Fisheries cast wide net for pink snapper breaches

Midwest Times
The 20-metre patrol vessel Houtman.
Camera IconThe 20-metre patrol vessel Houtman. Credit: Southerly Designs

Fisheries officers have been inspecting commercial and recreational fishing boats as far as 70 nautical miles off the Gascoyne coast using the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development Patrol Vessel Houtman.

The week-long operation from July 29 to August 6, deployed the 20-metre PV Houtman and smaller craft using it as a base.

A DPIRD spokesman said Operation Applehaven showed the majority of fishers were doing the right thing and sticking to the rules.

“Some offences were detected that are still being investigated,” he said.

“One offence, detected 60 nautical miles offshore from Carnarvon, identified the possession of small numbers of undersize pink snapper and is being followed up by compliance officers.

“With last year’s reduction in commercial quotas and the introduction of a seasonal closure, it was timely to check adherence to the new pink snapper rules now in place in the region.”

DPIRD regional manager Mick Kelly said Fisheries officers would use various monitoring strategies to oversee the three-month season closure each year over June, July and August.

“Fishers must not have any pink snapper on-board their vessels while they are fishing in that zone throughout the time the seasonal closure is in place,” he said.

“The purpose of the new Gascoyne fishing rules is to assist recovery of oceanic pink snapper and the annual closure zone covers about four per cent of the waters traditionally fished in the Gascoyne.

“It’s a spawning area for pink snapper during their peak winter spawning season and sustainability of the species depends on how successful regeneration is to support the pinkies.”

Mr Kelly said special patrols, like Operation Applehaven, would continue to be part of the compliance strategy.

Anyone who suspects illegal fishing in the zone is urged to call FishWatch, 1800 815 507.

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