How are catches shared between the recreational and commercial sectors?
To enable stocks to recover to sustainable levels by 2030, the total catch limit has been reduced to 375 tonnes. This is shared between the fishing sectors, with 135 tonnes allocated to the recreational (including charter) sector and 240 tonnes to the commercial sector.
All sectors’ total catch limits have been reduced by 50% to ensure recovery.
What are recovery benchmarks?
Recovery benchmarks are the total fishing mortality (retained catch + post-release mortality) limits each sector needs to remain below each year to allow the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource to recover by 2030.
What is the metropolitan commercial closure?
In 2007, the metropolitan closure was introduced to give the recreational sector priority access to the waters off the metropolitan area. This was done in recognition of the proximity of WAs major population centre to the metro waters.
Commercial line and demersal gillnet fishers are not allowed to operate between Lancelin and south of Mandurah.
Primary and supporting measures
What are supporting measures?
These are the management tools that individually or in combination aim to support the recovery of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource.
The supporting measures are likely to be in place for longer periods of time and will be reviewed every three to five years.
What are primary measures?
These are the management tools that either individually or in combination deliver the bulk of fishing mortality reductions to meet the new recovery benchmarks.
Primary measures need to be reviewed and adjusted annually to ensure each sectors’ total fishing mortality is maintained below recovery benchmarks.
What consultation has already occurred with the fishing sectors?
Between March and June, Recfishwest, Marine Tourism WA and WAFIC led direct consultation with recreational fishers, charter operators and commercial licence holders, respectively.
The State Government, through DPIRD considered feedback on preferred primary and supporting measures from Recfishwest, Marine Tourism WA, and WAFIC. DPIRD developed targeted management options for the recreational, charter and commercial sectors based on the preferred management tools put forward by each of the peak sector bodies.
What is the consultation process being led by DPIRD?
Following feedback from the peak sector bodies, DPIRD is leading a public consultation process to seek the views of recreational, charter and commercial fishers and wider community on proposed management packages to support the recovery of demersal scalefish stocks.
Each proposed management package includes options for primary and supporting measures that will achieve the reduced total catch limits necessary to support the recovery of demersal stocks by 2030.
Where can I find the proposed management packages for the recreational (including charter) sector and commercial sector?
You can find the proposed management packages within the consultation papers for the recreational (including charter) sector and commercial sector, on DPIRD’s YourSay consultation page.
How do I provide feedback on the proposed management packages?
On DPIRD’s YourSay consultation page, there are separate surveys for commercial, recreational and charter fishers. You are encouraged to have your say by making a submission on the survey that is relevant to you.
To complete the online submission form, you will need to register on YourSay first if you have not registered previously.
What if I experience technical problems with the YourSay website?
If you have any trouble accessing or registering on the YourSay website, send an email to email@example.com and someone will be in touch to help.
When does consultation finish?
The consultation period has been extended by two weeks and will now close at 5 pm on Friday, 30 September.
Primary proposals for recreational and charter sectors
Why are there separate surveys for the recreational and charter proposals?
Based on feedback from Marine Tourism WA and Recfishwest, different primary measures are proposed for recreational fishers and the charter fishery. DPIRD is seeking feedback from charter licence holders on the proposed charter measures. As a recreational fisher, you can include any comments on the proposed arrangements for the charter fishery at the end of your recreational survey submission.
Why are there only two limited season options for recreational fishers, what if I support neither?
Recreational fishers supported the consideration of fixed demersal fishing effort closures as the primary measure for the recreational fishery, as seen in the outcomes of Recfishwest’s survey.
The two limited recreational season options have been developed by DPIRD to achieve the recreational fishery’s revised recovery benchmark of 115 tonnes.
In real terms, this equates to roughly 40,000 demersal fish that can be kept every year by the 40,000 recreational anglers who fish in the West Coast Bioregion.
There is a free text section at the end where you can have your say, including any alternative solutions you would like considered that will meet the revised recovery benchmark and allow the resource to recover.
Why are there a different number of fishing days proposed for the two recreational fishing season options?
The number of proposed recreational fishing days is based on historic catches by recreational fishers.
Two options have been provided, Option 1 (94-day season) allows fishing for demersal scalefish over the popular summer and autumn seasons and Option 2 (123-day season) allows fishing over autumn and spring seasons and avoids peak spawning periods for key demersal species.
Why is there an option of two fishing days each year for recreational fishers?
Recfishwest supported the consideration of individual fishing effort limits as a primary measure for the recreational fishery following the outcomes of their direct consultation. You can find out more on Recfishwest’s advice to DPIRD on their website.
Although DPIRD does not consider this primary measure appropriate to implement at this time, the current recreational survey seeks community support to transition to an individual days fishing model in the medium term. This would involve each recreational fisher being allocated two fishing days each year (without closed seasons) to fish for demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion, without any limited recreational fishing seasons.
Individual fishing effort limits is consistent with the model used to manage the main commercial fisheries that access the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource to supply the WA community.
Why are tags proposed for the charter fishery and not for recreational fishers?
The use of tags by recreational fishers was not supported by Recfishwest following the outcomes of their direct consultation. You can find out more on Recfishwest’s advice to DPIRD on their website.
A tag system for charter operators provides flexibility for charter businesses to allow fishing for demersal scalefish under the tag system all year round and was supported by Marine Tourism WA through their direct consultation process.
Do the proposed changes apply just to the West Coast Bioregion or Statewide?
