A number of species that occur in Western Australian waters are totally protected under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 and may not be taken by either commercial, charter or recreational fishers.
This protection helps to ensure the biodiversity of our oceans and waterways for generations to come.
Killing, injuring or fishing for a protected species is not permitted and can result in fines of up to $5,000.
If protected species are caught accidentally they must be returned to the water immediately. See our catch care tips for how to safely release fish back into the water.
Some examples of ‘totally protected fish’ in Western Australia include:
The Fish Resources Management Act 1994 also provides for species to be listed as ‘commercially protected fish’ and ‘recreationally protected fish’.
All totally protected, commercially protected and recreationally protected fish are listed under the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995.
Some marine species including fish, whales, dolphins, sea lions and turtles may also be protected under Commonwealth legislation and other State legislation.
Examples of this protection in action are detailed below.
Sea lion exclusion devices
Australian sea lions are listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and ‘specially protected’ under the State Wildlife Conservation Act 1950.
Sea lion pups are at risk of becoming trapped in rock lobster pots.
To resolve this problem, we have consulted with the commercial fishing industry to develop a Sea Lion Exclusion Device (SLED) which fits in rock lobster pots. The highly-effective device does not reduce the catch of legal size rock lobsters, however, it does prevent sea lions from entering and becoming trapped.
Under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994, SLEDs must now be fitted in all rock lobster pots (commercial and recreational) used in the identified SLED zones.
The unusual looking sawfish family are a type of ray and derive their name from their long snouts lined with sharp points.
The life cycles of sawfish, including slow rates of growth and low numbers of offspring, mean their stocks are easily threatened.
Sawfish species that inhabit estuaries or rivers are particularly vulnerable because their reproductive and survival strategies are closely related to these environments, and any changes to water quality, habitat availability etc. can greatly affect them.
Sawfish are also at risk of being unintentionally caught by fishers.
Overfishing and habitat change have caused major declines in sawfish stocks globally. Northern Australia is one of the very few places in the world where they may not be in immediate danger of extinction.
To ensure their survival and long-term sustainability, all species of sawfish are totally protected under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994.