Restaurants and markets on the south coast of Western Australia run out of local seafood this winter as bad weather continues to keep commercial fishermen ashore.
- Rugged weather on the south coast of WA affected the ability of commercial fishermen to supply local markets and restaurants
- Albany’s seafood vendors and restaurants had to truck frozen seafood from Perth to make up for the lack of local fresh fish
- Heavy rains had the positive effect of flushing out estuaries, benefiting some commercial fishermen
Close to the port of Albany, Due South has not been able to stock up on local seafood in the quantities its restaurant patrons have needed for months.
Lack of local supplies forced the restaurant to truck frozen seafood from Perth.
“He spent a day in the truck before it reached us and we don’t know how long he’s been at their facility,” he said.
âSouthern calamari surpasses anything we can buy.
“Bluefin tuna and skipjack are probably the only thing we’ve had whole – and we haven’t seen our guy for a few weeks.”
Albany Boatshed Markets president Brian Davies has also had problems sourcing local seafood.
âThe fishermen are usually pretty regular but with all the storms and all the fresh water it turns things around,â he said.
“Winter from Hell”
The consistent heavy rainfall, freshwater runoff and heavy swells have affected both the working capacity of fishermen and the abundance of target species in the ocean this winter.
Albany commercial squid fisherman Greg Cracknell says he’s never seen anything like it.
Mr. Cracknell found that freshwater runoff in King George Strait “lowers the water temperature by four or five degrees because the water is much cooler than the salt.”
South Seafood Producers WA commercial fisherman and vice president Bryn Westerberg says the impact is spreading throughout the South Coast fishing region.
“Wet anglers [in] Hope, Albany, Augusta [and] to the west coast; there was very little demersal fishing [groundfish] cash, âhe said.
More fish in the sea?
Although he was unable to supply Albany Boatshed markets throughout July – the first weeks he missed in three years – commercial fisherman Gavin Jackman still believes the weather in the south coast is a boon for the industry.
âI think it’s a cycle that we are seeing,â he said.
“We had a lot of rain in the estuaries [which] have not been to sea for four or five years.
“The fish will go up in these estuaries [and] this is a good thing.”
Likewise, Mr Westerberg has responded to the inoperative conditions by working more on his seafood processing business, building new freezers and facilities to export local sardines and salmon directly from his factory in Albany.