ABALONE fishers will be restricted to fishing on four Saturdays starting this December rather than five Sundays over the season as a result of changes to improve safety.
The changes announced on Sunday, result from a Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development review into the fishery following four deaths since 2012, including at Yanchep and North Beach.
Following consultation with Recfishwest and Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA), Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly approved changes in a bid to help improve the safety of recreational fishers and lifeguards.
The West Coast Zone season will now run over summer to reduce the risk of rough weather conditions and fishing days will be from 7-8am on four Saturdays, starting December 9, instead of Sundays. UPDATE, October 19: The other three hour-long fishing windows will be on January 13 then February 3 and 17.
“It is not worth risking a life for an abalone, so we urge licensed abalone fishers to embrace these important safety changes,” Mr Kelly said.
“From now on if poor weather conditions are forecast, we will close the fishery – we won’t put fishers or SLSWA volunteers’ lives at risk.
“The aim of moving to Saturday fishing days in summer is to reduce the potential of encountering bad weather, which puts fishers’ lives at risk.
“Changing the fishing day from Sunday to Saturday will also help free up SLSWA resources from competing activities, ensuring they can help make the early one-hour fishing windows safer in the new season.”
Almost 18,000 licences are issued annually and the department will monitor fishers throughout the season to ensure the total catch is between 18-22 tonnes.