Fishers call for changes to G-Trap rule

Headshot of Shannon Smith
Shannon SmithAlbany Advertiser
Bryn Westerberg with some herring.
Camera IconBryn Westerberg with some herring. Credit: Laurie Benson/Picture: Laurie Benson, Laurie Benson Albany Advertiser

Albany Seafoods has been unable to use its G-Trap herring fishery for four seasons — and owner Bryn Westerberg is urging the Government to rethink its closure before 2020.

Mr Westerberg, whose family has been fishing herring with the nets for four generations, said another year without the trap had been a huge blow.

The G-Trap fishery was closed in 2015 when research found WA’s herring stocks were depleted.

Albany Seafoods caught 100 tonnes of herring in a season with the traps, but Mr Westerberg said it had applied to catch just 20 tonnes this year.

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“It is still sustainable to 300 or 400 tonne this year and we were only asking for 20 tonne,” he said.

“There are a lot of people that want to eat seafood but don’t want to catch it themselves.

“Next year is when the stocks are meant to be recovered and we are going to want 100 tonnes.”

The current landed commercial catch is 80 tonnes from a number of commercial operations with permits.

Albany Seafoods said it had been offered an exemption to catch five tonnes of herring to supply the Albany Seafood Festival this weekend. “We don’t want to fish under an exemption because there is nothing wrong with the fish stocks,” Mr Westerberg said.

He said the business had been catching small schools of herring at Cheynes Beach with different net systems for the Albany Seafood Festival.

He said without the G-Trap, the business could not get close to the same quality or quantity of fish.

In September, 2017, the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development undertook a five-day workshop to review the latest science on the herring stocks and update its assessment.

The workshop concluded herring stocks were rebuilding but had not yet recovered.

A DPIRD spokeswoman said it was agreed at the workshop the next herring assessment should be undertaken in 2021.

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