after the 1997 benchmark date.

    The management papers contain several key proposals including:
    • the State's wetline fishery should be regionally managed with the West Coast region divided into four zones - 'Kalbarri', 'Mid-West', 'Metro' and 'South-West’;
    • the Shark Bay Snapper Managed Fishery should be integrated into a wider Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery;
    • a vessel monitoring system (VMS) should be used to monitor the fleet; and
    • the type and quantity of gear used by each boat in the wetline fishery should be clearly specified.
    The papers also recommend that those fishers who do not get access to the managed demersal scalefish fisheries should be allowed to take fish for personal use.

    The Management Planning Panel (MPP) suggests the level of this personal catch should initially be set at the same level as recreational bag limits, but the total take should be accounted for in the commercial ‘share’ of the demersal scalefish resource.

    Copies of the discussion papers can be downloaded from the Department of Fisheries website at and printed copies are available by telephoning (08) 9482 7333. Submissions may be made electronically, using a link from the website.

    Minister's office: 9213 6700