- Public consultation to support the essential recovery of pink snapper and dhufish stocks opens today
- McGowan Government has considered input from the fishing sectors to develop proposed management packages
- Recovery effort is vital to ensure demersal stocks are not lost to future generations and can recover to sustainable levels
Fisheries Minister Don Punch has invited Western Australia's recreational, charter and commercial fishers to comment on proposed management options to help rebuild stocks of demersal scalefish, including iconic indicator species pink snapper and dhufish.
The proposed management packages follow the latest scientific stock assessment, which showed West Coast Demersal Scalefish stocks were not recovering fast enough under the 2010-2030 recovery plan.
To enable stocks to recover to sustainable levels by 2030, the total catch limit has been reduced to 375 tonnes.
The McGowan Government, through the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), has considered feedback and preferred management tools from Recfishwest, the WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) and Marine Tourism WA to develop targeted management packages for the recreational, charter and commercial sectors.
Public consultation is now open for four weeks until Friday, 16 September.
Each proposed management package includes options for primary and supporting measures to achieve the reduced total catch limits necessary to see the recovery of demersal stocks by 2030.
For the recreational sector, the proposed primary management measures are to permit fishing in limited recreational open seasons.
Two options have been provided, one which allows fishing for demersal scalefish over the popular summer and autumn seasons, or the second option which allows fishing over autumn and spring seasons to avoid the peak spawning periods for key demersal species.
These options are designed to minimise the impact on tourism and regional jobs while supporting the recovery of demersal stocks.
For the charter sector, the primary measure proposed is the introduction of a tag system for charter operators, with specific limits on the number of demersal species that can be retained each year.
This provides flexibility for charter businesses to allow fishing for demersal scalefish under the tag system all year round.
For the commercial sector, the package of primary measures proposed includes reducing available fishing hours in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery (line fishery) and Southern Demersal Gillnet and Demersal Longline Fishery.
This will allow the commercial sector to continue supplying local markets with fresh local fish all year round.
These primary measures will be accompanied by a suite of supporting measures developed in consultation with each fishing sector, including enhanced spawning protection, measures to reduce the need to release demersal scalefish and post-release mortality, as well as research and education programs to improve understanding of demersal species to support the recovery.
DPIRD will consult directly with commercial licence holders on the proposed management package for the commercial sector.
The WA community can have their say on proposed management options for the recreational and charter sectors by visiting yoursay.dpird.wa.gov.au/wcdemersal
Management changes are expected to be implemented over the summer of 2022-23, together with an extensive education campaign.
For more information on the consultation process, visit www.fish.wa.gov.au/demersal
Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Don Punch:
"It is vitally important we continue to work together on management measures that ensure the recovery of some of our most iconic species including WA dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper.
"I understand these recovery measures will have an impact on fisher experience and I can assure fishers and the community that the decision to halve total catch limits based on the recent scientific stock assessment was not made lightly - but we must do what is necessary to ensure we still have demersal fish stocks in our waters in 2030.
"These proposed management options will achieve the required reductions in the total catch limits needed to see the stocks recover to sustainable levels set out in the 2010-2030 recovery plan to ensure these incredible fish are there in the future.
"We know recovery strategies work and that associated management measures are not permanent - with the successful recovery of WA's Australian herring resource following the 2015 recovery plan leading to increases in commercial catch and recreational bag limits this year.
"I have no doubt we will enjoy the same benefits of truly fishing for the future with these proposed management changes supporting the successful recovery of sustainable demersal scalefish stocks in coming years.
"I encourage all fishers to take this opportunity to have their input through the public consultation process."
Minister's office - 6552 6900