State Govt to consult fishing community over $1m artificial reef off Perth’s northern suburbs

Diving in Dunsborough. Picture: Recfishwest
Diving in Dunsborough. Picture: Recfishwest

A $1 million artificial reef is on the cards for the northern suburbs, with the State Government planning to consult the fishing community to determine where it should go.

The reef would be one of 11 recreational fishing projects worth almost $2 million funded through fishing licence revenue in the latest round of the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

“We’ve asked WA fishers where they want their licence money spent and artificial reefs continually come out towards the top of the list,” Fisheries Minister Dave Kelly said.

“Artificial reefs can provide quality fishing opportunities to help fishers avoid having to travel excessive distances or venture into rough waters, and they can also mean a huge boost for localised tourism as well as a win for fish habitats.

“A new artificial reef will enhance the recfishing opportunities for the growing northern suburbs.”

The announcement comes five years after the deployment of WA’s first artificial reef for fishing in Bunbury and the northern metropolitan reef will become the state’s seventh purpose-built artificial reef.

Having announced a $5 increase to annual licence fees in last week’s State Budget, Mr Kelly said it was part of the State Government’s election commitment to ensure 25 per cent of recfishing licence money went back into the sector.

“A further 15 per cent of licence fees goes towards funding for Recfishwest, with the balance of licence fee money supporting fisheries management through the department,” he said.

Licences are required in recreational fishing for rock lobster, abalone and marron, when fishing with a net or from a boat, and also for freshwater angling in the South-West.

A fishing from a boat licence will cost $40 with all other activity licences being $50.

According to Recfishwest, the reef would make fishing more accessible and enhance the habitat close to shore.

Research officer James Florisson said artificial reefs provided a complex habitat for a range of different species.

“Once algae, corals and invertebrates make themselves at home, they produce additional biomass in the food chain, creating a food source for fish and other species,” he said.

“Artificial reefs in WA have been a product of community drive and passion with local fishers pushing for reef installations, transforming areas devoid of bottom structure and habitat to underwater ‘forests’.

“Artificial reefs have also benefited the broader local community by supporting local businesses and the economy through increased fishing tourism.

“The artificial reefs provide not only an opportunity for ecological growth under the water, but also social and economic growth for the community.”

The State Government plans to consult the fishing community and other stakeholders before selecting a site, which is likely to be between Hillarys and Two Rocks.

Mr Florisson said the fishing community had a sense of ownership over developing artificial reefs and could provide advice on maximising fishing opportunities.

“There is no doubt that the fishing community will continue to grow a sense of stewardship for artificial reefs as we see more and more deployed throughout WA,” he said.

Mr Florisson said artificial reefs complemented WA’s fisheries management approach to ensuring fish stocks remained sustainable.

For more information, visit recfishwest.org.au/rfif.

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