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Surf Casting and Angling Club Logo Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.)

Club's Submission on Rottnest Island Draft Management Plan 2002-2007.

23 September 2002

Principal Planning Officer
Rottnest Island Management Plan 2002-2007
Rottnest Island Authority
PO Box 693
Fremantle WA 6959

The Club owns an air conditioned holiday house at Kalbarri which is available for rent to the public and club members at competitive rates

Draft Rottnest Island Management Plan 2002-2007.

This submission on the Draft Rottnest Island Management Plan has been prepared on behalf of the members of the Surf Casting and Angling Club of WA (Inc.) by the Club Secretary, Terry Fuller. The Club's postal address is PO Box 2032, Marmion W.A. 6020, and the secretary can be contacted by telephone on .

The Surf Casting and Angling Club is based in the Perth metropolitan area and has 95 adult and junior members. The club has been in existence since 1952 and its members have fished at Rottnest many times over the past 50 years. The Club's main activities are shore based recreational line fishing and dry casting. As such, our comments are on proposals which affect recreational line fishing from the shore. We leave comments on recreational line fishing from boats to groups which know those issues better than we do.

Shore Based Recreational Line Fishing is Different.

The Club wants to make a clear distinction between shore based recreational line fishing, and other shore based recreational fishing such as collecting shellfish, etc. from the shore, and recreational fishing from boats.

Shore based recreational line fishing targets mobile fish such as tailor, herring, garfish, whiting, mulloway, skipjack trevally, sharks and other similar pelagic species. These fish have seasonal migrations and have seasons when they are present and seasons when they are not present. Many species also regularly move significant distances along the beaches or reefs over a short period.

Shore based catches of other fish species are not very common and would have little, if any impact on resident fish populations, particularly compared to recreational boat fishing and professional fishing which are far more mobile and which can cover the entire area and not just a few tens of metres from the shoreline.

Restrictions to Recreational Line Fishing.

The Plan acknowledges that the level of fishing pressure within the Reserve and the impact of this on fish stock and marine communities is unknown, and says "There is concern that the current recreational fishing management arrangements do not take account of the large number of fishers and constant fishing activity that occurs in the Reserve."

There is no evidence that fish of the type caught by recreational anglers are in any danger of overfishing at Rottnest, or that recreational line fishing from the shore is causing any environmental damage. Indeed, considering that most fish caught are pelagic and seasonal, their abundance at Rottnest is affected by catches in their entire habitats, and these are controlled by Department of Fisheries actions and limits on Recreational and Commercial fishing.

As you may be aware, there are proposals for changes to recreational fishing limits for the West Coast region, and reviews of commercial fishing which have the potential to result in significant changes to fish populations if the right decisions are made.

In recent years, herring have been prolific over and outside their usual ranges, we have had the best west coast tailor season for some years, the best south and lower west coast salmon season for many years, and bream, pink snapper and mulloway are widespread, and with widespread evidence of many juvenile fish. We believe that these results show that current recreational fishing management practices are working, and look forward to the outcome of current reviews of the management of commercial fishing.

Regardless of the decisions made, provision of relatively small sanctuary areas at Rottnest would have little effect on the abundance of these pelagic species. The Club submits that restrictions should not be introduced without adequate research and clear evidence that some action is needed at Rottnest and that the proposed actions will in fact have the desired outcomes for the species concerned.

We submit that there would be little if any impact on the effectiveness of any sanctuary zones if shore based recreational line fishing to one hundred metres from shore was allowed.

Suitability of Coast for Recreational Line Fishing From the Shore.

Not all coastline is suitable for recreational line fishing from the shore for the pelagic species of fish most people want to catch. Some coastline is shallow, some is rocky or reefy, some is weedy, and when these are combined with the swell and wind which is often present, shore based line fishing in some areas is difficult at best and often unrewarding. Successful shore based fishing requires access to the areas where the fish will come through, or come past, in different areas to suit the wind and swell conditions at the time.

The equity of the proposals cannot be measured merely by quoting the percentage of coastline still available for shore based line fishing. Even though this percentage may be high, the areas lost to anglers appear to include some of the most suitable parts of the Island's shore. We believe that far too many of the good areas for shore based line fishing would be lost through being included in the proposed Management Zones.

We believe it is critical that no restrictions are placed on recreational fishing from the shore unless there is both:-

1. clear evidence that these are needed to protect some species or the environment, and
2. the restrictions will actually achieve the protection that is claimed to be required.

The club submits that there is no reason to ban an activity if the impact of that activity is acceptable and sustainable, and thus does not lead to unacceptable changes over the medium to long term.

On this basis, the club objects to proposals which ban recreational line fishing from the shore in the proposed Parker Point to Salmon Point, Salmon Bay, Mary Cove, West End and Little Armstrong management zones.

West End Management Zone.

The Plan's justification for proposing restrictions at West End is based on a study of molluscan species as an indicator and a "suggestion" that the zoogeographic importance of tropical species at Rottnest Island is a general feature not restricted to molluscs. It hypothesises that the southward flowing Leeuwin Current is a reason for the apparent preference of tropical fauna species for West End.

