Commercial fishers use a combination of gill nets and beach seine nets to target a large number of finfish species in nearshore waters of the West Coast Bioregion.
The Cockburn Sound (Fish Net) Managed Fishery uses haul nets in Cockburn Sound. The main target species are southern garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir) and Australian herring (Arripis georgianus).
The South West Coast Salmon Managed Fishery operates on various beaches south of the metropolitan area. This fishery uses beach seine nets, to take western Australian salmon (Arripis truttaceus).
The West Coast Beach Bait Managed Fishery operates on various beaches from Moore River (north of Perth) to Tim’s Thicket (south of Mandurah).
The South West Beach Seine Fishery operates on various beaches from Tim’s Thicket southwards to Port Geographe Bay Marina. These seine net fisheries both target whitebait (Hyperlophus vittatus), but blue sprat (Spratelloides robustus), sea mullet (Mugil cephalus), yellowfin whiting (Sillago schomburgkii), southern garfish and yelloweye mullet (Aldrichetta forsteri) are also taken in small quantities.
A number of commercial beach net fishers currently operate outside the metropolitan area under an Exemption that allows them to fish in the waters of the West Coast Demersal Scalefish (Interim) Managed Fishery. These fishers mainly use beach seine nets to target sea mullet, mulloway (Argyrosomus hololepidotus), Australian herring, yellowfin, whiting and southern garfish.
Commercial – Estuarine
The West Coast Estuarine Managed Fishery (WCEF) operates in the Swan-Canning and Peel-Harvey estuaries, and in the Hardy Inlet. It is a multi-species fishery targeting blue swimmer crabs (Portunus armatus) and numerous finfish species.
The methods used by commercial fishers to target finfish in West Coast Bioregion estuaries are gillnets and seine nets.
Five operators fish the Vasse-Wonnerup Estuary and Toby Inlet. The latter estuary system is only occasionally fished, yielding small quantities of sea mullet. These estuaries are not included in the WCEF management plan.
The West Coast Bioregion nearshore and estuarine commercial fisheries are managed primarily by restricting numbers and gear, size limits and through seasonal, time and area closures. Finfish fishing methods are gillnets, seine nets and haul nets.
The Department of Fisheries is in the process of consulting with Recfishwest, the Western Australian Fishing Industry Council and relevant licence holders regarding management responses to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Australian herring stock.
The West Coast Estuarine Management Plan came into effect in July 2014 and it incorporated Hardy Inlet into the Fishery. It also formalised fishery management arrangements and strengthened access rights for licence holders in the Fishery.
Both the West Coast nearshore and estuarine fisheries and the Peel-Harvey Estuary have undergone pre-assessment for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification and the sea mullet and blue swimmer crab fisheries within the Peel-Harvey Estuary are currently in the process of seeking full MSC assessment and certification.
Commercial – nearshore
In 2013, there was only 1 licensee operating in the Cockburn Sound (Fish Net) Managed Fishery employing 2 fishers per month. Fish caught in this fishery supply restaurant and retail sectors in the Perth metropolitan area.
In 2013, there were 2 licensees (involving up to 10 fishers) operating within the West Coast Salmon Fishery during the western Australian salmon season. Between six and 30 commercial fishers per month were employed in various fisheries targeting Australian herring during 2013. Australian herring and western Australian salmon fishers in the West Coast Bioregion supply local bait and human consumption markets.
Commercial – estuarine
In 2013, an average of 14 commercial fishers per month worked the estuaries of the West Coast Bioregion, largely supplying fresh fish to meet demand for locally-caught product.