Fishing

FishingThe vast sea grass paddocks of both Shark Bay and the Exmouth Gulf are extremely fertile breeding grounds for prawns and in Shark Bay for scallops also. Thus the Gascoyne is able to provide most of the State’s prawns and scallops.

From July 2017, the WA Department of Fisheries will be known as the Department of Primary Industry and Regional Development. The new department will take on the responsibility to manage all aspects of the fisheries and maintains data on all facets of the fisheries including fish stocks.

Crabs, snapper, whiting and mullet are also commercially harvested in the region.

Seafood processing is the region’s principal manufacturing activity with factories in Exmouth, Carnarvon and Denham. Several producers supply export as well as local markets.

Aquaculture continues to develop in the Gascoyne with finfish and pearling operations based in the Shires of Exmouth, Carnarvon and Shark Bay.

In 2016, the Gascoyne Development Commission, in conjunction with the Pilbara Development Commission and the WA Department of Fisheries released a series of reports focused on the technical and economic viability of aquaculture within the marine and terrestrial environments of the Pilbara and Gascoyne regions. Included in the reports is a Market Analysis on edible oyster, Yellowfin Tuna, Amberjack and Mahi Mahi production.

Pilbara and  Gascoyne Aquaculture study: The technical and economic viability of Aquaculture within the  marine and terrestrial environments of the Pilbara and Gascoyne Regions, Western Australia.

Pilbara and Gascoyne Aquaculture studies: Market Analysis- Edible Oysters Aquaculture in the Pilbara and Gascoyne Regions of Western Australia.

Pilbara and Gascoyne  Aquaculture Studies -Market Analysis  on edible oysters, Yellowfin Tuna, Amber jack and Mahi Mahi.

Aquaculture Prospects- Finfish species- A study of the commercial feasibility of aquaculture in the Pilbara-Gascoyne regions using a finfish species.

The fishing industry contributed $56.7 million to the Gascoyne economy.

  • In 2014-15 the Gascoyne’s fishing industry generated approximately $43 million, contributing 9% to Western Australia’s total fishing industry value. This was the third highest regional contribution to Western Australia’s total fisheries value (Department of Fisheries 2015a).
  • Prawns constitute the greatest catch by weight and value (2,489 tonnes; $32 million – 74% of the Gascoyne’s fishing value in 2014-15) (Department of Fisheries 2015a).

 

Shark Bay Prawn Managed Fishery (SBPMF)

  • In 2011, the SBPMF was the largest prawn fishery in Western Australia (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities 2013).
  • The SBPMF consists of 18 Licensed Fishing Boats using quad-rig demersal otter trawl gear (2014) (Department of Fisheries 2014b).
  • In 2014, the SBPMF had an estimated annual value of more than $20 million and a target catch range of 1,350 to 2,150 tonnes per annum (Department of Fisheries 2014b).
  • The SBPMF’s primary target species are brown tiger and western king prawns (Department of Fisheries 2014b).

 

Exmouth Gulf Prawn Managed Fishery (EGPMF)

  • The EGPMF reached a maximum of 23 vessels in 1979 (Department of Fisheries 2014a).
  • The EGPMF currently (2014) holds 15 managed fishery licenses (Department of Fisheries 2014a).
  • In 2013, the fleet consisted of six boats using quad-rig demersal otter trawl gear (Department of Fisheries 2014a).
  • In 2014, the Exmouth Gulf prawn managed fishery had an estimated annual value of $7 million. The historic catch range is between 721 and 1410 tonnes per annum (Department of Fisheries 2014a).
  • The EGPMF’s primary target species are brown tiger and western king prawns (with significant catches of blue endeavor prawns during fishing season) (Department of Fisheries 2014a).

 

Shark Bay Scallop Managed Fishery

  • In 2015, the Shark Bay Scallop Managed Fishery was the biggest commercial scallop fishery in Western Australia (Department of Fisheries 2015c).
  • The Shark Bay Scallop Managed fishery value and catches fluctuates on an annual basis and ranges from 121 – 4,414 tonnes and $2 – $68 million [dependent on scallop abundance] (Department of Fisheries 2011).

 

Crabs & Shark Bay Crab (Interim) Managed Fishery (SBCIMF)

  • The Gascoyne’s crab stock was estimated at 478 tonnes in 2014-15, at $5 million in value this represents 12% of the Gascoyne’s fishing industry value (Department of Fisheries 2015).
  • In 2015, the Shark bay crab trap (66%), Shark Bay prawn trawl (33.8%) and the Shark Bay scallop trawl (0.20%) sectors harvest the Shark Bay blue swimmer crab commercially [SBCIMF] (Department of Fisheries 2015b).
  • The capacity (kilogram crab – whole weight) of the SBCIMF for the first licensing period (November 2015 – October 2016) is proposed 450,000 kilograms (still able to be reviewed under additional research) (Department of Fisheries 2015b).

 

Fish

  • The Gascoyne’s fish stock was estimated at 703 tonnes in 2014-15. At approximately $5 million in value this represents 11% of the Gascoyne’s fishing industry value (Department of Fisheries 2015a).

 

Aquaculture

  • The Gascoyne’s aquaculture industry makes up 8.5% of Western Australia’s value, the third highest regional contribution in Western Australia (Department of Fisheries 2015a).
  • The value production of pearls (maxima) contributed 98% of the Gascoyne’s aquaculture production in 2014-15 (Department of Fisheries 2015a).

Please download a Gascoyne Fishing and Aquaculture Investment Profile  published in 2016

Western Australian estimated fishing catch for the 2011-2012 period was 17,374 tonnes at a value of $265,512.00. In the Gascoyne the estimated fishing catch for the same period was recorded at 3,674 tonnes with an estimated market value of $38,384.00.