New recreational rules come into effect for WA demersal fishing


New recreational fishing rules to protect the sustainability of demersal scalefish stocks from Kalbarri to Augusta come into effect from Wednesday, February 1, the Western Australia Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) has confirmed.

The measures have been introduced across the recreational, commercial, and charter sectors to achieve the 50 per cent reduction in the total catch required to recover these popular species, including pink snapper, dhufish, and baldchin groper.

For recreational fishers, the existing two-month fishing closure period has been extended by four months. This will be supported by a range of new measures including a boat limit of four demersal scalefish, gear restrictions and the removal of size limits for WA dhufish, baldchin groper, and breaksea cod, which have high post-release mortality rates.

Recreational fishing from boats and spearfishing for demersal scalefish will be prohibited in the West Coast Bioregion from:

  • February 1 to March 31 (inclusive)
  • August 1 to December 15 (excluding September-October school holidays)

Land-based line fishing for demersal scalefish or fishing on a licensed charter boat will be permitted all year round.

There will also be increased spawning protection and the implementation of the Abrolhos Islands wilderness fishing area regulations to support the recovery.

The WA State Government is also investing $10 million to further assist the sustainability of resource including an extensive education and awareness program, plus expanding the juvenile pink snapper stocking and the state-wide Fish Aggregating Device (FADs) programs.

DPIRD Aquatic Resource Management Director Nathan Harrison said the changes provided a balance between the fishing experience and the management needed to secure the sustainability of these demersal scalefish into the future.

“The timing of the seasonal closures for recreational fishing have been scheduled to allow families to fish for demersal scalefish during all school holiday periods,” Mr Harrison said. “It is important to note that you can still fish from your boat for non-demersal species in the West Coast Bioregion during the closure periods.”

Mr Harrison added that there are plenty of other quality line fishing experiences for non-demersal species that can still be enjoyed year-round such as fishing for tuna, herring, or whiting.

The expansion of the FAD program will also provide more opportunities for fishers to switch their fishing activities towards pelagic species such as mahi mahi, tuna, and billfish.

Further information on the new rules can be found at


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