The McGowan Government has moved to improve fishing safety for Western Australia's unique West Coast Zone recreational abalone fishery.
The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development conducted a review into the fishery after the deaths of four people since 2012.
Following consultation with Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA), Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly has approved changes to the management of the fishery, in a bid to help improve the safety of recreational fishers and lifeguards.
The West Coast Zone season will now run over summer to reduce the risk of rough weather conditions and fishing days will be on four specified Saturdays, with the first fishing day scheduled for December 9, 2017, instead of Sundays, between 7am and 8am. However, if severe weather conditions are forecast, the department will take action on the advice of local councils, SLSWA and Recfishwest to close the fishery.
Throughout the season, the recreational abalone catch will be closely monitored to ensure the fishery's sustainability and that this season's total catch is between 18-22 tonnes, with options to reduce, or extend, the number of fishing days to keep the catch within this range.
Almost 18,000 licences are issued annually in this highly valued fishery on Perth's doorstep.
More details are available in the new abalone fishing guide at http://www.fish.wa.gov.au
Comments attributed to Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly:
"This year the abalone fishing season along Perth's coast will be changed in an effort to prevent any more deaths.
"It is not worth risking a life for an abalone, so we urge licensed abalone fishers to embrace these important safety changes.
"Importantly from now on if poor weather conditions are forecast, we will close the fishery - we won't put fishers or SLSWA volunteers' lives at risk.
"The aim of moving to Saturday fishing days in summer is to reduce the potential of encountering bad weather, which puts fishers' lives at risk.
"Changing the fishing day from Sunday to Saturday will also help free up SLSWA resources from competing activities, ensuring they can help make the early one-hour fishing windows safer in the new season.
"These new arrangements were developed in consultation with Recfishwest and SLSWA and provides a balance between fisher safety and sustainability.
"We want to ensure this rare and unique fishing opportunity remains safe and available to recreational fishers in the long term."
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