Reminder as abalone season opens

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In the lead up to the opening of the abalone season tomorrow fishers are being reminded safety is a priority. Picture: Department of Fisheries

ABALONE fishers will be out if force at Yanchep Lagoon and The Spot tomorrow in what is the west coast zone’s first fishing day for this season.

Fishers are allowed to take abalone between 7am and 8am tomorrow Saturday, December 9 in the west coast zone, which extends north to the Moore River.

Saturday fishing for abalone was one change Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly made for the 2017-18 west coast zone recreational abalone fishing season to improve fisher safety, following a review of the fishery.

The review was conducted earlier this year after the death of a fourth abalone fisher since 2012.

Fishers are reminded the west coast zone daily bag limit for Roe’s abalone is 15, no fishing is permitted north of Moore River until further notice and fishing for sea urchin is permitted only during the abalone open season.

Mr Kelly said safety for abalone fishers was a priority, with new provisions to cancel fishing days if required.

The season now runs over the summer months to reduce the risk of rough weather conditions and fishing days will be on four specified Saturdays to ensure Surf Life Saving WA have the resources to help make the one-hour fishing window safer.

Next year fishing – depending on weather conditions – will also be allowed between 7am and 8am on Saturday January 13, February 3, and February 17.

Mr Kelly said it was not worth a fisher risking their life for abalone, which was why the government and relevant agencies had introduced new measures to help improve fisher safety.

“Surf Life Saving WA, Recfishwest and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development have worked collaboratively on these changes to find the balance between fisher safety, fisher amenity and the sustainability of the fishery,’’ he said.

“Importantly from now on if poor weather conditions are forecast, we will close the fishery – we won’t put fishers or Surf Life Saving WA volunteers’ lives at risk.

“The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development will act on Surf Life Saving WA advice to close and reschedule season fishing days.

“I urge abalone fishers to think safety at all times as they seek this seafood delicacy – remembering that it’s not worth risking your life for any fish.”

Mr Kelly said more than 15,500 people had already taken out licences to access Western Australia’s west coast zone abalone fishery in the lead up to the first fishing day tomorrow.

“Recreational abalone catches will be closely monitored on all fishing days to ensure the target range of 18-22 tonnes is met, using options to reduce, or extend, the number of fishing days as appropriate.

“This will ensure the ongoing sustainability of this highly popular but fragile fishery.’’

More details and season dates are available at http://www.fish.wa.gov.au