The opening of the recreational abalone fishing season in Perth and Geraldton last weekend was a major success, Fisheries Minister Gordon Hill said today.
"Fisheries officers on the beach-front have reported strong public support for abalone conservation controls, with very few breaches of either daily bag limits or legal size rules," Mr Hill said.
"Abalone fishers appear well-informed and also supportive of the need for a recreational fishing licence as part of the stock conservation controls."
A $20 recreational abalone fishing licence was introduced for the first time this year, in line with recommendations by the Recreational Fishing Advisory Committee.
The recreational abalone season will continue this weekend, with fishing being permitted between 7.00 am and 9.00 am only.
Mr Hill also reminded fishers that before removing abalone from the reef it was important to measure them and ensure they were at least 60mm long.
"Abalone are fairly delicate animals and research trials have shown that if there is the slightest damage to the foot of the shellfish, it is unlikely to survive even if it is placed carefully back on the reef," he said.
"Many people use screwdrivers to lever the abalone off the reef, and these can easily scar the foot of the abalone.
"Fishers should use a lever with a broad blade at least 2cm wide in order to minimise the risk of damaging the abalone.
"The smaller abalone on the reef top are next year's catch, so it is important that fishers protect them from unintentional damage."
Mr Hill also said abalone fishers should ensure they have their licences with them and make them available to fisheries officers for inspection on the beach.
Fisheries officers would continue to patrol the reefs this weekend to supervise the fishery and assist the public with any queries.
Mr Hill said a complete guide to the fishing rules for abalone and other shellfish was available from the Fisheries Department.
"Recreational fishing licences for abalone are available from all Australia Post and Fisheries Department offices," he said.