The West Coast Purse Seine Fishery mainly captures pilchards (Sardinops sagax) and the tropical sardine (or scaly mackerel) Sardinella lemuru (referred to as sardinella) by purse seine in the West Coast Bioregion.
Smaller catches of Perth herring (Nematalo sa vlaminghi), yellowtail scad (Trachurus novaezelandiae), Australian anchovy (Engraulis australis), maray (Etrumeus teres) and other species are also reported.
This fishery is managed through a combination of input and output controls incorporating limited entry, capacity setting and controls on geartype. Access to the Perth Metropolitan fishery is limited to 12 licences that must fish in accordance with the West Coast Purse Seine Limited Entry Fishery Notice 1989.
Both pilchards and sardinella are the main target species in the Metropolitan fishery. There are three fishing boat licences with a specific condition that permits the taking of fish using a purse seine net that is hauled by the use of a power block within specific waters of the Southern Development Zone.
Two of those fishing boat licences may also retain pilchards. A further three Fishing Boat Licences permit the taking of fish using a purse seine net that is hauled by the use of a power block in the Northern Development Zone and sardinella is the main target species.
Currently, a notional combined Total Allowable Catch (TAC), covering both the Perth metropolitan fishery and the Southern Development Zone, is set for pilchards and another for other small pelagic species.
During 2010-11 the notional TAC for pilchards was 2328 tonnes with a separate TAC of 672 tonnes for the other small pelagic species (including sardinella). This notional TAC had been in place since 2006 and was based on a take of approximately 10 per cent of the total west coast pilchard stock.
The Northern Development Zone has a separate notional TAC. Reaching or exceeding the notional TACs triggers closure of the fishery.
Catches were dominated by sardinella (scaly mackerel, 690 tonnes) with approximately 16 tonnes of pilchards landed. Another 7.5 tonnes of other species were landed, mainly comprising yellowtail scad.
Although fishers would like to move the management of this fishery to an ITQ system, this process has been placed on hold indefinitely by the Department of Fisheries because the catch of pilchards and the effort expended in this fishery has not
returned to normal levels since the second pilchard mass mortality event in 1999.
Depending on priorities, the Department may in the future develop a new management plan for this fishery which will incorporate the Southern and Northern Development zones along with the Perth metropolitan fishery into a single West Coast Purse Seine
Key Species Fished