Stock assessment confirms WA Salmon not at threat on South Coast

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s (DPIRD’s) latest ‘health check’ on Western Australian salmon stocks shows the large pelagic finfish continues to be at sustainable levels, thanks to the management measures in place.

The new scientific stock assessment shows there is a high level of adult fish that annually undertake their westward migration to spawn in WA.

The stock level ensures future generations of the species are produced annually, before the Leeuwin Current disperses their eggs and larvae into protected coastal nurseries.

WA salmon are relatively long-living, have been known to grow to one metre in length and weigh more than nine kilograms, but the average salmon caught would generally be five kilograms or less.

Salmon is also an important resource for commercial fishing operations on the South Coast, where it is also not at threat.

DPIRD Senior Fisheries Scientist Rodney Duffy said the latest stock assessment, which is available here, had indicated a low risk to the sustainability of WA salmon.

“The salmon run along the West Coast can vary from year to year,” he said.

“How far north they get in autumn always depends on the strengths of the Leeuwin Current and the Capes Current and subsequent water temperatures.

“From our stock assessment, the current risk level for the species has been rated as low on the overall weight of evidence, which indicates the current management settings are maintaining risk at an acceptable level.

“The health of the stock means that, even if there is a moderate increase in catch, the species would still maintain a risk level of medium or less,” he added.

WAFIC’s Senior Operations Manager, Graeme Baudains noted that the numbers of salmon have been in very low numbers along the traditional fishing beaches of the south coast and capes areas.  However, South Coast fishers have recently seen large numbers of the species schooling offshore.

The next WA salmon assessment will be carried out in four years, using catch returns from commercial fishers, recreational fishing data, plus size and age structure of the stock over two consecutive years, to help our scientists assess the impact of fishing on the species.

WA salmon remain sustainable and not at risk along the South Coast according to the latest stock assessment.

Photo courtesy SLSWA and DPIRD