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Prized fish species back on menu

Zach RelphSouth Western Times

Anglers can again target prized fish species such as dhufish and pink snapper after the two-month West Coast Bioregion demersal ban is lifted tomorrow.

The annual closure, which has been enforced since October 17, prohibited recreational fishers from keeping any sized demersal species.

Atleast five infringement fines and two infringement warnings were issued to anglers in possession of demersal species during the ban.

“Compliance with the demersal closure generally appears to be high and well supported by recreational fishers,” Department of Fisheries strategic compliance manager Phil Shaw said.

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“Continued patrols to carry out land and sea inspections have created a deterrent and contributed to the relatively low offence figures for the closure.”

The West Coast Bioregion extends from Zuytdorp Cliffs, north of Kalbarri, to Black Point, east of Augusta.

It is implemented each year to protect demersal species which are vulnerable from October to December when grouping together to reproduce.

Department principal management officer Martin Holtz said the closure guaranteed the future of the State’s demersal stocks.

“A 2007 stock assessment found that stocks of demersal scalefish species in the West Coast Bioregion were being overfished,” Mr Holtz said.

Dhufish and pink snapper – WA’s two most sought-after demersal species – have respective bag limits of one fish per angler and two fish per angler.

In addition to individual bag limits, per-vessel maximums only allow two legal-sized dhufish per boat.

Bunbury and Districts Power Boat Club commodore Harley Kemp said many fishers would be eager to catch demersal species this weekend.

“I definitely think there will be quite a few people out, especially on Saturday because the weather looks good,” Mr Kemp said.

“I’ll definitely be out there on Saturday, that’s for sure.”

Mr Shaw confirmed department officers would conduct random bag checks in the region to ensure anglers were abiding by size and bag limit rules.

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