Catch! - Recreational fishing news from Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Western Australia
Issue No.49, April 2020

Online survey to identify ways to limit depredation

Fish with shark bite

Western Australian fishers can help provide important information for the recreational fishing sector by taking part in a survey to identify methods used to limit loss of fish from shark bite-offs, otherwise known as shark depredation.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has received funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund to research how recreational fishers and charter operators tackle shark depredation.

Information generated from this project will be used to inform policy and research to address shark depredation concerns for recreational fishers in WA, particularly in the northern areas of the State.

The survey should take no more than 15 minutes to complete and all information collected will be treated as confidential.

Take part in the survey

Rec fishing survey results are in

Western rock lobster

The latest WA Recreational Boat Fishing Survey is now available online, and as always it’s full of fascinating insights into the catch of rec fishers. Produced every two years, the most recent 12 months of data comes from 2017/18 and reveals that an estimated 695,000 western rock lobsters were caught by boat fishers - making it WA's most-caught species for recfishers.

Until now, this comprehensive survey on what recreational fishers are catching around the State has revealed the blue swimmer crab as king, but the results of the latest research show that the western rock lobster has now taken the crown.

Researchers from the Department found that an estimated 667,000 blue swimmer crabs were caught over the year, making it the second most popular species for boat-based fishers.

You can read more about the results of the survey here.

Department responds to COVID-19 pandemic

As the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to be felt across the community, the Department is working closely with industry and the regions to help manage the impacts and provide support. 

We’re also taking heed of the advice from the Federal and State Governments around social distancing and non-essential travel, and most of our staff are now working from home. In short, unless you’re going out for work or education, shopping for essential supplies, going out for personal exercise, or attending medical appointments or compassionate visits, everyone needs to stay home.

In a time of ever-changing information, it can be difficult to know where to go to get the most accurate advice. Thankfully, there are some great websites that are regularly updated and should be your first port of call when you’re looking for the latest details.

The State Government’s COVID-19 page has sections dedicated to the interstate and intrastate travel restrictions, and the Department of Health’s HealthyWA page has a wealth of information about COVID-19 itself.

Abalone season wraps up for 2020

Abalone fisher carrying a bag of freshly caught abalone

Another successful and safe abalone season has wrapped up, with Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) making more than 1,000 preventative actions to help keep abalone fishers safe.

Recreational licence fees help fund organisations such as SLSWA, to ensure lifesavers get the training required to know how to rescue someone fishing on or off a reef, and to continue their vital work.

SLSWA has a comprehensive approach to abalone safety and fisher education and a team of dedicated volunteer lifesavers who monitored the West Coast Zone during the 2019-20 season.

Fishers fined for illegal use of nets

Set net used illegally

Netfishers are reminded to adhere to fishing rules relating to the use of set, haul, or gill nets or face tough penalties, after two men from the Mid-West were found guilty in the Geraldton Magistrates Court in february of taking fish by way of a set net and exceeding the daily bag limit for mullet from the Greenough River.

The pair, who were fined more than $6,500, were stopped by fisheries officers as they left the Greenough River boat ramp last November. It was established that the fish in the boat had been caught with a set net.

Fisheries officers regularly patrol inland waters in search of any illegal fishing activity and the taking of fish using a set, haul or gill net from rivers, estuaries and inlets in Western Australia south of the Tropic of Capricorn (23 parallel) is prohibited. These systems are critical to the sustainability of WA fisheries as they provide food and shelter for juvenile and migrating fish.

If you suspect illegal fishing activity call FishWatch on 1800 815 507 to report what you have seen. It is recommended to not approach anyone you think is involved in illegal activity involving fish or fishing, but by reporting what you see you will be helping to protect WA's fish resources for future generations.

Land-based warning beacons enhance Sea Sense

BEN sign and shark warning tower

The installation of new shark warning towers at three popular beaches around Esperance got underway at the beginning of February. The towers will feature visual and audio warning systems, with the local council managing their day-to-day operations and alerts.

Shire rangers will remotely trigger the three new towers - at Kelp Beds, West Beach and Twilight Beach - when tagged shark detections, or shark sightings in areas near the beaches, are posted on WA's shark notification system.

Once activated, a tower siren emits a warning tone, followed by a voice message informing of nearby shark activity. Red flashing lights on the towers simultaneously provide a visual warning to beach users.

Shark sightings near Esperance can be reported to Water Police by calling 9442 8600, and the notification system will relay the report to the Esperance Shire rangers who can then activate the relevant shark warning tower.

Photo courtesy of Shire of Esperance