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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Demersal fish like WA dhufish (pictured) are vulnerable to overfishing because they are long-lived and slow growing.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

West Coast demersal closure plea

We are urging recreational fishers to support the West Coast demersal scalefish closure to help with the ongoing stock recovery of these highly prized, popular species.

The seasonal closure to recreational fishing for West Coast demersal finfish is one of several management measures put in place seven years ago to recover stocks of demersal species like dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper.

Measures were introduced to both the recreational and commercial sectors to reduce the catch of demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion (Kalbarri to Augusta) by at least 50 per cent, as part of a long-term recovery plan for demersal scalefish stocks.

Given dhufish live up to 40 years, the recovery may take 20 years before these older fish are seen in sustainable numbers.

So, by not fishing for these species during the closure, and immediately returning any you do happen to catch, you can help ensure there will be more demersal scalefish for the future.

And there are plenty of other fishing options at this time of year – many recreational fishers choose to fish for pelagic species such as Samson fish and nearshore/estuarine species such as King George whiting during the closure, or focus their fishing effort on rock lobster.  

The introduction of the seasonal closure followed independently-reviewed research that showed demersal finfish species – those living on or near the ocean floor usually in depths of more than 20 metres – were being overfished in this bioregion.

This is why the take or landing of demersal finfish is prohibited in the West Coast Bioregion from 15 October to 15 December (inclusive).

The closure covers all demersal finfish species, including bottom-dwelling fish on the continental shelf such as dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper, cods, emperors and seabream and tropical snappers and seaperch, as well as off-the-shelf species such as hapuku, grey banded cod and ruby snapper

For a comprehensive list of demersal scalefish species, refer to our recreational fishing guide or our online recreational fishing rules.

In addition to the overall management target, additional goals of reducing catches by at least 50 per cent of the 2005/06 catch are set for each indicator species – dhufish, pink snapper and baldchin groper – whose stock status are used to indicate that of all demersal species in the bioregion.

Monitoring these indicator species helps us to understand if the significant management changes put in place are allowing stocks to recover.

For more information see our online recreational fishing rules, or download our recreational fishing guide in booklet size or the A4 print-friendly version.

Last modified: 7/11/2017 3:58 PM

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