A number of species that are found in Western Australian waters are protected under the Fish Resources Management Act 1994 (FRMA) and must not be taken by fishers.
Although some species are protected because populations have become threatened or endangered, this is not true for all protected species. Some fish (for example stingrays) are protected because of the unique social value they provide to local communities.
Under sections 46, 47 and 48A of the FRMA, it is against the law to take, possess, sell, purchase, consign or bring into the State or into WA waters any protected fish species – penalties may apply.
Any protected species that are caught must therefore be returned to the water immediately.
Protected species are divided into categories.
No one can fish for these species. Some examples of totally protected fish in Western Australia include:
These species may not be taken for commercial purposes. Some examples of commercially protected fish include:
All freshwater aquatic organisms other than sooty grunter and catfish of the Family Ariidae.
These species may not be taken by recreational fishers. Some examples of recreationally protected fish include:
All totally protected, commercially protected or recreational protected fish are listed in the Fish Resources Management Regulations 1995, Schedule 2, Part 1, 2 and 3.
Fish and other marine species (for example whales, dolphins, sea lions and turtles) may also be protected under other State legislation (e.g. the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 administered by the Department of Parks and Wildlife) or Commonwealth legislation (e.g. the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment).