Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has praised the focus on safety in education efforts by Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA, in the lead-up to this Saturday’s (December 8) opening of the 2018-19 West Coast Zone abalone fishing season.
Last season, to improve safety for recreational fishers, management changes and a restructure of fishing days were introduced.
The season’s fishing days now occur over summer to reduce the likelihood of encountering bad weather, with the additional ability to cancel and reschedule a fishing day if necessary.
Having that flexibility and running the fishing sessions on Saturdays puts recfishers’ safety first, with the necessary support from Surf Life Saving WA and their clubs available to monitor fishers.
The new safety measures implemented by the McGowan Government last abalone season reduced the number of rescues by about 90 per cent, with five rescues last season compared to 49 the season before.
The number of preventative actions, such as directing people to the correct entry points and away from potential danger areas, was also dramatically reduced by about 80 per cent – from 991 in 2016-17 down to only 206 for the 2017-18 season.
Recreational fishers must have a valid abalone licence to take part in the 7am to 8am fishing hours on the four specified fishing days – December 8, 2018; January 12, 2019; February 2, 2019 and February 16, 2019.
The West Coast Zone includes the Perth metropolitan area and runs from Busselton Jetty to the mouth of the Moore River. Areas north of Moore River are closed until further notice.
As noted by Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:
“We’re asking fishers to put their safety first, as always, this abalone season. Abalone may be a highly valuable catch, but no fish is worth risking your life.
“Last year, following our safety changes, the number of rescues were reduced by about 90 per cent and preventative actions were reduced by about 80 per cent – but we want to reduce this even further this season.
“Recfishers are asked to ensure their water skills, clothing and gear is suitable for abalone fishing, and to follow advice from Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA.
“About 18,000 recreational abalone fishers are expected to be out fishing over the four specified fishing days, with a bounty of between 18 to 22 tonnes of abalone available for recfishers to sustainably fish.
“I’d like to thank Recfishwest and the volunteers at Surf Life Saving WA for their effort and dedication in keeping abalone fishers safe. I wish every abalone fisher a safe and rewarding season.”