September 25, 2012
The future of fishing in Western Australia looks brighter after the State Government pledged more than $110,000 to help increase the knowledge of juvenile dhufish.
More than $450,000 has already been put into fisheries research along the West Australian coast in the past year.
Recent studies indicate that dhufish are being overfished largely because of the quality of the meat.
This led to a two-month ban being implemented on all bottom-dwelling fish from mid October to mid December.
Not much is known about the early lives of dhufish, however research began in 2009 with a $225,000 grant.
Since then $300,000 has been added to help with monitoring the species that is only found along the Western Australian coast.
It is estimated that more than 165 tonnes of dhufish were caught in 2010, with more than half of that being caught by recreational fishers.
Recfishwest regional policy officer Ellen Smith said that dhufish numbers were on the rise.
“Recfishwest advocated for the protection time which lasts for two months, and we also advocated for the use of release weights, which are now compulsory, and we have seen numbers increase since both of those were introduced,” Ms Smith said.
Ms Smith also said that anglers targeted dhufish because of the taste.
“Dhufish are the prized species for anglers and have a beautiful taste and fight hard,” she said.
“At the same time, we encourage anglers to target other species such as mahi mahi and skippy which also put up a great fight.”
Ms Smith said that both recreational and commercial fishermen were to blame for overfishing.
“It is a combination of the two,” she said.
“The public is becoming better informed now, so we have seen [fish] numbers begin to rise.”
Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said that monitoring the species was vital.
“Given their iconic status and stock vulnerability it is critical to develop stock assessment models,” he said.
“Ongoing research is necessary to achieve this outcome.”
A state-wide Recreational Boat Fishing Survey was conducted from January 2011 to February 2012 and the results will be available in early 2013.