Halco manager fears for tackle businesses in Western Australia
A proposed fishing ban in Western Australia will send tackle and charter businesses ‘to the wall’ says a leading industry figure.
As a petition opposing the move surged past 15,000, Tim Carter (pictured), Sales and Marketing Manager at top tackle supplier Halco, made the grim forecast on the repercussions.
If passed, the proposed plan means that anglers will be unable to catch species such as dhufish, pink snapper, baldchin and grouper for up to nine months a year. A consultation period began on August 18th and has been extended to September 30th.
Angling group Recfishwest strongly opposes the changes, but Fisheries Minister Don Punch says reducing the catch is necessary because of serious sustainability concerns. He said catches need to halve in the West Coast demersal fishery from Kalbarri to Augusta.
The plan provides two options. One allows fishing for demersal scale fish over the popular summer and autumn seasons. The second allows fishing over the autumn and spring seasons to avoid the peak spawning periods for key species.
The proposal would see the recreational fishery open for 94 days or 123 days. The charter sector would be allocated a specific limit for the number of demersal species that could retained each year.
“These options are designed to minimise the impact on tourism and regional jobs while supporting the recovery of demersal stocks,” says Punch.
Carter said that both proposals are totally unacceptable to the majority of fishers and that anglers are fighting to obtain a better outcome.
“It will send tackle and charter businesses to the wall and severely hamper the recreational angler for no real benefit. Stocks and sustainability of these species – by our own fisheries’ admission – are improving. It is merely the rate of improvement that doesn’t currently meet the objectives of total recovery by 2030.
“The minister has taken poor advice from his advisers and the commercial fishing sector. But we remain in the fight.”
Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland said he was ‘shocked and disappointed’ with the proposed measures.
“Important parts of the advice and recommendations we put forward have been largely ignored in the papers that came out for public comment,” he said. “We’re broadly supportive of taking some action. Fish come first and sustainability is paramount. But with a limited amount of fish to go round, the question is: what is the highest and best use of those fish?
“This West Coast demersal scale fish fishery is only 5% of Western Australia’s local demersal scale fish supply. Most of it comes from the north-west of the state.”
The proposal would also impact the commercial fishing industry, but CEO of the WA Fishing Industry Council Darryl Hockey said the commercial sector was broadly supportive of the changes and ‘wanted to be part of the solution.’
Following completion of the consultation period, management packages to support the recovery of commercial stocks by 2030 will be submitted to the Minister for Fisheries for approval.