WA: New season format for abalone fishing

Licensed recreational abalone fishers have been urged to familiarise themselves with the revised fishing format for the 2011 recreational abalone fishing season.

Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said the new format allowed fishing for one Sunday a month over a five-month period.

“Fishing will begin as usual on Sunday, November 6 and operate for one hour only (7am-8am) and there will then be a month’s break between each fishing opportunity,” Mr Moore said.

“The previous abalone fishing season arrangements allowed for five one-hour sessions over five consecutive Sundays, but the new season will be the first Sunday of the month for five consecutive months.”

Recreational abalone fishing in the West Coast Zone, between the Busselton Jetty and Moore River, will also be permitted between 7am and 8am, on December 4, 2011, January 1, 2012, February 5, 2012 and March 4, 2012.

The Minister said recreational fishers had requested the new season structure, because conditions in November were often too cold and rough.

“Fishing in the warmer months will add to the safety for abalone collectors due to lower swells and longer breaks between fishing windows will also provide flexibility for the Department of Fisheries to monitor the fishery throughout the season, from a research and compliance perspective,” he said.

“It will enable researchers to use catch prediction models based on tide, swell and wind to manage the season in ‘real-time’ to ensure the total allowable catch of 40 tonne for all recreational fishers can be adhered to.

“If monitoring indicates excessive catch levels under the new format, it may be necessary to close the season earlier and notify fishers.”

People are also reminded they must have the appropriate licence to fish for abalone and that a total closure applies from north of Moore River to the Northern Territory border.

With that closure, abalone stocks along the Mid-West and North-West coastlines have been placed under full protection, so they can recover from a marine heatwave that almost destroyed stocks in some parts of Western Australia’s coast last summer.

View the online guide to abalone fishing in WA here.