The primary and supporting measure proposals for the recreational, charter and commercial sectors only apply to the West Coast Bioregion.
In addition, the WA community are being asked to complete a separate Statewide recreational fishing survey for finfish arrangements outside of the West Coast Bioregion.
Primary proposals for commercial sector
When will statutory consultation occur with commercial licence holders?
DPIRD will consider the outcomes of this consultation process and finalise the management package for the commercial sector in consultation with WAFIC.
Final management packages will then be provided to the Minister for Fisheries for consideration and approval, followed by statutory consultation with effected licence holders on any proposed management plan amendments.
Why are commercial licence holders allowed to fish all year around when recreational fishers cannot?
The main commercial fishery operating in the West Coast Bioregion is the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery. This fishery is managed by limiting the total hours available (aka the “capacity” of the fishery). The primary measure proposed for the fishery is a reduction in this capacity. Fishers are able to use these limited hours at their discretion, to ensure market continuity and a fresh supply of seafood to the WA community year-round.
The recreational survey includes an option to manage recreational fishers under a similar system, with two days allocated to each recreational fisher per year (without any limited seasons).
Noting, the snapper and baldchin groper spawning closures apply to all commercial, charter and recreational fishers.
Supporting measure proposals
Aren’t size limits in place to protect fish and help recovery?
Size limits are the main reason demersal scalefish species are released and a significant volume of demersal scalefish such as pink snapper, dhufish and baldchin groper die after release, known as post-release mortality. These fish are not utilised or able to contribute to recovery and species with high or very-high post-release mortality rates do not contribute to egg potential of the stock. Removing the size limits and individual species bag limits is one tool to help reduce post release mortality.
Why are spawning closures not proposed for dhufish?
Targeted spawning closures benefit species that aggregate in some form and experience higher catchability at this time, than outside the spawning period. If catchability is the same throughout the year, then the timing of the closure does not matter, because fish have to survive the non-spawning period in order to be able to spawn.
A targeted spawning closure for dhufish is not proposed as there are currently no known large spawning aggregations of dhufish in the West Coast Bioregion.
Dhufish spawn from November to April, with a peak during December to March. The proposed 123-day limited recreational season option includes a closure over the peak spawning period for dhufish, which has the potential to provide additional recovery benefits for this species.
Future management - when and how?
- meet reduced recovery benchmarks - will be reviewed annually; and
- meet recovery milestones - will be reviewed every three years following a stock assessment (next assessment due 2023).
When will any new management changes come into effect?
Management changes are expected to be implemented over the summer of 2022/23.
How long will any management changes last for? When will they be reviewed?
Management changes will be introduced to allow recovery of the resource by 2030. The success of new arrangements to:
For more information on review processes, take a look at the harvest strategy.
How is DPIRD going to monitor the total catch of demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion?
Consistent with the harvest strategy, management arrangements need to ensure that catches by both the commercial and recreational sectors are maintained below revised total catch limits to allow the resource to recover by 2030.
An annual monitoring framework is already in place for the commercial sector and charter operators, with fishers required to complete daily/trip logbook reports.
Recreational catches are currently monitored through iSurvey, which occurs every three years. An additional monitoring system is proposed to ensure recreational catches of demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion can be estimated on an annual basis.
Science, harvest strategy and recovery plan
Where can I find out more about the 2021 stock assessment, the harvest strategy and recovery plan for the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR)?
More information on the science can be found on the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD) website at www.fish.wa.gov.au/demersal.
Statewide recreational fishing survey
What is the Statewide recreational fishing survey?
The WA community are being asked to complete a separate recreational fishing survey for finfish arrangements outside of the West Coast Bioregion, via www.yoursay.dpird.wa.gov.au.
The outcomes of this survey will provide DPIRD with additional information on how fishers view current bag, boat, size and possession limits for all demersal scalefish and large finfish outside of the West Coast Bioregion.
What about the 12-month review of the recreational possession limit changes introduced last year?
The State-wide recreational finfish survey will also provide recreational fishers with the opportunity to comment on the finfish possession limits.
Other questions - commercial, depredation, species, RFBL
- In 2014/15, entitlements were reduced in a number of commercial fisheries to decrease their catches of pink snapper and other demersal scalefish below recovery benchmarks.
- There has been limited recovery in the Mid-West and Kalbarri areas, making it harder to catch demersal scalefish viably in these areas.
Does the commercial West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery export all their catches overseas?
No. The West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery does not have Commonwealth approval to export product overseas. This fishery is an important source of fresh, local seafood to the WA community, with approximately 600,000 meals supplied annually.
Why has the commercial sector’s catch decreased in recent years?
There are a number of reasons why the commercial catch is below lower thresholds:
What can be done to reduce shark depredation impacting on demersal scalefish?
A DPIRD project studying shark depredation and ways it can be reduced took place during 2020/21. Information on shark bite-offs and ways to minimise shark bite-offs can be found in our shark depredation fact sheet.
Are there species that have better numbers, that are still good eating and ok to catch?
There are plenty of other species of fish that you can target and are great eating, including mackerels, shark, herring and western rock lobster.
Am I going to get a refund on my Recreational Fishing from a Boat Licence?
No, the Recreational Fishing from a Boat Licence allows fishers to conduct a number of statewide boat-based fishing experiences and is not limited to fishing for demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion.
There are still opportunities to target other species outside of the limited season for demersal scalefish.