RecFishWest is also calling for a greater catch ratio for popular local species such as blue swimmer crabs (now skewed about 80/20 in favour of commercial fishermen) and more investment in the local fishing infrastructure through licence fees.
RecFishWest chief executive officer Andrew Rowland said the WA Liberal party’s recently released Fisheries Policy featured some positive initiatives.
WA Labor has yet to release any fisheries’ policies despite Opposition leader and Rockingham MLA Mark |McGowan’s proximity to one of WA’s most valuable fish nurseries.
‘Cockburn Sound is a very important area for recreational fishers as it provides sheltered waters for the small boats and is home to a wide range of popular fish species,’ Dr Rowland said.
‘We believe king george whiting, mulloway, pink snapper and dhufish are good candidates for stocking in near-shore waters along the west coast.
‘RecFishWest supports the commitment by the Liberal Party to expand the artificial reef program to Cockburn Sound or another similar location such as Warnbro Sound.
‘We believe artificial reefs have the ability to provide improved habitat for adults and juveniles of key fish species, as well as support increased biodiversity of marine life in general.
‘Cockburn and Warnbro sounds are key breeding areas for important species such as pink snapper.’
Dr Rowland said installing this kind of infrastructure would generate both social and economic benefits for Rockingham and Kwinana, boosting tourism dollars and supporting local businesses including tackle shops.
‘Consideration should also be given to integrating |purpose-built, fish-friendly reef concepts into sub-surface marine infrastructure, such as of marinas, breakwaters and jetties of any future coastal developments,’ he said.
‘These might be deemed long term aspirations, but we need this type of thinking from decision-makers to ensure recreational fishing, which is a key component of the WA lifestyle, is maintained and enhanced and that the wider community benefits are realised.’
Mr McGowan said WA Labor welcomed ‘any attempt to spare damage to Western Australia’s marine environment, providing it is based on sound scientific principles’.
‘The best way to ensure fishing stocks are viable is to provide adequate pollution management,’ he said.