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Keep coastal safety and your Sea Sense top of mind for the salmon run

Keep coastal safety and your Sea Sense top of mind for the salmon run

05 April 2023

With the Easter break and school holidays upon us, this is a fun-filled time of the year for fishing-keen families to enjoy a south coast or South-West getaway and chase western Australian salmon​ during their annual migration along our State’s coast.

The species’ scientific name is Arripis truttaceus and they are found in cooler southern waters but are also common in waters north of the Perth metropolitan area during winter months. The adult salmon most commonly frequent the clear, shallow waters along surf beaches, rocky reefs and coastal estuaries. However, some schools are found in deeper offshore waters.

Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) researchers and managers are currently finalising the latest resource assessment report for this popular nearshore fish with preliminary indications that stocks in WA are in good shape and are being fished sustainably.  

How far north the western Australian salmon get in their run along our west coast this year will depend on the strengths of the Leeuwin Current and the Capes Current and subsequent water temperatures.

New alerts are available this autumn for rock fishers, through a joint project between Recfishwest and the Bureau of Meteorology, which has been funded by recreational licence fees. Two levels of alerts will be available – orange for hazardous and red for extremely hazardous – when there are high risk conditions that will broadcast through the Recfishwest Facebook and Instagram platforms. 

Recfishwest also have very useful information on safe fishing and a new video about rock fishing on their website at https://recfishwest.org.au/our-services/safefishing/.

Recfishwest Safety Officer Sam Russell has urged fishers to make safety part of every fishing experience and said it was pleasing no major rock fishing incidents had been reported since the beginning of the annual salmon run along the south and South-West coastlines.

“With all of the salmon season safety initiatives in place and our extensive reach in the WA fishing community, in combination with our loan life jacket and angel ring programs, we encourage fishers to make the right choices and look out for each other this autumn,” Mr Russell said. 

“There’s been some great salmon run fishing so far this autumn and while most of the catches have been reported from the south coast throughout March, there have been growing numbers of salmon schools spotted moving into Hamelin Bay and Boranup over the past week, indicating the schools will soon move towards Cape Naturaliste and the South-West regions in coming weeks.

“Many fishers are tipping the salmon schools will potentially reach the Perth metro region, due to a slightly weaker Leeuwin Current that will see the annual run extend up the west coast.”

Just as salmon feed on baitfish close to shore, it’s worth remembering that larger predators are also attracted by the big schools of salmon that can be close to shore. If you’re fishing and you see a shark, call Water Police on 9442 8600 so you can help alert other beachgoers.

DPIRD’s Acting Shark Response Unit Manager, Michael Burke said fishers could play their part helping to keep all water users safe. 

“It’s safer to feel the sand between your toes when you are fishing for western Australian salmon and avoid the risks that come with rock fishing. However, it’s important to think of other beach users and ‘bleed’ your catch away from the water’s edge and dispose of all fish waste (including bait and frames) responsibly to avoid attracting larger marine predators,” Mr Burke said.    

“If you see a Surf Life Saving WA helicopter circling and sounding its siren above the beach you are visiting, leave the water immediately, check the SharkSmart WA app or SharkSmart website, and don’t go back into the water for at least an hour.

“Stay safe and take your Sea Sense with you this Easter and whenever you head for the ocean.” 

Whenever you’re enjoying coastal activities, remember to switch on your Sea Sense, so that ocean safety is top of mind for you. There have been more than 126,000 downloads of the SharkSmart WA app, and if you haven’t added it to your smart phone yet, it is available from the App Store or Google Play to give you near-real time alerts of shark activity and other beach safety information.

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