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Government of Western Australia - Department of Fisheries

Herring management

Australian herring is targeted by recreational and commercial fishers In Western Australia and is highly valued by both sectors. We manage recreational and commercial herring fishers together through a resource based approach which ensures that the catch is sustainable and provides maximum benefit to the community.

Herring is a ‘bread and butter’ species to recreational fishers and is most commonly caught from shore or small boats. Recreational fishing is mainly managed through bag and possession limits. We manage commercial fishing for herring through limited entry, gear restrictions, and seasonal, time and area closures. 

Herring is managed to a target catch range, which is based on recent annual catches and also takes into account natural variations in recruitment. Each year, as part of reviewing the state of the herring stock, the actual catch is compared to the target catch.

2015-2022 management measures

A rigorous stock assessment published in 2013 showed that through a combination of environmental factors and fishing the WA herring stock was under pressure, and needed to be protected in order for stocks to return to sustainable levels.

A daily bag limit of 12 for recreational fishers and closure of the commercial South Coast G-net Fishery came into force on 1 March 2015 to ease fishing pressure, and help the stock recovery of this important species.

After a period of stock decline in 2013, the 2021 Australian herring resource stock assessment indicated that the management actions taken had been successful and that the stock had recovered. The recovery of the Australian herring resource provides an opportunity to take a contemporary approach to management, which will allow for optimal use and maximise community benefit from the resource. As part of this approach, the main objective for this resource is ‘to support quality recreational fishing experiences and commercial fishing operations focussed on supply of herring for human consumption.’

We are working with the recreational and commercial sectors to develop a future management strategy for Australian herring. This new management approach will consider the ecosystem in addition to the impacts and needs of all fishing sectors and the broader community. While we develop this new strategy a number of interim arrangements have been implemented including:

  • A 70t Exemption for G-trap fishers to build food markets for herring and;
  • An increase to the recreational bag limit of herring from 12 to 20 fish from 1 October 2022.

These interim arrangements allow commercial and recreational fishers to benefit from the recovery of the herring stock while we determine a way forward together.

Read the 2022 science update​ about Australian herring.


Last modified: 30/09/2022 2:25 PM

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