Know the fishing laws

Tim HayterGeraldton Guardian
The laws governing recreational fishing in WA are strict and if caught in breach of these laws you could face a hefty fine.
Camera IconThe laws governing recreational fishing in WA are strict and if caught in breach of these laws you could face a hefty fine. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian

Geraldton is known for its fishing spots, such as the Greenough Rivermouth, Point Moore and Separation Point, to name a few.

However, many recreational fishermen are oblivious to the laws which govern recreational fishing in Western Australia.

General fishing laws include mixed species bag limits, individual species bag limits, boat limits, possession limits and size limits.

The laws are strict, and if caught in breach of them, you could face a fine.

For example, last year a Geraldton fisherman was fined $15,087 and had his recreational fishing boat licence suspended for exceeding bag limits and taking undersized fish.

The fisherman captured 23 demersal finfish, which was 15 more than the boat limit, and he had eight undersize.

In addition to general fishing laws, fishers must be aware of specific laws including marine reserves, restricted areas and closed fishing areas in Geraldton’s bioregion.

Our bioregion, known as the West Coast Bioregion, extends from east of Augusta to north of Kalbarri, and includes the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

Current fish habitat protection areas are the Abrolhos Islands and the Kalbarri Blue Holes.

At Kalbarri Blue Holes, all fishing is prohibited and at the Abrolhos Islands, fishing is not permitted in certain reef observation areas.

The closed season for demersal finfish fishing is prohibited in the West Coast Bioregion from October 15-December 15.

During this period and in this area, both occasional and regular fishers are prohibited from taking or landing demersal finfish including baldchin groper, tuskfish, barramundi, a large variety of cods, coral trout, dhufish, emperors and seabream, foxfish and the red snapper family.

If you catch a demersal finfish, either from shore or from a boat, during the closed season, then you must return it to the water immediately. Fishing restrictions are in place to help to ensure our aquatic resources remain sustainable for future generations.

While bag limits assist in sharing the resource, size limits allow fish to reach maturity to complete their breeding cycle.

Closed seasons are aimed at protecting all demersal species caught in the West Coast Bioregion and are important in assisting with their recovery.

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