Catch! - Recreational fishing news from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia
Issue No.50, July 2020

Send us your skeletons and win!

pink snapper swimming at night

Play your part in helping us manage our fisheries sustainably these winter holidays and you could walk away with a terrific prize. DPIRD’s Send Us Your Skeletons program calls on recreational fishers to donate their fish skeletons to our researchers to help us assess the status of our fish resources. This is particularly important as we monitor the recovery of iconic species such as WA dhufish, snapper, baldchin groper and Australian herring.

By sending in your frame (filleted skeletons with the heads and guts intact - you can keep the wings), you will go into the running to win our grand prize of a magnificent chartered fishing trip to the Montebello Islands courtesy of Montebello Island Safaris. If you miss out on that, you'll still be in the running to win quarterly prizes of a superb Daiwa Jigging Game rod, reel and braid combo, or Crewsaver lifejacket, kindly donated by Recfishwest, WA’s peak recfishing body.

We also need 50 adult snapper frames from the Esperance area to help scientists determine how closely related snapper from Esperance are to those across the Great Australian Bight. This is part of a national Australian Research Council project which will use genomic tools to unlock the information hidden deep in snapper DNA.

Frames can be frozen, so you can collect a few more before dropping them off, and we will also take dhufish heads. Find out how and where to donate here or contact for more information.

Image credit Dave Harasti

Fishing offshore - do you know about Australian Marine Parks?

Image of person holding fishing rod near the ocean

In Commonwealth waters off the WA coast, there are 22 Australian Marine Parks managed by Parks Australia. At key locations including the South West coast, Ningaloo Reef, the Montebello Islands and the Kimberley coast, they complement state marine parks by extending protection offshore.

The parks are managed in two networks, the North-west Marine Park Network and the South-west Marine Park Network. Each has its own management plan under which a broad range of activities are delivered.

For recreational fishers, having a good day on the water is paramount. Australian Marine Parks managers work closely with DPIRD, the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, and other key WA stakeholders like Recfishwest to make sure important information, like zoning and rules, is easy to find on existing apps or joint signs and brochures. DPIRD officers also carry out vessel and aerial surveillance on behalf of Parks Australia. If you have any questions or want to provide feedback, you can get in touch at or on 1800 069 352.

You can find marine park maps for your plotter, info and management plans online or follow Parks Australia on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to get the latest news on their management activities.

Image credit Colter Olmstead on Unsplash

Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey kicks off for 2020

woman fishing from back of boat with a fishing rod

Do you hold a Recreational Boat Fishing Licence? If so, you may be contacted between June and August by interviewers from ECU on behalf of DPIRD for the screening component of our Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey.

Surveys and their results help us understand the diverse recreational fishing that occurs throughout Western Australia, and allow us to continue managing fisheries sustainably, ensuring we have fish for the future.

Via email or phone, we will ask a random sample of licence holders about their fishing activities in the last 12 months. The fishers may then be asked to participate in the upcoming 12-month phone-diary survey.

New marina for Port Hedland

artist impression of what the marina will look like when finished

The design is complete and construction schedule has been set for Port Hedland's Spoilbank Marina, a project which will provide safer access to deep water, a sheltered area to moor vessels, plus a vibrant foreshore development for this iconic waterfront location.

Early work on this $121.5 million State Government project is scheduled for October, with over 200 direct jobs estimated to be created during a two-year build.

Features will include a four-lane boat ramp; 21 boat-pen marina with capacity to expand to 80 pens; separate entrance channel to the main shipping channel; trailer parking for up to 200 vehicles; public fishing jetty; shade structures at the swimming beach; Marapikurrinya Yintha Waterfront Promenade; and much more.

For more information, visit

POTBots help collect data

Image of cylindrical camera on the beach

A small army of robotic cameras have helped scientists continue their work to collect data on marine habitats, work which would have otherwise stopped due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The cameras, called POTBots (‘Pictures of the Bottom’), are small units that are mounted on fishing gear or inside a rock lobster pot. When activated, the POTBot records a video of marine habitats, temperature data, and positional information.

Previously, most surveys of marine habitats were based on sonar or video technology, which can be both expensive and time consuming. They also required researchers to spend large amounts of time at sea in a confined vessel, not possible during COVID-19 restrictions.

Thanks to commercial fishers and the POTBots placed in lobster pots throughout the fishery, scientists have been able to continue to collect valuable data every time a commercial fisher pulls and retrieves their catch.

Pink snapper closure at Bernier Island

Image of juvenile pink snapper swimming

The waters north of Bernier Island, including Koks Island, are closed to recreational and commercial pink snapper fishing for three months, from 1 June until 31 August inclusive.

It is the peak spawning period for these fish in the Gascoyne and the protection of these important aggregations is a key strategy implemented to recover this iconic species. You can play your part in supporting Gascoyne oceanic pink snapper recovery by sticking to the rules and avoiding them in the closed area.

Fishing for other species from a boat is allowed, but during this time it is illegal to fish for or be in possession of pink snapper. Visit our website for a map of the area or download our fact sheet for more information.

What is a fish kill?

Fisheries officer collecting dead fish

A fish kill is the sudden and unexpected death of fish or other aquatic animals such as crabs or prawns, dying over a short period of time and within a particular area.

They can occur due to a wide range of factors, most often natural changes in salinity, acidity, temperature, oxygen levels and algal growth; natural events; pollutants; and disease.

Fish kills should be immediately reported so that the cause can be identified as further fish deaths may be preventable.

DPIRD is responsible for fish kill events that occur in ocean environments. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation manages fish kill in inland waters, and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions manages fish kills in the Swan Canning Riverpark.

So what do you do if you come across a fish kill? Report it as soon as possible to our 24 hour hotline FishWatch on 1800 815 507. Please note where and what you saw including numbers of dead fish and species affected (with GPS coordinates and photographs if possible).

For your safety, DO NOT collect samples, consume any fish in the vicinity of the kill, collect fish for bait or allow pets to come into contact with the fish.

Flotsam, jetsam and shark data-recording receivers

In the Capes region including Gracetown, Three Bears, Windmills, Injidup, Yallingup and Prevelly, there is an extensive network of data-recording VR2 receivers secured to the sea bed, tracking the movement of sharks tagged in the scientific non-lethal SMART drumline trial. The data-recorders have an on board memory, and when retrieved, the information is downloaded for Western Australia’s Chief Scientist's independent assessment.

Occasionally, in extreme weather events, the receivers may break free of their mooring and wash ashore. If you happen to find one, call the department on 1300 374 731 (1300 DPIRD1) or email to arrange collection of the receiver.

To follow the SMART drumline trial operations, visit or use your Sea Sense and download the SharkSmart WA app.