Many people may be surprised to learn that the sustainability of our fisheries is supported by the work of volunteers – ordinary West Australians giving their time to take part in project-based research and community education activities.
Volunteers provide a link between us and the community. They enjoy being involved with a range of projects that support our community mission of ‘fish for the future’. The projects vary by region and duration, based on the needs of fisheries management and the local community. Where required, all necessary training will be provided.
Our recreational fishing research activities come under the umbrella of the Research Angler Program. As well as having the opportunity to assist in specific projects, volunteers can make a valuable contribution to science in a number of different ways by just going fishing and recording what they catch in a logbook.
We started using volunteers formally in 1991 with the introduction of our Volunteer Fisheries Liaison Officer program. This required a major time commitment from those who joined. Since then, volunteering has moved to being project-based, to make it easier for more people to take part. When we need volunteers for specific projects, opportunities will be listed on this web page.
Research Angler Program (RAP)
Volunteers make an essential contribution to the research work of our scientists. WA’s huge coastline and inland waterway systems makes studying aquatic life and habitats a real challenge. Our researchers can only gather all of the data they need with the help of recreational anglers and local communities around the State.
Our research volunteers come from many social and ethnic backgrounds, and all share a passion for conserving Western Australia’s aquatic environment, fish and their habitats. If you would like to make a difference to WA’s future, we’d love to have you on board. You don’t need any scientific training to become a member of the Research Angler Program (RAP), just enthusiasm.
The information you provide as a research angler will help our scientists understand marine and aquatic life – trends and fluctuations in the abundance of species, their health, size, rates of growth, age of maturity and many other factors that can help establish whether species or habitats are under pressure and whether current management arrangements are adequate.
You can stay in touch with RAP through their regular newsletters, which include research results, information about fish species, news of new research projects and special events. Many projects also offer rewards and prizes.
Current RAP projects are:
For further information about the Research Angler Program:
T: 9203 0111
E: : Kim.Smith@fish.wa.gov.au
More information is also available in this brochure.
Anglers’ log book
You will be supplied with a log book and asked to record the details of your catches - species, number, length and health. The information is used to help monitor fish abundance and diversity, disease outbreaks and the presence of exotic or rare species - all useful indicators of the health of fish stocks and of environmental conditions. The log book can be used during all your fishing activities – ocean, estuary and freshwater.
Once you’ve signed up you’ll receive your log book plus up-to-date recreational fishing guides appropriate to your area, a fish rule sticker and a stack of reply-paid envelopes for returning the data (so it costs nothing to be involved). The details you provide will give a picture of the health of your fishery and are provided to scientists working on a number of research initiatives.
You will be kept up to date with research progress through the regular RAP newsletter.
At various times, researchers tag and release fish to better understand their population structure, movement, growth and mortality. Volunteers are needed to assist with reporting recaptures of tagged fish.
The Department of Fisheries is currently tagging Australian herring in the State’s metropolitan, south-west and mid-west areas. This project aims to learn more about the movement, abundance and mortality rate of this popular recreational fishing species in the West Coast Bioregion (Augusta to Kalbarri).
Cash rewards from $5 to $100 are being offered for the capture and return of tagged herring. The herring have an orange tag in their flank under their dorsal fin. The tag has a unique number and a phone number to report the details of the fish’s capture. If you catch a tagged herring, telephone the number on the tag (0459 846772) giving the details of capture and the unique number on the tag. Outside office hours leave your number and you will be called back.
To claim your cash reward, take the fish, or the fish frame (filleted skeleton with the guts and head still intact) and the tag to our offices at Bunbury, Busselton, Fremantle, Geraldton, Hillarys or Mandurah.
Send us your skeletons
You can pay a key part in our fishing research and long-term monitoring by donating the unwanted skeletons (‘frames’) of some of the species you catch.
We can analyse the data from the filleted skeletons to help us assess the status of our fisheries and to ensure there will be fish for the future.
You can hand your fish frames (fresh or frozen) in to a number of the drop-off points. We need the heads and guts, but you can keep the fish’s wings (pectoral fins) and cheeks – these are not required for research.
