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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 8 December 2017

Safe behaviours highlighted as WA's annual abalone fishing season kicks off this weekend

​Western Australia’s popular abalone fishing season kicks off this Saturday 9th December with thousands of fishers expected to descend upon popular fishing spots along the metropolitan coast.

An inherently dangerous activity, last season Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) services rescued 49 individuals from life threatening incidents, removed 991 from hazardous situations and provided first aid to a further 10 across the world’s shortest licensed recreational fishing period, and the call from all agencies involved is for fishers to put personal safety first.

With the recent launch of their Drone Patrols, SLSWA will be deploying this aerial surveillance tool at select locations during the designated fishing periods.

General Manager Chris Peck said the use of Drone Patrol is to enhance surf lifesavers situational awareness of individuals in danger; however he went on to  warn that the presence of surf lifesavers alone will not keep all abalone fishers safe.

“While a number of changes have been implemented in the past year with the aim of increasing the safety of fishers and reducing risk to surf lifesavers,  the onus is still on individuals to take responsibility for their behaviours and not rely solely on these new measures for their personal safety,” said Mr Peck.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland followed Mr. Peck’s calls for fishers to take personal responsibility for their actions while fishing for Abalone.

“Fishing for Abalone is iconic here in WA and people really value the opportunity to catch their own fresh seafood on the doorstep of Perth, but fishers need to look after themselves and make their own decision whether to get in the water to fish or not,” Dr Rowland said.

“Having safety considerations inform management changes is a real step forward in ensuring everyone return’s home safe after a day’s fishing.”

These messages were further backed by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Fisheries Management Officer Shane Walters as they called for recreational fishers to consider their personal safety at all times.

“Fishing will take place for one hour between 7am and 8am tomorrow and people taking part in the first day of the new West Coast Zone season also need to stick to bag and size limits,” said Mr Walters.

SLSWA have recently launched an abalone fishing safety campaign encouraging fishers to not only adopt appropriate behaviours for their safety, but also to improve their chance of a good catch during the limited season.

“Wearing appropriate gear such as a long sleeve wetsuit and reef shoes will not only keep you warm and make the experience more enjoyable, they will also protect you from the reef should you be knocked off your feet,” said Mr. Peck.

Mr Peck went on to say that while many of these behaviours were common sense, they were continuing to see far too many people risking their lives in pursuit of the delicacy.

“Four deaths since 2012 and for such a short fishing period is far too many for a recreational fishing activity such as this,” he said.

More details on SLSWA’s Abalone safety campaign can be found at

SLSWA acknowledges the vital support of the State Government in providing helicopter, beach patrols, Jetski and drone patrol services.

Last modified: 8/12/2017 12:33 PM

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