Herring G-Traps back in action after fish population returns to sustainable levels

Isabel VieiraAlbany Advertiser
Herring is one of Western Australia’s most popular table fish.
Camera IconHerring is one of Western Australia’s most popular table fish. Credit: supplied

Commercial fishers in Albany will be able to use the G-Trap method to catch herring this year after the stock levels along the south coast recovered to a sustainable level.

Albany commercial fishers haven’t been able to operate the G-Trap herring fishery since it was closed in 2015 when research found WA’s herring stocks were depleted.

The fishery was briefly reopened in 2020 before being closed again to allow for further stock recovery.

The Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development’s recent stock assessment found herring populations along WA’s southern coastline have bounced back to sustainable fishing levels enabling the approval of a 70-tonne quota using the G-trap method for 2022.

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The G-Trap is a sustainable fishing method which uses a shallow-water netting system laid close to shore to retrieve herring in a G-shape.

The net design and retrieval method allows the fishers to hand-pick the fish from the net and it minimises risks to other non-target fish species as well as seabirds.

The new fishing program will operate from Cheynes and Bettys beaches along with Trigelow Beach near Bremer Bay until June.

WA Fishing Industry Council chief executive officer Darryl Hockey said the news was welcomed by commercial fishers along the south coast, as well as businesses and many locals.

“This is going to be an interesting project as it will provide commercial fishers with a sense of the market appetite and consumer demand, as well as the potential for value-adding by using local seafood processors,” he said.

“Herring is one of Western Australia’s most popular table-fish species, so locals will welcome increased access to quality fresh fish.”

DPIRD’s assessment indicates the fishery has a sustainable capacity of 667 tonnes per year.

The initial 70-tonne quota will be used to determine market demands and identify additional opportunities.

Mr Hockey said south coast commercial fishers would welcome locals and visitors to come down and watch them operate the G-Trap nets.

“We know there are lots of people who love herring but aren’t fishers, but don’t worry because our commercial fishers are fishing for everybody,” he said.

“Tourists can now purchase a feed of local herring straight off the beach.

“It’s a great opportunity for locals to meet the fishers on the beach, have a chat and buy a bucket of fresh fish directly from the person who catches them.”

Future arrangements will be established by an Australian Herring Resource Management Strategy Working Group with representation from WAFIC and Recfishwest.

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