FISHERIES officers have issued 45 fines and almost 150 warnings so far this abalone season, as well initiating nine prosecutions.
Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development fisheries management officer Shane Waters said officers had prosecuted and issued those fines to people fishing between Yanchep and Mandurah this season.
Although the final figures may change once Saturday’s offences are reviewed, Mr Waters said the 45 fines ranged from $200 to $1000 and officers gave 144 warnings.
The department introduced changes to the recreational abalone fishing season in the West Coast Zone late last year in a bid to improve safety with the support of Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA.
Those changes included reducing the number of fishing sessions from five to four, changing the dates from Sundays to Saturdays and holding them in summer rather than late spring and early autumn.
“The changes to the season provided improved fishing conditions during West Coast Zone abalone fishing days to enhance safety for recreational abalone fishers,” he said.
“(It) improved surf lifesaving resource availability during the selected Saturday fishing days, by avoiding periods of high demand for surf lifesavers.
“Any further improvements related to fisher safety and stock sustainability will be considered during the annual review in consultation with Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA.”
Despite the changes, a Korean man (62) died after fishing with family members near Ocean Reef marina on February 17.
WA Police are investigating the death and will prepare a report for the coroner.
Mr Waters said prior to the fourth fishing session, the total recreational catch had been 16.56 tonnes of abalone with the final volume yet to be confirmed.
He said the department had issued 17,620 recreational abalone fishing licences so far this season compared to 17,868 licences issued the same time last year.
“The licence entitles fishers to not only take part in the West Coast Zone recreational fishing season, but also to fish for abalone in the Southern Zone that extends from the Busselton Jetty to the South Australian border,” he said.
“The Southern Zone season runs between October 1 and May 15 the following year.”