Our Send us your skeletons section has more information on this program, including the species we are targeting and where you can drop-off your frames.
Become a True Blue Swimmer Supporter
As a recreational blue swimmer crab fisher, you can assist with our research into this popular species and help ensure there are plenty of ‘blueys’ for future generations to catch.
You can help by providing us with details of your crab catches, including size, number and location of crabs caught as part of our True Blue Swimmer Supporter initiative.
As one of the State’s most commonly caught species by recreational fishers, close monitoring of blue swimmer stocks is essential to ensure their long-term sustainability.
The catch data you provide will enable us to make informed, effective management decisions and ensure there are blue swimmer crabs for the future.
The initiative, funded by fishing licence fees through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, is focused on three important fishing areas:
Leschenault Inlet, and
We need at least 50 crab fishers who crab regularly from each of the fishing areas listed above, for a minimum total of 150 volunteers. For the three-year project, we are asking volunteers to start filling in their logbooks from 1 June, 2013, to coincide with this year’s winter crabbing season in Geographe Bay. In addition, some True Blue Swimmer Supporters will be asked to assist in a crab tagging trial.
For more information please read the program flyer and our crab factsheet.
To sign up, or for any further information, contact our crab research team:
T: 9203 0252
Catch cards are a record of your catch on a fishing trip. Our researchers use catch card data to indicate local fish numbers and measure the amount of species and monitor changes in the health of local fish stocks. All completed cards go into a draw to win a prize.
If you are running a fishing tournament or competition, contact us at least eight weeks before your event and we can send you catch cards that can be completed by the participants. These events usually involve a lot of people all fishing in the same area at the same time, which can provide our researchers with a ‘snapshot’ survey of local fish stocks – everyone’s a winner.
Busselton Jetty catch cards
You can make an important contribution to science every time you go fishing at the Busselton Jetty by simply filling in a catch card. The cards are free and available all year round from the Busselton Jetty Interpretative Centre or from our Busselton office. Return your completed card to the Interpretative Centre.
At this popular fishing location, catch card data can help researchers monitor seasonal and annual changes - contributing to a better understanding of how factors such as climate change, coastal development and fishing pressure are affecting our local fish stocks.
Tailor recruitment annual survey
If you are a recreational fisher who regularly targets tailor in any region of Western Australia, we would welcome your assistance for our tailor catch and release survey, which takes place every year from February to April. We will provide training to enable you to catch, tag and release tailor yourself as part of your usual fishing activities and offer ongoing support. The data collected helps researchers forecast the population of adult tailor in future years.
Fishing club historic records survey
Catch records from fishing clubs can provide our researchers with an insight into the history of local fish populations. If you manage your clubs catch data, or have inherited log books along the way, we would like to hear from you. We enter these records into our database then return the original data to the club or individual. As a bonus for your contribution, we will also supply you with both an electronic and hard copy of your logbook data.
Sometimes we need volunteers to help educate the community about our ‘fish for the future’ principles or to help with a specific educational need. Volunteers may be required to assist our Community and Education staff with special events or school education activities. It is likely those involved in these projects will need a current Working with Children Check card and agree to a National Police Check
No formal qualifications are required to take part in our community education projects, however ideally you should:
be committed to our ‘fish for the future’ sustainability ethos;
be a good communicator;
work well in a team environment;
pay attention to detail;
have sufficient time to commit to a specific project;
be willing to undertake training; and
have access to your own or public transport that can get you to the place where the project is taking place.
The activities that community volunteers take part in are purely educational and do not have any involvement with fisheries compliance (‘policing’). Remember, if you do see any illegal or suspicious fishing activity your best course of action is to report the situation to FishWatch on 1800 815 507 or contact your local Department of Fisheries Office.
Unfortunately, we are currently unable to offer more formal work experience opportunities with our Community and Education section.
Current projects – recruiting now
Sorry, there are no opportunities at this time. Please check back later.
For further information about volunteering: