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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

​WA's own baldchin groper

Thursday 12 December 2013

Early signs of recovery in stocks of key demersal species

​An extensive assessment of three of Western Australia’s key demersal scalefish species has demonstrated that recovery of these stocks has begun, confirming that current Department of Fisheries’ management arrangements are working.

The stock assessment of the key indicator species (West Australian dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper) focussed on the West Coast Bioregion, where a suite of recreational and commercial fishing management measures were introduced between 2008 and 2010.

Those management measures were designed to reduce both sectors catches by at least 50 per cent on 2005/06 levels, to reduce pressure on stocks and allow them to rebuild. Action was required following a 2007 stock assessment, which had identified there was overfishing of demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion.

Strategic Fisheries Policy Manager Nathan Harrison said the latest assessment allowed the department to gauge how appropriate the current management settings had been in facilitating the recovery of these important demersal species.
 
“These are long-lived species and their recovery will therefore be slow, taking up to 15 to 20 years,” Mr Harrison said. “The good news is there are signs that recovery is underway for WA dhufish and pink snapper, but it is early days and we still have a long way to go.

“WAFIC and Recfishwest have been briefed on the findings and the department will continue to work with these groups on future management needs. We thank fishers from both sectors for their good stewardship and compliance with the management strategy.”

Mr Harrison said it was important to keep monitoring the key demersal species, to ensure the recovery trajectory could continue at an appropriate rate. 

“In addition to periodic stock assessments, we monitor commercial and recreational catches on an ongoing basis to track whether each sector is meeting the management objective to maintain their catches below 50 per cent of 2005/06 levels,” he said.

“This is vital, given the long term nature of the recovery plan and the ongoing efforts being made by the fishers themselves to help rebuild the stocks of these fantastic fish.

“We must be proactive to ensure the State’s important endemic species, like dhufish and baldchin groper and other demersals are around for years to come on the West Coast.”

The full stock assessment report will be published in the near future. A key findings document is now available on the Department’s website at www.fish.wa.gov.au.

Recreational fishers in the West Coast Bioregion will be able to go demersal fishing again from Monday 16 December, following the annual two-month seasonal closure. Please note that up to and including 31 January; localised closures still apply to pink snapper in Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and for baldchin groper at the Abrolhos Islands.

Last modified: 13/12/2013 7:19 AM

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