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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource


The West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource (WCDSR) includes over 100 species in inshore (20-250 m deep) and offshore (>250 m) demersal habitats of the West Coast Bioregion (WCB). These species are primarily caught by boat-based commercial, recreational and charter line fishers.

The WCDSR is in recovery and managed under a 20-year recovery plan (2010-2030; see Harvest Strategy FAQs). DPIRD tracks recovery progress by undertaking weight of evidence stock assessments of the indicator species (pink snapper, WA dhufish and baldchin groper) every 3 years.

The 2021 WCDSR stock assessment indicated stock declines had halted but the sustainability risk to WA dhufish and snapper remained high and severe, respectively, with unacceptable recovery rates and further catch reductions required. 

In December 2022, the Minister for Fisheries announced recreational (including charter) and commercial sector management packages and a recovery support package to boost the recovery of the WCDSR. These management packages were implemented in 2023 and are designed to reduce total catch (incl. post release mortality) to a recovery benchmark of 375 tonnes, find out more in the FAQs.

In February 2024, the Minister for Fisheries announced temporary changes to the recovery benchmark arrangements following a $4.1 million buyout of entitlement in the commercial West Coast Demersal (Interim) Managed Fishery. The new arrangements for recreational (including charter) sector will be subject to review once the resource has recovered. 

Under revised arrangements the 375 tonne recovery benchmark is split between: 

  • Recreational (including charter) sector: 
    • ​Recreational fishery: 125 tonnes (was 115 tonnes)
    • ​Charter fishery: 30 tonnes (was 20 tonnes)
  • Commercial sector: 
    • ​West Coast Demersal (Interim) Managed Fishery: 180 tonnes (was 218.6 tonnes)
    • ​​Other commercial fisheries that mostly target other species: 40 tonnes (was 21.5 tonnes). 

Recreational fishery

The primary management arrangement in place to reduce the recreational fishery to a recovery benchmark of 125 tonnes is closed seasons. These are designed to reduce fishing effort (time on the water) and reduce total catch.

During the closed seasons, fishers cannot fish for, possess on a boat, or land demersal scalefish in the WCB. The closed seasons dates are:
​Year Date​s prohibited catching demersal scalefish from a boat​: ​
​2024 1 February to 28 March 2024 (inclusive)​. ​1 August to 15 September 2024 (inclusive). ​​15 Octo​ber to 15 December 2024 (inclusive).
The closed seasons do not apply to land based recreational line fishers, who can fish all year round.

A number of supporting measures are also in place when fishing for demersal scalefish in the WCB to reduce the need to release fish and maximise fishing experience while out on the water, these include:

It is important to understand the current recreational fishing rules​​ when recreational fishing for demersal scalefish in the WCB. 

Rec fishers are able to directly contribute to the science and support the recovery of WA’s iconic demersal scalefish stocks in the WCB, using the FishCatchWA™ tool on the ServiceWA app. Find out more on the FishCatchWA™ page.

Charter fishery

The primary management arrangement in place to reduce the charter fishery to a recovery benchmark of 30 tonnes is a demersal scalefish tag “quota” system. The catch quota system limits the total number of fish that can be landed and allows charter operators to run tours all year round (outside of spawning closures).

In the 2023-24 season, under the catch quota system, 7,500 tags were allocated to 33 operators in the West Coast Zone based on operator’s catch history over the past 5 years. For more information about how catch quota is allocated, please view the Statement of Determination for 2023/24 and operational guidelines and FAQs​.

Charter operators without tags in the WCB can still catch demersal fish to provide a meal to clients on board, as long as all fish are consumed on the boat before returning to shore.

The charter fishery also has the same supporting measures as the recreational fishery, except for the demersal scalefish effort closure and boat limit. 

Charter Diversification Grants Scheme

To support the implementation of the catch quota system, eligible charter operators are able to apply for funding to diversify their business into other tourism experiences e.g. non-demersal scalefish aquatic tours. The West Coast Charter Diversification Grants Scheme opened 1 June 2023 and will close on 30 June 2024. 

Western Australias Seafood Industry support services​

Commercial fisheries

The main commercial fishery targeting demersal scalefish in the WCB is the West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery (commercial wetline fishery). The primary management arrangements in place to reduce the commercial wetline fishery to a recovery benchmark of 180 tonnes are: 
  • A reduction in fishing hours to achieve a 50% cut in total allowable catch; and 
  • A voluntary buyout of 22% of units of entitlement across the WCDSIMF.

There are several other commercial fisheries that target other fisheries resources (including shark, rock lobster, octopus, squid, and scallop) but catch demersal scalefish as byproduct. They are managed to a combined recovery benchmark of 40 tonnes and have a limited amount of available time/gear or catch quota.

Supporting measures in place for the commercial sector include: 
  • No size limits for WA dhufish, baldchin groper and breaksea cod to reduce barotrauma.
  • ​Commercial fishing closure for demersal scalefish along the Perth metro coast, from Lancelin to south of Mandurah.

Spawning closures

Targeted spawning closures are in place for pink snapper and baldchin groper in the WCB:
  • Abrolhos Islands baldchin groper spawning closure: 1 October to 31 December (inclusive).
  • Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds pink snapper spawning closure: 1 August to 31 January (inclusive). Video: spawning protection​.

Spawning closures apply to all recreational (including shore based), charter, and commercial fishers.

Targeted spawning closures benefit species that aggregate in some form and experience higher catchability during peak spawning compared to outside the spawning period.

If catchability is similar throughout the year (e.g. for WA dhufish), then the timing of the closure does not matter, because fish have to survive the non-spawning period to be able to spawn. 

WCDSR support package​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

To support demersal scalefish stocks in the WCB, the WA Government has invested over $10 million to fund key initiatives, including:
  • Voluntary buyback of commercial fishing entitlement in the wetline fishery
  • Enhanced monitoring and research
  • Digital catch reporting for recreational fishers
  • Expanded juvenile pink snapper releases program
  • Expanded statewide Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) program
  • Support package for charter operators to diversify and adjust their businesses
  • ​Expanded education and awareness program.

Other resources​


Last modified: 14/02/2024 7:58 AM

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