RECREATIONAL abalone fishers have been warned to carefully measure their catches and abide by bag limits after more than 17,000 licences were issued for the West Coast Zone abalone season starting Sunday.
The minimum legal size for Roe’s abalone is 60mm and the daily WCZ bag limit is 15.
The WCZ abalone season is open from 7am to 8am on the first Sunday of each month from November to March.
However, the Department of Fisheries may need to further reduce the number of fishing days to prevent the season target of 20 tonnes being exceeded.
“Fisheries and Recfishwest will be assessing recreational catches and the abalone stock during the season to closely monitor the fishery,” Fisheries Minister Joe Francis said.
Fisheries officers will be patrolling abalone fishing spots on allocated fishing days, to ensure fishers are licensed and aware of the rules.
“It is very important fishers measure carefully to ensure an abalone is legal size before removing it from a reef, and to abide by the bag limit,” Mr Francis said.
“Recreational abalone fishers should also keep their safety in mind at all times and not take risks if they encounter bad weather or big swells during the season.
“No abalone is worth a life.”
Since 2012 there have been three deaths while abalone fishing and in the past three years surf lifesaving services have had to perform 42 rescues of abalone fishers
Mr Francis said abalone had been declining in recent years due to environmental factors affecting growth and the recruitment of juvenile abalone.
“We’re very lucky to have a recreational abalone fishery on our doorstep, however we need to maintain careful management and good compliance to ensure abalone fishers can enjoy the experience for years to come,” he said.
“We must manage the fishery carefully.”
The Recreational fishing for abalone guide 2016/17 is available here