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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource

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Management measures for the recreational, charter and commercial sectors

Following extensive community and industry consultation new management changes will be introduced to boost the recovery of demersal scalefish stocks.

The current two-month demersal closure will be extended to a total of six months for recreational fishers in the West Coast Bioregion from Kalbarri to Augusta.​ 

The closure period has been significantly reduced from the initial eight or nine-month proposal, following consultation with recreational fishers.

The open seasons have been timed to allow people to catch these prized fish during all school holiday periods.

Catching demersal scalefish will be prohibited* from:

  • 1 February to 31 March (inclusive)
  • 1 August to the beginning of the September/October school holidays; and
  • end of the September/October school holidays​ to 15 December (inclusive).

*Note - this does not apply to charter or land-based recreational line fishers who can now fish all year round.​

Recreational fishers can continue to catch non-demersal scalefish species during the closures.

The commercial sector will have its available fishing hours in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery (line fishery) reduced to achieve a 50 per cent cut in total allowable catch.

Commercial fishing will remain closed across the Perth metropolitan coast, from Lancelin to south of Mandurah.

For charter operators, a quota system (tags) will be introduced with specific limits on the number of demersal scalefish that can be kept each year.

Recovery will be supported by a range of new measures, including a boat limit of four demersal scalefish per vessel for recreational fishers, expanded spawning protections and gear limits.

It is important to understand the current rules will remain in place when recreational fishing for demersal scalefish in the West Coast Bioregion reopens on 16 December. New rules will come into effect for recreational fishers from 1 February 2023.

Changes for commercial and charter fishers will align with licence renewal periods. Changes for the commercial sector will come into effect on 1 January 2023 and for the charter sector 1 July 2023.

Summary of management changes​ for all sectors

Media release​

FAQ​

New rules brochure​

Investment in recovery

The McGowan Government is further boosting sustainability by investing $10 million across a host of supporting measures. Key initiatives include:

  • a targeted, voluntary buyback of commercial fishing licenses;
  • enhanced monitoring and research including digital catch reporting;
  • expanding the juvenile pink snapper restocking program;
  • expanding the State-wide Fish Aggregating Device (FAD) program;
  • a support package for charter operators to diversify tourism experiences; and
  • an expanded education and awareness program.

Next steps

Management changes for recreational fishers will come into effect from 1 February 2023.

The implementation of management changes for the commercial sector and charter fishery will align with licence renewal periods. Changes for the commercial sector will come into effect on 1 January 2023 and for the charter sector 1 July 2023.

The McGowan Government will be undertaking an extensive education campaign to inform fishers and the wider community of the rule changes and how they are being introduced.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will monitor the impact of the new management changes on stock recovery including continuing to monitoring fishing mortality for all sectors annually and finalising another stock assessment at the end of 2023.​

Recovery plan​

A 20-year recovery plan for the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource from Kalbarri to Augusta has been in place since 2010, after a period of overfishing in the early 2000s, to ensure there are stocks of these iconic fish for the future.

While previous management arrangements protected demersal scalefish stocks from declining any further, new measures were needed to boost the recovery effort and enable stocks of these important fish to recover to sustainable levels by 2030.

The need for these measures followed the release of the 2021 scientific stock assessment of pink snapper and dhufish, two key demersal indicator species, and recovery milestones set in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Resource Harvest Strategy.

The stock assessment showed the rate of recovery was not fast enough to meet 2030 targets, and there continued to be a lack of older dhufish and pink snapper in the population, which is important as these are the breeding fish, needed to replenish stocks.

It is vitally important that we recover the resource by 2030 as a prolonged recovery timeframe increases the risk of further decline in stocks, particularly if we experience prolonged periods of low breeding success.

For more West Coast Demersal information:

FAQs, which explain the harvest strategy​, how it was developed, its milestones, how we monitor and measure the fish stock, current and future management are also available.​

Other resources:

Catch care guide​

Understanding the science

Shark depredation science update​

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Last modified: 10/01/2023 2:31 PM

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