Last catch for the abalone season

Neil Sumich was happy with hia abalone haul.
Neil Sumich was happy with hia abalone haul.

GOOD weather and small swell greeted abalone fishers along Perth’s coast, including Yanchep, during the final fishing session of the season last Sunday.

Department of Fisheries officers at various metropolitan locations issued three infringements for undersized abalone, seven for exceeding the bag limit and two for people fishing without a licence on Sunday.

They also gave formal warnings to 32 people exceeding the bag limit and 22 who caught undersized abalone.

The department’s principal management officer for abalone, Martin Holtz, said that overall there had been a lower participation rate during the first four fishing sessions compared with previous seasons, with about 20 tonnes of abalone caught.

‘This is in part due to the bad weather experienced on the opening session in November,’ Mr Holtz said.

‘The Department of Fisheries will be initiating discussions with Recfishwest, following the closure of the season, to review all aspects of the past season and consider future management arrangements for the fishery.’

Mr Holtz said the department and Surf Life Saving WA had adopted a joint approach so if difficult weather conditions were forecast, they would issue public alerts and reinforce safety messages similar to one given before the first session of the 2012-13 season.

‘Teams of fisheries and marine officers are deployed to monitor each fishing session,’ he said.

‘SLSWA will continue to provide additional on water and beach safety services and an earlier start for its helicopter patrols to cover popular abalone fishing spots.’

Since a man drowned while fishing for abalone at Yanchep Lagoon last November, the Yanchep Surf Life Saving Club has increased the number of patrolling bronze medallion members, who rescued two fishers on Sunday.

Figures from the Department for the second and third abalone sessions suggested about 200 participants would have caught between 3000 and 3500 abalone, weighing up to 280kg, at Yanchep last Sunday.

Under existing regulations, the next West Coast abalone season should start on November 3.