The West

Anglers face cuts to herring limits

Recreational anglers are facing deep cuts to bag limits for herring and the possibility of seasonal closures under changes being considered to ease pressure on the species.

The Barnett Government has been given a report by the Fisheries Department outlining the possible "management actions" that could be taken to cut herring catches.

The report was drawn up after Fisheries conducted a three-year study into herring numbers off WA that showed a worrying decline in herring catches.

Released in November, the report blamed increasing fishing, particularly off Perth, and prompted Fisheries to call for stocks to be safeguarded.

It is believed one major change being canvassed by the Government is slashing the recreational bag limit - set at 30 herring a day - to fewer than 10.

If implemented, the reduction would be much harsher than WA's recreational fishing lobby Recfishwest has indicated it would be happy to accept. Recfishwest has said it would prefer to see bag limits cut to 20 but it would be opposed to anything less than 15.

The Government is believed to want deeper cuts than this because most recreational fishers, who take about half the 300 tonnes of herring caught off WA a year, bag fewer than 10 a day.

Despite suggestions the Government is keen to share any cuts to herring catches equally among recreational and commercial fishers, Recfishwest renewed its call for preferential treatment.

Andrew Rowland, the lobby's chief executive, said herring was one of if not the most important fish species to the sector and it was worth far more to WA when targeted by amateur anglers.

"We accept that we need to be part of meeting the challenge in reducing catches but our preference would be not to lose access at any time," Dr Rowland said.

The WA Fishing Industry Council, which disputes the Fisheries study, has demanded any changes be equitable.

The West Australian

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