Fish­ers fear ef­fect of port on snap­per

Weekend Courier - - Front Page -

ANY ef­fects of a new port on re­bound­ing pink snap­per stocks has some recre­ational fish­ers wor­ried, should Fre­man­tle Port be com­ple­mented by a new outer har­bour near Hen­der­son, Cock­burn Sound.

“Do you re­alise that’s where the snap­per breed be­tween the Aus­tralian Marine Com­plex AMC in Hen­der­son and the bulk han­dling fa­cil­ity south, and you’re go­ing to de­stroy that?” snap­per fisher John Don­nelly said at a pub­lic meet­ing about any new port in Kwinana.

Pink snap­per are slow-grow­ing and their pop­u­la­tions are thought to be vul­ner­a­ble to boom and bust breed­ing years.

As a re­sult, the Sound has an an­nual closed sea­son be­tween Oc­to­ber and Fe­bru­ary and the Depart­ment of Fish­eries stud­ies the pop­u­la­tion us­ing donated skele­tons, but a spokesman said it was not pos­si­ble to com­ment on the port be­cause its lo­ca­tion, size, op­er­a­tions and tim­ing had not been de­ter­mined.

The State Gov­ern­ment’s West­port Task­force is do­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the freight and lo­gis­tics needs of Perth and the South West, in­clud­ing any new har­bour and its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, be­fore a re­port at the end of next year.

Task­force com­mu­nity ref­er­ence group mem­ber and recre­ational fish­ing lobby Rec­fish­west may have to com­ment on dif­fer­ent snap­per breed­ing sites each year and the im­pact of any mooted new 22.5m-deep ship­ping chan­nel for the port’s two po­ten­tial lo­ca­tions, both of which are about 2km from some snap­per ag­gre­ga­tions.

“The breed­ing varies in dif­fer­ent parts of the sound de­pend­ing on the con­di­tions, but our con­cern will be on how any de­vel­op­ment will im­pact the near-shore fish­ing ex­pe­ri­ences of fish­ers, in­clud­ing those on rock walls and in kayaks and dinghies,” Rec­fish­west op­er­a­tions man­ager Ley­land Camp­bell said.

At the pub­lic meet­ing, 360 En­vi­ron­men­tal di­rec­tor Michelle Rhodes said sea­grasses, vi­tal for nurs­ing fish, had in­creased in eight lo­ca­tions in the sound and de­creased at three spots, in­clud­ing nearby Wood­man Point, af­ter an over­all 77 per cent de­crease in the habi­tat un­til 1999.

An­swer­ing fish­ers’ con­cerns, Task­force chairwoman Ni­cole Lock­wood said while any chan­nel’s depth would be part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into port lo­ca­tions and op­er­a­tional needs, the Task­force was aware of the Sound’s en­vi­ron­men­tal sen­si­tiv­ity.

Fish­er­men are wor­ried about threats to pink snap­per stocks.

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