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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Monday 1 April 2019

Abalone safety initiatives are helping to make fishing days safer

    • ​McGowan Government safety changes showing promising results
    • Lifesaving resources aimed at safe fishing on Saturdays over summer are working
    • Volunteers and fishers thanked for making the fishery safer and sustainable

Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has praised Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA), volunteers and recfishers for their work in helping to deliver safer outcomes in the abalone fishery over the past two years.

After coming to Government in 2017 and following a number of tragic deaths, the McGowan Government moved to improve fishing safety for this unique Western Australian recreational fishery. Five people have tragically lost their lives abalone fishing since 2012.

New safety measures included:

    • Moving fishing days from Sunday to Saturday to better reflect the availability of SLSWA resources to monitor fishers;
    • Moving the season to summer; and
    • Fishing days can be cancelled and rescheduled, if required, when fishing is unsafe.

Rescues are down from an average of 108 in the three years before changes were introduced to an average of nine for the past two years. Similarly, people requiring first aid has dropped from an average of 190 to nine, and preventative actions have dropped from an average of 1,117 to 118. There were no fatalities in the 2018-19 season.

SLSWA volunteers carry out beach-based patrols as well as jet ski, vessel, drone and helicopter patrols to help keep fishers safe on fishing days. SLSWA and Recfishwest have also run intensive safety education campaigns in the past two years.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development continues to meet with SLSWA and Recfishwest to review each season and consider further improvements.

Fishers caught almost 20 tonnes of abalone in the 2018-19 season, which was within the sustainable target of 18 to 22 tonnes.

Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:

"I thank all the volunteer surf lifesavers who kept an eye on the abalone fishers during the season and the fishers themselves for listening to the safety messages.

"The results of the last two years, since our changes came into effect, show safety changes appear to be having a positive impact.

"This year was the first time DPIRD rescheduled a fishing day due to advice from SLSWA that predictive conditions were not safe enough to proceed.

"While for some this was frustrating, safety is the number one priority. After all, it's not worth risking your life for an abalone.

"I'd also like to thank the Fisheries research volunteers who gave up some early hours during the season to help the department's scientists to closely monitor the sustainability of this popular fishery."

Minister's office - 6552 6100

Last modified: 15/04/2019 10:04 AM

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