Cottesloe Fish Habitat Protection Area founders want rangers to have fisheries officers’ powers


Cottesloe Fish Habitat Protection Area founders Ken Macintyre and Barbara Dobson.
Cottesloe Fish Habitat Protection Area founders Ken Macintyre and Barbara Dobson.

COTTESLOE Fish Habitat Protection Area (CFHPA) founders said the town’s rangers need re-arming with honorary fisheries officers’ (HFOs) powers to protect the community-established marine sanctuary.

“We fought very hard for the rangers to have the powers when the area was established, and the rangers were very eager, and they enjoyed looking after the marine environment,” CFHPA co-founder Ken Macintyre said.

In 2001, anthropologists Dr Macintyre and Barbara Dobson, with about 500 supporters including Cottesloe MLA Colin Barnett and Curtin MHR Julie Bishop, lobbied the council for the CFHPA, which runs about 4km along the coast and up to 800m offshore.

It protects the habitat of the rare leafy sea dragon, sea cucumbers and sponges once found in Cockburn Sound, and has four mooring buoys to stop anchors damaging the ecosystem where local laws ban spearguns, gidgees and shore fishing for sharks.

Dr Macintyre and Dr Dobson said rangers initially had Department of Fisheries training to report and police illegal activity, including temporary confiscation of tackle and equipment.

Dr Dobson said a recent spate of shore fishing for sharks warranted the council resurrecting rangers’ marine powers that may have lapsed when those initially trained left the council.

“They could have made a difference by going up and saying to the shark fishermen the council had a bylaw, and educating people about it,” Dr Dobson said.

At last week’s council meeting, staffs’ answers to Councillor Sally Pyvis’ questions said the rangers’ fisheries powers were not removed but their reinstatement would need investigation and discussions with Department of Fisheries.

Yesterday, Department of Fisheries regional manager Tony Cappelluti said rangers could become HFOs but appointments were strictly managed because they had full fisheries officers’ powers, but they could be restricted to just marine parks or reef protection areas.

HFOs get a week’s training for a two-year appointment that is reviewed at its expiry, but full-time fisheries officers have 12 weeks of initial training, and are supervised until being assessed on being able to do their jobs without oversight.

“The concept of giving identical powers, which include arrest, seizure and powers to require names and addresses, to employees of another agency that the Department of Fisheries has little control over, is not something we take lightly,” he said.

Cottesloe council was unable to reply before deadline.