22nd March 2022
Recent stock assessments by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) have shown herring stocks along Western Australia’s south coast have recovered to sustainable fishing levels, allowing for the approval of a 70-tonne quota for 2022, using the G-trap method to optimise the supply for human consumption.
G-trap is a sustainable way to fish for herring that uses a shallow-water netting system which is laid close to shore and retrieved into a G-shape. The net design and retrieval method allows the fishers to hand-pick the fish from the net with no risks to by-catch or non-target species, which can be then released with little to no physical interaction. The fishing method also minimises risks to other species, including flesh-footed Shearwater and other seabirds.
The assessment indicates the fishery has a sustainable capacity of 667 tonnes per year, so catches will safely remain well within the sustainable limits. The initial catch of 70 tonnes will be used as a trial to determine food market demands and identify additional value-adding and employment opportunities.
WA Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) chief executive officer, Darryl Hockey said the news has been welcomed by commercial fishers along the south coast, as well as businesses and many locals. “This is going to be an interesting project as it will provide commercial fishers with a sense of the market appetite and consumer demand, as well as the potential for value-adding by using local seafood processors.” “Herring is one of Western Australia’s most popular table fish species, so locals will welcome increased access to quality fresh fish. Darryl said south coast commercial fishers will welcome locals and visitors to come down and watch them operate the G-trap nets, as it is a great way to see first-hand how sustainable fishing works. “We know there are lots of people who love herring but aren’t fishers, but don’t worry because our commercial fishers are fishing for everybody, so tourists can now purchase a feed of local herring straight off the beach. “It’s a great opportunity for locals to meet the fishers on the beach, have a chat and buy a bucket of fresh fish directly from the person who catches them,” Darryl said.
For 2022 the new program will operate from three beaches - Cheynes Beach, Trigelow Beach and Bettys Beach – between now and the end of June – after which the Minister will establish an Australian Herring Resource Management Strategy Working Group with representation from WAFIC and Recfishwest to advise over future arrangements.
Recfishwest has provided its conditional support for the G-trap proposal, recognising the local importance of human consumption supplies and minimising recreational fishing impacts. It also supports a formal review process to plan a long-term future for herring once the exemption expires on 30 June 2022.