Abalone fishing at Ocean Reef

With this Saturday’s abalone fishing session confirmed to proceed, Surf Life Saving WA’s message remains one of caution following an abalone fishing fatality earlier this month.

Weather conditions for this weekend’s third session of the West Coast Zone season, which extends from Busselton Jetty to the Greenough River mouth, have been assessed a “medium risk”.

Surf Life Saving WA (SLSWA) Lifesaving Coordinator Nick Pavy said the forecast conditions, which predicted a rising tide with moderate swell and onshore winds, meant fishers could expect to see large amounts of water moving across the reef.

“Based on our assessment of the forecast conditions, the Department of Primary Industries & Regional Development has confirmed that this weekend’s session will proceed,” said Mr Pavy.

“However, conditions can change, and individuals need to consider their abilities before deciding whether or not they should fish.”

“Just because you have a licence and the session is confirmed, doesn’t mean that you need to fish or that you have the necessary ability to do so safely. There is a high likelihood that if you get into trouble, you will need to be able to swim to survive.”

Recognised as the most dangerous coastal recreational activity in WA, in only two hours of fishing so far this season SLSWA volunteer surf lifesavers have already performed 40 rescues, well above last year’s season total, and administered first aid to 32 individuals.

“For many, abalone fishing is the only time of year they visit the beach, and therefore they may find the conditions more challenging than regular beachgoers,” said Mr Pavy.

“This is when we once again ask people to please consider their own abilities against the conditions on the morning. Just because you have a licence, it doesn’t mean you need to fish.”

While abalone fishing is an inherently dangerous activity, with six fatalities since 2012 in only 34 hours of fishing, SLSWA says there are several behaviours and steps that fishers can observe to improve their safety. These include choosing a location based on their abilities, preferably a patrolled one; dressing appropriately and carrying the correct equipment, and always fishing with friends or family members to keep an eye on each other.

“While each session goes for only one hour, this is ample time to collect your bag limit; there is no need to rush, so stay alert and keep an eye on friends and family members. Our lifesavers are only there as a last resort.”


Surf Life Saving WA will continue to deliver a range of safety services including jet ski, IRB and beach-based patrols across select locations within the zone; however, the message to fishers remains the same, no abalone is worth risking your life for.

Remaining West Coast Zone abalone fishing sessions for the 20/21 season are:

  • Saturday, 23 January 2021
  • Saturday, 6 February 2021
  • Saturday, 20 February 2021

Further abalone fishing location, safety information and resources, including areas where Surf Life Saving WA services will be patrolling, can be found at www.mybeach.com.au/abalone

– ENDS –

In 2019/20 Surf Life Saving WA received a $300,000 Abalone Fisher Safety grant through the WA Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, to be applied to initiatives across the areas of prevention, rescue, education, research and regulation.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Minda Penn, Marketing & Partnerships Coordinator

M: 0408 901 959 | E: media@slswa.com.au | P: 9207 6666