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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Tuesday 3 January 2023

Fisher caught with 127 abalone from no-go zone

Abalone fishing in Western Australian waters north of the Moore River mouth and through to the Northern Territory border has been closed since 2011, when stocks were decimated by a marine heatwave.

The closure of abalone fishing along this part of the coast is in place so that abalone stock can recover to a sustainable level. 

Those unusually high sea temperatures during the marine heatwave event caused significant mortality of abalone stocks particularly in the Midwest region.

On the Friday before Christmas (23 December) at 6.30 in the morning, Compliance officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) observed a man fishing on an exposed reef platform south of Cape Burney during low tide.

The officers apprehended the 53-year-old man from suburban Geraldton after they stopped him and searched a backpack in his possession. They found 127 Roe’s abalone and a screwdriver.

Their investigation is continuing with a view to prosecution.

A DPIRD Compliance officer undertaking surveillance in the Midwest

DPIRD’s Regional Compliance Director for the Midwest Mick Kelly said officers have a big beat to cover in the region and ensuring that abalone are not taken would remain very important for the long-term recovery of the Roe’s abalone fishery north of Moore River.  

“We know from past cases of people fishing for abalone in the closed area that fines, and penalties can be significant”, Mr Kelly said.

Abalone can be fished daily, from 1 October through to 15 May the following year, along WA’s Southern Zone coastline between the South Australian border and Busselton.

North of Busselton and as far as Moore River, abalone fishing is limited to four designated one-hour windows each summer. The first session of the 2022/23 season was held last month on 10 December. The next West Coast Zone 7am-8am fishing hours have been set aside for 14 January, 4 February and 18 February in 2023 subject to safe ocean conditions.

Details on the abalone fishing rules, season and closed fishing areas are available in the Abalone recreational fishing guide 2022/23.  

If you see something you suspect may be illegal fishing activity, please report your concerns to FishWatch 1800 815 507, or tells us about what you’ve seen in the online form on Crimestoppers​.  

Last modified: 3/01/2023 2:24 PM

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