The vital message for people planning to take part in abalone fishing in the West Coast Zone (WCZ) recreational fishing season on Saturday, January 23, 2021 is the need to be a strong swimmer with good water skills, as forecast conditions have a medium risk rating.
Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) provides a recommendation to the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD) based on a forecast weather assessment that uses the best available information on ocean and weather conditions from multiple sources.
The assessment rates the risk for factors, such as wind speed, swell, tide and swell period between 7am to 8am for this Saturday's abalone fishing.
Based on the recommendation, DPIRD has determined the fishing session will proceed. However, caution will be the key and all licensed abalone fishers taking part will need to assess the ocean conditions and their own skill level and reconsider taking part, if their skill level is inadequate for those conditions.
The main concern for this third session of the WCZ abalone season is the higher than desirable tide, which is being forecast. SLSWA says this will increase the amount of water on top of reef platforms, increasing the number of fishers who will be snorkelling and increasing the obscurity of reef edges and holes.
Compared to the last session, the SLSWA predicts the chance of a secondary swell train and on-shore winds may have a similar effect at times and in certain locations to the ground swell that was experienced on January 9, 2021.
Licensed abalone fishers who plan to take part in the WCZ fishing session, between Moore River and the Busselton Jetty only, will still need to make their own evaluation of the sea and weather conditions on the day to ensure they have the water skills to manage them. It is very important that participants also have suitable clothing and gear for abalone fishing.
DPIRD senior management officer Rhiannon Jones has urged fishers to heed the safety messages and make a considered personal assessment before taking part this weekend.
"No abalone is worth a life, so safety is a key priority for the department. SLSWA volunteers will be there to monitor the abalone fishing hours and focus on the safety of fishers, but please don't take risks beyond your skill level, which will put those life savers at risk," she said.
"DPIRD compliance officers will be out and about at abalone fishing locations within the WCZ, to check that the fishing rules, which help this fishery sustainable, are being adhered to."
More on the abalone fishing rules is available online in the Abalone Recreational fishing guide 2020/21. See SLSWA's safety tips at: mybeach.com.au/safety-rescue-services/coastal-recreation/abalone/