WA fishing ban proposal deadline looms as Recfishwest notes social, economic concerns

Western Australia’s peak fishing campaign groups are redoubling their efforts to force a review of the proposed fishing ban as the consultation period nears its close.

The proposal would limit prized or bottom-feeding fish species to recreational fishermen for up to nine months of the year, while commercial sector quotas would be cut to support mature populations crucial to the breeding season.

The current seasonal closure restricts the catch of species such as pink snapper, pink snapper and baldhead to the commercial sector from October 15 to December each year and restricts it entirely to recreational anglers.

However, the reconsideration of extending the closure comes after an extensive stock assessment found that demersal fish populations are not recovering in line with projected 2030 targets.

The WA government is considering extending the current seasonal closure from two to nine months.(ABC Southwest: Anthony Pancia)

The deadline comes as WA’s Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development director of water resources management Nathan Harrison said mature species were missing from the assessment.

“The real concern for us is the absolute absence of older fish in the population,” Mr Harrison said.

“There are very few fish over 10 years old left. There is a need to restore those age classes to ensure that breeding stock is at any adequate level.”

Silver fish near a coral.
A popular species targeted by WA anglers, the dhufish can live up to 20 years.(Supply: DPIRD)

Sliding scale for sectors

Commercial fishermen will see catch levels reduced by 50 per cent, while charter operators will be allocated a limited number of ‘tags’ distributed among an estimated 20 operators in WA. Both will then be allowed to fish during the closure period.

“It would be a very limited number,” Mr Harrison said of the tag allocation for charter operators.

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