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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries
Friday 1 April 2022

Australian herring recovery update

Australian herring assessment 2021

The Department’s latest stock assessment for Australian herring, which has just been released, indicates recovery of the herring stock. This highlights the importance and success of the management action taken by the Department in 2015 to address the depleted herring stock.

In 2013, an independently reviewed Fisheries stock assessment showed that due to a combination of environmental factors and fishing pressure the Australian herring stock was inadequate and total catches needed to be reduced by a minimum of 50% to allow it to recover.  

Following extensive consultation with the commercial and recreational fishing sectors on 1 March 2015 the Department introduced changes to halve the total herring catch for both sectors. This involved reducing the daily recreational bag limit for herring from 30 to 12 and closing the main commercial herring Fishery at that time: the South Coast G-net Fishery.

Recovery would not have been possible without the commitment of WA’s commercial and recreational fishers to support these measures.

The peak sector bodies - the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council and Recfishwest - also played a critical role by helping their members to understand and accept that sustainability of the herring resource would not be possible without the catch reductions.

The recovery demonstrates the importance of adaptive fisheries management informed by good science - sometimes resulting in short-term impacts on fishing sectors, but in the long-term leading to greater benefits. In this case, the benefits are the ability to continue to recreationally fish for herring, and an ongoing supply of sustainably and locally caught herring on our tables.

We now have an opportunity to take a new approach to herring management - consistent with DPIRD’s approach to sustainable fisheries management that is internationally recognised as best practice.

By continuing to work together, the recreational and commercial sectors can ensure future management of this important finfish species will protect quality recreational fishing experiences and help build human consumption markets for Australian herring, which is a WA Government priority.

Given the recent recovery of the resource, any catch increases will be gradual, so the impact on stock levels can be appropriately monitored and managed.

After three years of increased catch, an interim review will be undertaken to ensure the risk remains at an acceptable, sustainable level, ahead of the next full stock assessment due at the end of 2026.

Refer to the media statement for further information.

Detailed information on the weight of evidence stock assessment is available in Fisheries Research Report No. 319​.

Short-term G-net fishing exemption for 2022

The first step in increasing herring catches has been a short-term exemption approved in March 2022, to allow G-net fishing for Australian herring to re-open on the south coast.

This will allow G-trap fishers to take up to 70 tonnes of herring through to 30 June this year, with G-netting restricted to Cheynes Beach, Bettys Beach and Triglow Beach.

This initial catch limit is well below herring’s potential sustainable catch, and is subject to a significant portion of herring being sold for human consumption.

This is a limited short-term trial to determine consumer demand for herring – both fresh and value-added using local seafood processors – and if this will lead to more jobs along the south coast.  

DPIRD will monitor the G-net fishers on a weekly basis to ensure the conditions of the exemption are being adhered to. DPIRD will also ensure fishers are working with our science and assessment team to maintain research in this area, to determine the impact of fishing on stock levels.

Refer to the media statement for further information.

Any management changes will be made gradually so the impact on stock levels can be tested, and ensure sustainability of Australian herring for generations to come.


Last modified: 1/04/2022 11:54 AM

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