A recent media release from the Department of Fisheries covers research on tropical species of mud crab which have been found as far south as Wilson's Inlet on the South Coast, and concludes that strong Leeuwin Currents during 1999 and 2000, the strongest since 1930, are responsible. Thus other tropical species may well be established on many other locations along the west coast of WA, and the presence of these at Rottnest's West End may not be unique.

The club submits that data on molluscan species alone cannot simply be extended to pelagic and resident fish, and does not justify limiting recreational line fishing from the shore at West End. Far more research is needed before there might be any justification for limits. But even if some species such as molluscs require protection, such protection does not require limiting recreational line fishing from the shore at West End.

Parker Point to Salmon Point, Salmon Bay and Mary Cove Management Zones.

The Plan says that the most diverse coral communities at Rottnest Island are located at the southern end of the Island, in particular at Kitson Point, Salmon Point and Parker Point, and thus proposes bans, including on recreational line fishing from the shore for the entire coast from Parker Point to Kitson Point to protect these coral communities. All research references describing the coral are from 1993 and as far back as 1985, and thus would not cover the impact of the strong Leeuwin Currents in 1999 and 2000, which could mean that there are now many more colonies elsewhere.

There is no evidence that recreational line fishing from the shore is causing any environmental damage to corals or any other species in this or any other area on Rottnest. The Club submits that recreational line fishing from the shore is compatible with the protection that is desired, and could be allowed over the majority of this coastline without any impact. The Club does not object to the existing Parker Point protection area, and would not object to restrictions on some small areas near the most vulnerable coral communities if it can be shown clearly that recreational line fishing from the shore has affected or would affect these.

Little Armstrong Bay Management Zone.

The Plan proposes a no fishing zone in Little Armstrong Bay, to preserve a portion of the Island's northern marine habitats. There is no evidence given that recreational line fishing from the shore is causing or has the potential to cause any environmental damage in this area. More research and data is required.

Banning of Daylight Fishing.

Under the proposed Plan, daylight fishing is banned in some areas near the settlements. The reason stated for this is to avoid possible conflicts between fishing and other uses of these areas, such as swimming.

We submit that a complete ban on daylight fishing is not necessary and is not equitable. A complete ban fails to recognise that there is no reason why the area can't be fished on days or at times or in the places when it is not being used by other people for other purposes. These areas are frequented by families and the ban would prevent people (particularly children and fathers) from fishing while other family members who don't want to fish are nearby doing whatever they want to do.

Fish Activities.

The Plan states that the Island contains numerous examples of unique fish activity including Buffalo Bream algal polygon behaviour and fish cleaning stations; areas where fish visit to have their scales cleaned by other fish. Because there are numerous examples even under current conditions of recreational line fishing, then there is no reason yet to restrict this in the areas where the fish activity occurs.

Distribution of Recreational Fishing.

Any proposals based on the total numbers of fishers or the total effort of recreational line fishing must consider the distribution of this effort over the different areas of the coastline. Areas which get little fishing effort will not be affected very much by that effort. Any restrictions will not benefit that area, and the effect on the overall fish catch on the Island will be nil or negligible.

The Plan acknowledges that recreational fishing is a popular pursuit on Rottnest. For our club members and many others, recreational fishing is the primary reason for going to Rottnest. One aim of the plan should be to preserve or enhance the recreational fishing experience of visitors to the Island, and this cannot be achieved by placing more restrictions on recreational line fishing from the shore.

Such restrictions can seriously affect some individuals who like fishing in isolated or less used areas, and reduce the experience which attracts visitors to the Island.


The club's requirements for accommodation are for simple, affordable and comfortable overnight accommodation with basic cooking, sleeping and ablution facilities. We do not require extras. Some accommodation of this type should be retained.

Exclusion of Commercial Fishing.

The Club supports the exclusion of all commercial fishing within the entire Marine Reserve.

Exclusion of Personal Watercaft.

The Club supports the prohibition of the use of Personalised Powered Watercrafts (for example, Jetskis) within the entire Marine Reserve.

Review of Public Comments on the Plan.

We look forward to a release of the summary of public comments on the Draft Management Plan. The club believes that all public comments received about proposals in the Plan affecting fishing should be reviewed by a group which understands recreational fishing and has contact with the majority of recreational anglers who would use Rottnest.

We believe that Recfishwest, representing all WA recreational anglers, should advise the Rottnest Island Board about the meaning and significance of the public's comments about fishing, and help the Board prepare a new plan which recognises all groups' needs.

Further, we believe that a revised Plan should be made available for a review period before being presented to the Minister for approval, and it should show if and how proposals have been changed in response to public comments.

Club Code of Ethics.

I have enclosed a copy of the Club's Code of Ethics for your information. Please be assured that the members of this Club fully support and actively practice conservation and responsible fishing, and will not argue with any changes which are necessary for the conservation of the environment and marine species. But we ask that the process of deciding those changes be open and equitable and supported by data which is appropriate and relevant to the proposed changes.

Yours sincerely

Terry Fuller, Secretary


Copyright © 2001/2002 Surf Casting and Angling Club of W.A. (Inc.)

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This page last updated 11 October 2002.

Display of this page was updated on 21 January 2013. Contents updated as above.

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