Advice for abalone fishers

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Abalone fishers are advised to wear suitable clothing and check weather conditions before they enter the water on Sunday. Picture: Recfishwest

ABALONE fishers looking for the popular shellfish in Yanchep Lagoon or The Spot must keep a keen eye on the weather and water conditions and take responsibility for their actions on Sunday, December 4 says the Department of Fisheries and recreational fishing body Recfishwest.

Last month an abalone fisherman died after he got into trouble in rough conditions at one of Perth’s northern beaches and Surf Life Saving WA has said another three people had died and more than 100 had been rescued while fishing for abalone in WA since 2012.

Other fishers, who have been washed off reefs in the west coast zone have needed resuscitation or treatment for hypothermia during the past few seasons.

Fishers are reminded that while the west coast zone extends from Busselton jetty to the Greenough River mouth an abalone fishing ban remains in place for the coast north of Moore River.

Thousands of recreational abalone fishers take to the inshore reefs around the metropolitan coastline during the one-hour fishing periods from 7am to 8am on the first Sunday of each month from November to March, with about 17,000 people being issued with a licence this season.

Recfishwest chief executive officer Dr Andrew Rowland said fishers should be smart about how they catch their share of the delicacy.

“Fishing for abalone is a great way to spend the morning, and it’s important that people exercise caution and check the weather and swell conditions before taking to the water,” he said.

Department of Fisheries strategic fisheries policy manager Nathan Harrison said abiding by the daily bag limit of 15 for each licensed fisher and measuring abalone before removing from the reef was essential to ensure the iconic species remains sustainable well into the future.

“Hefty fines apply for those who exceed the bag limit or take abalone smaller than 60mm,’’ he said.

A copy of the Recreational fishing for abalone guide 2016-17 can be found on the Department of Fisheries website at www.fish.wa.gov.au

Licences are required for all abalone fishers and can also be purchased from the department’s website.

Recfishwest and SLSWA advise all abalone fishers before heading out to check weather conditions, including wind conditions and swells.

Visit www.beachsafe.org.au for up to date reports.

 Observe first, fish later – do not attempt to fish if you are unsure. Read the warnings and dangers on any safety signs.

 Wear appropriate clothing or wetsuits. Avoid heavy clothing, including tracksuits and work boots that become water logged and heavy.

 Never fish alone – stay in a group and keep an eye out for your friends and other fishers.

 Don’t panic – if in trouble stay calm and raise one arm and wave from side to side to attract attention.