The Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Fishery encompasses commercial and recreational (line) fishing for demersal scalefish in the continental shelf waters of the Gascoyne Coast Bio region.

Since 1 November 2010, the Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Managed Fishery (GDSF) has incorporated the pre-existing pink snapper quota system from the Shark Bay Snapper Managed Fishery (SBSF) plus the previously open access area south of Coral Bay.
Commercial vessels in these waters historically focussed on the oceanic stock of pink snapper (Chrysophrysauratus) during the winter months.

The GDSF licensed vessels fish throughout the year with mechanised handlines and, in addition to Pink snapper, catch a range of other demersal species including Goldband snapper (Pristipomoides multidens), Rosy snapper (P. filamentosus), Ruby snapper (Etelis carbunculus), Red emperor (Lutjanus sebae), emperors (Lethrinidae), including Spangled emperor, (Lethrinus nebulosus), and Redthroat emperor, L. miniatus), cods (Epinephelidae) including Rankin cod, (Epinephelus multinotatus) and Goldspotted rockcod, (E. coioides), Pearl perch (Glaucosoma burgeri), Mulloway (Argyrosomus japonicus), Amberjack (Seriola dumerili) and trevallies (Carangidae).

A limited number of licensed charter vessels and a large number of recreational vessels fish out of Denham, Carnarvon and around the Ningaloo area (Gnaraloo Bay, Coral Bay, Tantabiddi and Exmouth) and catch a similar range of demersal species.

The GDSF Management Plan 2010 (the Plan) was implemented on 1 November 2010 and incorporated the ‘open-access’ wetline fishing operations that were previously undertaken in waters between 2334’S and 2307’30“S.

Pink snapper within the GDSF are managed through the use of output controls based on an Individual Transferable Quota system. The ‘quota-year’ for pink snapper runs from 1 September to 31 August, with a total of 5142 units in the fishery.

Commercial fishers are required to hold at least 100 units of pink snapper entitlement to be able to operate within the fishery – a requirement carried over from the Shark Bay Snapper Management Plan 1994.

Demersal scalefish other than pink snapper are currently managed using an interim effort cap of 30 days per 100 units of pink snapper quota which restricts total fishing effort and is applied as a non-transferable licence condition.

WAFIC and licensees are currently consulting with the Department of Fisheries to develop a dedicated non-Pink snapper demersal scalefish entitlement system.

The Gascoyne Demersal Scalefish Management Plan 2010 was implemented on 1 November 2010, superseding the Shark Bay Snapper Management Plan 1994.

This Plan allows the Department of Fisheries to manage all demersal scalefish stocks in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion. The first pahse of the plan has already been implemented and includes a formal entitlement system, in the form of individual transferable quota, for Pink snapper.

A second form of formal entitlement that will explicitly regulate the take of all other demersal scalefish species is scheduled for implementation in 2015.

All commercial fisheries in the Gascoyne Coast Bioregion, including the GDSF, underwent Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) pre-assessment in 2013 and there is a strong push for the GDSF to go for full MSC certification in the near future.

Latest figures show the fishing fleet of about 16 vessels – each employing 2-3 crew in addition to the skipper – focus on Pink snapper during the peak season and fish in deeper waters offshore for other species at other times of the year.

Commercial fishing and associated fish processing are important sources of local employment in Denham and Carnarvon.

Key Species Fished

Goldband Snapper
Spangled Emperor
The Pink Snapper
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