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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Thursday 19 December 2019

New research on the recovery of West Coast demersal scalefish

​The latest West Coast Bioregion demersal scalefish science, now available online at, shows these keenly sought-after species are showing some early signs of recovery, but there is still a way to go before stocks are fully recovered.

This assessment, by Fisheries scientists from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), comes at the halfway point in the 20-year recovery plan to ensure the sustainability of highly-valued demersal species, such a dhufish and pink snapper

The annual two-month seasonal closure for West Coast demersal scalefish, which ended on Sunday 15 December, was part of a suite of measures introduced between 2008 and 2010 to reduce catches by all sectors to below 50 per cent of 2005/06 levels.

More recently, the McGowan Government took additional management action to enhance protection for breeding pink snapper in Cockburn Sound and surrounding waters – a measure that has been embraced by the recreational fishing sector.

DPIRD Fisheries Management Officer Shane Walters said the trend in recovery, noted in the latest research summary, has been driven by the Metropolitan and South-West areas with limited recovery in the Mid-West and Kalbarri areas, particularly for dhufish.

“There continues to be very few older dhufish and pink snapper in the population and a limited number of good years of recruitment are supporting catches in the fishery,” Mr Walters said.

“Importantly, while total catch by all sectors is currently below 50 per cent of 2005/06 levels, recreational catches of dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper are trending upwards.

“The next major stock assessment is due for completion late next year (2020) and will provide an opportunity to evaluate whether the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource is recovering at an acceptable rate.

“DPIRD is proposing establishment of a working group of key stakeholders in 2020, to develop a Harvest Strategy Recovery Plan. That plan will guide management of the West Coast demersal scalefish resource, in order to achieve the required recovery by 2030.”

An update on the latest West Coast demersal scalefish research by DPIRD’s Fisheries scientists is now available online at, along with rules on a species by species or location basis, and the latest Recreational fishing guide.

The fishing rules are also available on the Recfishwest app and please note the annual Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds pink snapper closure runs up to and including 31 January.

The Abrolhos Islands baldchin groper closure is also still in place to protect spawning aggregations there and, like Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds, will not reopen to fishing until 1 February.

Last modified: 19/12/2019 2:12 PM

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