New measures set to boost the recovery of West Coast demersal scalefish

News story
Updates to the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Recovery Plan to increase dermersal scalefish stocks.
Fish swimming underwater

New measures are being introduced to boost the recovery of demersal scalefish stocks from Kalbarri to Augusta, following extensive community and industry consultation.

The changes are supported by science and meet the agreed catch limit of 375 tonnes to get demersal scalefish stocks back on track.

The West Coast Demersal Scalefish Recovery plan was established in 2010 in response to overfishing which occurred in the early 2000s. To date, the management plan has prevented numbers from dropping further. Increased measures are necessary to ensure sustainable stocks of demersal scalefish.

Common demersal species include dhufish, baldchin groper, breaksea cod, and pink snapper.

Key changes to the management plan include:

  • The current two-month demersal closure will be extended by four months for recreational fishers in the West Coast Bioregion from Kalbarri to Augusta. 
  • Catching demersal scalefish from a boat will be prohibited from:
    • 1 February to 31 March (inclusive) 
    • 1 August to the beginning of the September / October school holidays;
    • And end of the September / October school holidays to 15 December (inclusive)
  • Reduced commercial fishing hours in the West Coast Demersal Scalefish Fishery (line fishery) to achieve a 50 per cent cut in total allowable catch
  • A tag system for charter operators including limits on the number of demersal scalefish kept each year.
  • Boat limits of 4 demersal per vessel for recreational fishers, plus expanded spawning protections and gear limits.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development is monitoring the impact of the changes, which are in place until 2030.

The rules are in effect for:

  • Commercial sector from 1 January 2023
  • Recreational fishers from 1 February 2023
  • Charter sector from 1 July 2023

Changes for commercial and charter fishers align with licence renewal periods.

The WA Government is investing $10 million in supporting sustainable demersal stock management. The funding will contribute to education, management, monitoring and research programs.

Find out more about the changes and learn about the new rules in place for each sector.

Page reviewed 9 December 2022