AN annual four month ban on pink snapper fishing in Cockburn and Warnbro sounds could be one of the most important closures since the measure was introduced in 2000, according to Recfishwest.
Anglers are forbidden from catching the highly rated breed within the sounds between October and January each year, with the area providing a vital nursery to large aggregations of spawning fish.
Recfishwest spokesman Tim Grose said the 2016-17 closure would be particularly important, considering the hundreds of fish killed during last summer’s algae issue.
To counter that, some 50,000 juvenile snapper that had been raised in captivity have since been released into the sounds under the Snapper Guardian Project.
“We won’t know the extent of the fish kill event on snapper stocks for a few years, but obviously the visual of big breeding fish washed up on the beaches was not a good look and we’re hopeful the proactive management arrangements in place has helped build snapper numbers in metro waters,” Mr Grose said.
A Department of Fisheries spokeswoman said the incident was not expected to heavily impact on the success of the annual spawning aggregation.
“Based on fishing reports there are still significant numbers of fish entering Cockburn Sound and there is no indication of concern amongst recreational fishers,” she said.
“In considering the impact of the mortalities, it is important to remember that the snapper that aggregate to spawn in the Cockburn and Warnbro Sounds and Owen Anchorage are likely to be a relatively small part of the much larger stock distributed across the west coast.
“These aggregations are still important, but the impact on the total stock of this species is likely to be minimal.”
The Fisheries spokeswoman said the closure would be monitored to ensure rules were being followed.
“There will be significant compliance resources directed toward Cockburn sound during the closure period both on the water and at boat ramps,” she said.
To report illegal fishing activity call Fishwatch on 1800 815 507.