Liberals plan to boost recreational fishing and protect Cockburn Sound

Dec 16, 2020 | Featured Policy, Plan, State News

 Zak Kirkup and the Liberals have committed $36 million to boost recreational fishing initiatives in Western Australia while emphasising their strong commitment to protecting Cockburn Sound. 

“West Australians are lucky to enjoy some of the most pristine natural marine environments in the world and we want to make sure these are protected for future generations to enjoy as part of our plan for a better, brighter tomorrow,” Liberal leader Zak Kirkup said. 

“Almost one third of West Australians go fishing, with a spend of $2.4 billion per year on fishing-related activities. The recreational fishing sector also creates 13,500 jobs in the WA economy. 

“The Liberals understand the importance of the sector and will invest in the future of recreational fishing by protecting Cockburn Sound, putting more money into fish restocking programs and sustainability initiatives, and creating a dedicated recreational fishing team within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.” 

The Liberals plan includes $12.5 million over five years for fish restocking programs, funding for four artificial reefs at coastal erosion hotspots, and $1 million for safety measures, including improvements to land-based fishing through platforms, jetties and upgraded amenities at key fishing locations. There is also a $4.2 million commitment towards further protection and restoration programs of marine habitats. 

Shadow Minister for Fisheries Libby Mettam said it was a plan for the future that would bolster the recreational fishing sector without jeopardising important fishing stocks and marine playgrounds, such as Cockburn Sound. 

“The Sound, which is known to be the only place pink snapper spawn in the West Coast Bioregion, has already lost 80 per cent of its seagrass meadows, which are vital for helping protect young fish stocks,” Ms Mettam said. 

“Under the McGowan Labor Government, we have seen a plan to build an outer harbour on Cockburn Sound without any real assurance that one of our most significant marine habitats will be protected and maintained. 

“Further to the environmental damage, it will also result in the loss of thousands of jobs from Fremantle Port, a working, thriving port that is nowhere near capacity and is unlikely to be for decades to come. 

“Unlike Labor, the Liberals commitment is about planning for the future while maintaining and preserving what we have today.” 

The Liberals plan for recreational fishing includes: 

  • Increasing the percentage of recreational licence fees that go into the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund from 25 per cent to 50 per cent, thereby doubling the current funding to $4.2 million per year over five years. 
    This funding supports a range of projects across all areas of the state, including in Cockburn Sound, to address degradation of the marine environment and the impact on fishing stocks. 
  • $12.5 million over five years from Royalties for Regions to provide funding for a regional fish restocking program. 
    To grow tourism in regional Western Australia and ensure the ongoing sustainability of recreational fishing stocks, including the following possible locations and species.
    • Carnarvon – Snapper 
    • Denham – Snapper 
    • Mandurah – Blue Swimmer Crabs 
    • Broome/Derby/Kununurra/Lake Argyle – Barramundi 
    • South West – Marron 
    • Albany – Oysters 
    • Geraldton/Midwest – Kingfish/Snapper/Baldchin Groper 
  • $1 million to increase funding to support Recfishwest to deliver recreational fishing safety initiatives.
    Including improving lighting and disabled access to jetties, and improvements to land-based fishing through platforms, jetties and upgraded amenities at key fishing locations. This will also support the work undertaken between Fishability and Recfishwest. 
  • The creation of a dedicated recreational fishing team within the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.
    To place a greater focus on the recreational fishing sector within the department. This will provide support for fishing enhancement programs, help deliver management to maximise fishing experience and provide practical solutions to important sector challenges such as shark depredation. 
  • $12 million to develop four additional artificial reefs at Drummonds Cove, Mandurah, Port Beach and Busselton. Research has shown that artificial reefs are successful at increasing marine habitat at the locations they are deployed and can provide a dual benefit of managing coastal erosion while providing new opportunities for recreational fishing. Maximising multiple benefits will be explored at these key locations.