Fisheries officers to be out in force to keep watch over abalone fishers

Fisheries and Marine officer Dale Stanton was among the patrols overlooking abalone catchers on reefs on Saturday. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.
Fisheries and Marine officer Dale Stanton was among the patrols overlooking abalone catchers on reefs on Saturday. Picture: Andrew Ritchie.

FISHERIES officers and surf lifesavers will be watching abalone fishers on Perth’s coast tomorrow and issuing fines for those catching the prized shellfish illegally.

“Fisheries and marine officers overseeing compliance will be along the metropolitan coast from Yanchep to Mandurah,” Fisheries and Marine officer Dale Stanton said.

From 7am to 8am tomorrow, recreational fishers can take 15 of the shellfish from metropolitan reefs, except Cottesloe, Shoalwater and Waterman’s marine parks, after an estimated 5.16 tonnes was caught in 60 minutes on December 9.

“Experienced abalone fishers that day were easily able to get the bag limit within 15 to 20 minutes and the majority of the abalone inspected appeared to be of a good legal size,” Mr Stanton said.

However, a person was found with 50 abalone, which is 35 over the limit, another with 16 too many, and officers issued eight fines for breaching bags, including a $1000 penalty for 15 undersized abalone, and warned 33 for ignoring limits and fishing too early.

Tomorrow, surf lifesavers will patrol to stop abalone catchers drowning and assist those in trouble, after they rescued 49, removed 991 and provided first aid to 10 people during last year’s season.

Surf Lifesaving WA (SLSWA) general manager Chris Peck said catchers had previously overestimated their abilities to deal with swell and waves, and wearing unsuitable clothing.

This season, SLSWA launched a safety campaign after successfully getting the number of catching days reduced and moved to when there were more lifesavers on Saturdays.

“The more hazardous the conditions, the greater the chance of incidents and the more work the volunteer surf lifesavers are required to complete, but the forecast weather conditions are likely to see improved outcomes for fisher safety this Saturday,” Mr Peck said.

He said catchers should still check weather before deciding to go, they had to take responsibility for their behaviour, wear appropriate long-sleeved wetsuits and reef shoes, and fish with a friend or a group for safety.

This season’s final catching hours start at 7am on February 3 and 17

Safety advice is at www.mybeach.com.au/abalone, and details on where you can go and licences are at www.fish.wa.gov.au.

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