Swell keeps some abalone fishers away

The forecast swell probably kept some recreational abalone fishers away from Yanchep Lagoon this morning. Picture: Anita McInnes

FEWER fishers have taken advantage of the one hour allowed for abalone fishing at Yanchep Lagoon this morning.

Usually the reef at Yanchep Lagoon is crowded with people wanting to get their hands on the delicacy but fewer fishers were there when Yanchep News Online visited the lagoon this morning.

Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club (YSLSC) members were on patrol together with the rescue boat Guardian 1 from the Two Rocks Volunteer Marine Rescue Group, which operates between Alkimos and Moore River.

Yesterday YSLSC lifeguards closed Yanchep beach after the Westpac Lifesaver helicopter crew sighted six 3m hammerhead sharks about 100m from shore 1km south of Yanchep heading north.

The beach was closed for about two hours.

About two minutes before the crew had spotted a school of 3m hammerhead sharks about 100m off shore at Alkimos.

Fishers who stayed away from Yanchep Lagoon and those who took to the water today are no doubt interested to learn there could be an extra abalone fishing day added at the end of the season to make up for the day fishing was cancelled last month.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) aquatic resource management director Nathan Harrison said to replace the cancelled abalone fishing day in January, an extra fishing day could be added to the end of the fishing season. 
“At this stage the proposed additional day is being considered for Saturday, March 9 but this is subject to the estimated recreational abalone catches being within the sustainable target levels of 18 to 22 tonnes if the extra day is added,” he said.
“The department continues to monitor this season’s catch so that information on the additional day can be provided as early as possible.

“At the latest fishers will be advised of the extension to the season in the week following the last scheduled fishing day on Saturday, February 16.”

Earlier this week DPIRD said recreational fishing for abalone in the West Coast zone, from 7am to 8am on Saturday, February 2 would go ahead, but fishers should keep their personal safety top of mind.

The Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) had recommended – based on surf prediction modelling – that fishing could proceed, but with caution.

So, licensed abalone fishers taking part were reminded to make an individual assessment of the sea and weather conditions on the day and ensure their water skills, clothing and gear were suitable for abalone fishing. 

SLSWA’s modelling is guided by the best available information on sea and weather conditions from multiple information sources and sites.

This rates the risks for factors such as wind speed, swell, tide and swell period. 

While the wind speed and swell height are important, swell period is equally important and can often be overlooked as a key factor when analysing forecast conditions.

A long swell period is known to double the forecast wave height and has the potential to make conditions more unpredictable for participants. 

DPIRD aquatic resource management director Nathan Harrison said while the forecast swell period would be lower than predictions for the cancelled January 12 fishing day, caution was still needed for Saturday.

“Putting safety first is a priority for the department, Surf Life Saving WA and Recfishwest – no abalone is worth risking your life over,” he said.

“The Surf Life Saving WA modelling for Saturday sets the risk factors in the upper medium range.

“If you are unsure whether conditions are too rough, don’t go in. “Study the waves before you get into the water, keep an eye on the swell while fishing and wear the right gear – it’s easy to be injured on reefs.”

Additional abalone fishing safety tips are also available on Surf Life Saving WA’s website at https://www.mybeach.com.au/safety-rescue-services/coastal-recreation/abalone/Swell keeps some abalone fishers away