Abalone fishing

Ocean coastline with rocks and reef where abalone may be found

With thousands of recreational fishers, or ‘recfishers’, expected to descend on WA’s coastal waters for the abalone season, safety is the number-one concern.

The popular pastime can often be fraught with danger for the inexperienced or unprepared, particularly for interstate or overseas visitors who aren’t familiar with the local water conditions. Each year, several rescues take place and, sadly, fatalities have also occurred in the past.

Recent changes – such as moving fishing days to Saturdays when more Surf Life Saving patrols are available, and the ability to postpone sessions due to adverse weather conditions – have seen a decrease in the number of rescues. To keep this number to a minimum, fishers must remain vigilant.

Fishers can help to avoid incidents by being adequately prepared and ensuring they have the necessary equipment to fish safely.

Recommended equipment

  • Mesh abalone bags
  • Long-sleeve wetsuit
  • Mask and snorkel
  • Gloves and reef shoes
  • Abalone tool
  • Lifejacket, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer!

Planning ahead

Decide who you’ll be going with. It’s best to fish for abalone with someone else to help keep an eye out for you. Rope someone in as your fishing buddy and you can watch out for each other.

Ensure you obtain a Recreational Fishing Licence, or if you have one, check that it is still valid. Licences must be presented if requested by officials.

Familiarise yourself with the abalone fishing rules in place such as size restrictions, shucking rules, bait bans and bag limits.

Check the weather conditions before heading out. As the wind picks up, so does the risk level. The allotted fishing hour may even be postponed if conditions are deemed too severe by authorities.

Are you getting to your fishing spot by boat?

Those using a powered boat to reach their fishing spot must have a valid Recreational Fishing from Boat Licence to take part on the specified fishing days.

There are also extra safety precautions that need to be carried out by boaters. So make sure everyone on board knows how to use any safety equipment, and be sure to tick off your boating equipment checklist at the link below before you go.

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