The controversial new restrictions for recreational fishing have come into effect in Western Australia (WA), banning the catching of demersal scalefish along 900 kilometres of coastline.
Under a new sustainability plan, the ruling means that anglers cannot catch species such as snapper and dhufish from a boat for six months of the year. And those caught doing so could be fined up to $5,000.
The ban applies between Kalbarri and Augusta from February 1st to March 31st, from August 1st to the beginning of the September/October school holidays and from the end of those holidays until December 15th.
And anyone fishing from boats outside of those dates will be limited to four demersal fish per vessel. Anglers fishing from the shore, along with charter boats and commercial fishers are exempt from the seasonal closures.
The move follows industry-wide consultation last year by the WA Government, which aims to reduce catches by 50% to aid stock recovery.
However, anglers remain unhappy, insisting that the measures are too draconian. “They go well beyond what we need to meet the 50% reduction target,” said Recfishwest Chief Executive Andrew Rowland, adding that he was disappointed that commercial fishers are still allowed to catch demersal fish during the restriction periods. “We think the balance is wrong,” he said.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will monitor the impact of the changes and make a further stock assessment at the end of this year. The Government is also investing in extra research on the species and helping anglers better understand the state of the fishery and the new rules.
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