Call for Cottes­loe fish pow­ers

Western Suburbs Weekly - - John Xxiii College Turns 40 - By JON BASSETT

COTTES­LOE Fish Habi­tat Pro­tec­tion Area (CFHPA) founders say the Town’s rangers need re-arm­ing with hon­orary fish­eries of­fi­cers’ (HFOS) pow­ers to pro­tect the com­mu­ni­tyestab­lished marine sanc­tu­ary.

“We fought hard for the rangers to have the pow­ers when the area was es­tab­lished, and the rangers were very ea­ger, and they en­joyed look­ing af­ter the marine en­vi­ron­ment,” CFHPA co­founder Ken Mac­in­tyre said.

In 2001, an­thro­pol­o­gists Dr Mac­in­tyre and Bar­bara Dob­son, with about 500 sup­port­ers in­clud­ing Cottes­loe MLA Colin Bar­nett and Curtin MHR Julie Bishop, lob­bied the coun­cil for the CFHPA that runs about 4km up to 800m off­shore of the town.

It pro­tects habi­tat for the rare leafy sea dragon, sea cu­cum­bers and sponges once found in Cock­burn Sound, and has four moor­ing buoys to stop an­chors dam­ag­ing the ecosys­tem where lo­cal laws ban spear­guns, gidgees and shore fish­ing for sharks.

Drs Mac­in­tyre and Dob­son said rangers ini­tially had Depart­ment of Fish­eries train­ing to re­port and po­lice il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity, in­clud­ing tem­po­rary con­fis­ca­tion of tackle and equip­ment.

Dr Dob­son said a re­cent spate of shore fish­ing for sharks war­ranted the coun­cil res­ur­rect­ing rangers’ marine pow­ers that may have lapsed when those ini­tially trained left the coun­cil.

“They could have made a dif­fer­ence by go­ing up and say­ing to the shark fish­er­men the coun­cil had a by­law, and ed­u­cat­ing peo­ple about it,” Dr Dob­son said.

At last week’s coun­cil meet­ing, staff’s an­swers to Cr Sally Pyvis’ ques­tions said the rangers’ fish­eries pow­ers were not re­moved but their re­in­state­ment would need in­ves­ti­ga­tion and dis­cus­sions with the Depart­ment of Fish­eries (DOF).

Yes­ter­day, DOF re­gional man­ager Tony Cap­pel­luti said rangers could be­come HFOS but ap­point­ments were strictly man­aged be­cause they had full fish­eries of­fi­cer pow­ers, but they could be re­stricted to just marine parks or reef pro­tec­tion ar­eas.

HFOS get a week’s train­ing for a two-year ap­point­ment that is re­viewed at its ex­piry, but full-time fish­eries of­fi­cers have 12 weeks of ini­tial train­ing, and are su­per­vised un­til be­ing as­sessed on be­ing able to do their jobs with­out over­sight.

Cottes­loe Coun­cil was un­able to re­ply be­fore dead­line.

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