At a time when many global fish resources are being exploited, Western Australia’s outstanding management systems are working to ensure all our fisheries are ecologically sustainable.
Apart from the economic and social value to our State of having healthy fish stocks for the future, key global seafood markets are increasingly demanding that fish is sourced from well-managed fisheries. Managing Western Australia’s commercial fisheries to the highest standards is therefore vital to the long-term viability of our fishing industry.
Many of our State’s commercial fisheries are now either fully managed or under some form of limited management.
Our fisheries are managed through a series of legislated plans, regulations, orders and licence conditions. These are developed in conjunction with industry, peak bodies, associations and community groups.
Communications are managed through meetings and notices.
A Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is used in many of Western Australia's major commercial fisheries. It allows us to carry out real-time monitoring of commercial fishing fleets to ensure fishers are operating in designated fishing areas and/or within their entitlement allocation.
An Automatic Location Communicator (ALC) must be fitted to any vessel operating within a fishery requiring a link to the VMS. The ALC tracks the location of a boat by transmitting information such as the geographical position, course and speed of the boat via satellite to VMS officers at our Marine Operations Centre in Fremantle. Position reports are also used to monitor information relating to entitlements.
Data from the VMS is used to:
- monitor entitlements;
- monitor fishing zones;
- monitor area and seasonal closures;
- detect incidents;
- provide intelligence and evidence for investigations;
- inform research and management of the fisheries; and
- provide assistance to safety and rescue organisations.
For the fisheries where an ALC is in use we gazette approved directions for the installation, use, servicing and testing of approved ALCs. Further information is also available for existing ALC users and for prospective users.
Current managed fisheries
Western Australia has a number of commercial managed fisheries.
In terms of value, western rock lobster is the most significant seafood in Western Australia.
Rock lobster managed fisheries
In Western Australia there are three rock lobster managed fisheries:
- West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery;
- Esperance Rock Lobster Managed Fishery;
- The Windy Harbour-Augusta Rock Lobster Managed Fishery.
Eight species of rock lobster are found off the coast of Western Australia. However, virtually everything caught is the western rock lobster (Panulirus cygnus), found up to 60 km off the coast between Augusta and Shark Bay.
The western rock lobster is one of the most valuable single-species in Australia.
The West Coast Rock Lobster Managed Fishery was the first fishery in the world to be certified as ecologically sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2000. It is now the first fishery in the world to be certified as sustainable for a third time.
Western rock lobster fishery data has been kept since the early 1960s. This comprehensive information enables fisheries scientists to predict catches accurately and fisheries managers to ensure controls are adequate to protect breeding stocks and the sustainability of the fishery.
Continuing and extensive consultation, in addition to a long-term science program, has resulted in western rock lobster being one of the best managed fisheries in the world.