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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
  ​Know the rules when you fish
Wednesday 24 November 2021

Lobster pot rope requirements will now be consistent for all fishers

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has been working with Recfishwest, to improve Western Australia’s recreational rock lobster fishing experiences.  

It means the previously all-round year requirement, under the Recreational Rock Lobster Whale Mitigation rules, for weighted rope​, will no longer be mandatory during the peak recreational rock lobster fishing months from November to March.

This new arrangement will align with whale migration patterns and whale mitigation measures that apply to commercial rock lobster fishers. Dropping these requirements in the summer months will also enable easier retrieval of lost gear and potentially less lost pots in the water.

Graeme Baudains, DPIRD’s Principal Management Officer said the department and Recfishwest jointly conducted a review earlier this year. 

“For simplicity, the initial whale mitigation arrangements that came into force in 2018, with the year-round requirement for the top half of the pot rope to be held vertically in the water column by using weights when using more than 20 metres of rope” Mr Baudains said. 

“This successfully reduced the risk of whale entanglements in ropes and floats during the winter months, but recreational fishers were reporting concerns over the summer months when boat strikes on floats made it very difficult to retrieve weighted ropes and their pots.  

“With the help of Recfishwest’s rock lobster reference group we’ve found a balance that will continue to protect whales during their peak migration periods, simplify fishing rules during the popular warmer fishing months and reduce the amount of lost fishing gear.   

“Recreational fishers can continue to use their weighted rope during this period, as many fishers prefer to minimise rope on the surface, as a way of minimising boat strike."  

Recfishwest Chief Executive Officer, Dr Andrew Rowland has welcomed the new balance. 

“We are pleased the department and the Minister for Fisheries have listened to our community and responded with simple and sensible rules in time for the much anticipated ‘whites run’ this year’’ Dr Rowland said.

“This regulation change was recommended by Recfishwest’s rock lobster reference group and will bring recreational fishers in line with the commercial fishing sector. The new rule will ensure migrating whales are protected, lost gear is easier to retrieve, and recreational fishing rules are simplified.”

"We welcome these changes, as will most of WA’s 50,000 licensed recreational cray fishers. These changes are a win for whales and a win for recreational fishers who will continue to play their part in helping protect whales during peak migration season.”

Senior DPIRD western rock lobster scientist Simon DeLestang has confirmed the overall biomass of lobsters has continued to increase and there is now even more lobster to catch.
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Last modified: 24/11/2021 9:56 AM

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