Abalone fishers to get an extra hour this season

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Roe's abalone stocks have returned to pre-marine heatwave levels so fishers will be allowed an extra hour of fishing this season. Picture: Anita McInnes

ABALONE fishers in the west coast zone will have an extra hour of fishing this season except north of the Moore River, which remains closed.

Having an extra Saturday for a fifth recreational fishing hour is a result of lifting the recreational catch range from 18-22 tonnes last season, to 28-32 tonnes for the coming season.

Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley said agreed management strategies, combined with a marine cold spell from 2016 to 2019 had accelerated the recovery of Roe’s abalone in the west coast zone between Moore River and the Busselton jetty.

“I would like to thank the department’s abalone scientists and managers for working closely with both the recreational and commercial sectors,’’ he said.

“Both sectors supported the post marine heatwave strategy and it’s certainly paying off.’’

The designated Saturdays for abalone fishing this season are December 12, January 9, January 23, February 6 and February 20.

But if poor weather is forecast the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) will act on the advice of Surf Life Saving Western Australia.

During the abalone season DPIRD will monitor the recreational catch range, to ensure the fishery’s sustainability into the future – this could lead to in-season changes to the recreational fishing hours.

Commercial fishers will have a maximum abalone catch of 32.8 tonnes, up from 26.5 tonnes.

North of Moore River is part of the west coast zone but it along with the whole northern zone running from the Greenough River mouth to the Northern Territory border remains closed to abalone fishers.

Fishers can collect sea urchin between Greenough River south to Busselton jetty.

For more information including about licences, bag limits and when fishing for sea urchin is allowed go to the new Abalone recreational fishing guide 2020-21

Strict rules are in place to ensure the sustainability of abalone and western rock lobster, two of the state’s most lucrative fisheries.

In October DPIRD said a 37-year-old man from Margaret River had been ordered to pay $119,625 in fines, mandatory penalties and court costs after pleading guilty to seven charges related to the trafficking of abalone and western rock lobster.