A study funded by the State Government through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund (RFIF) has revealed that anglers targeting Western Australia's abundant schools of migrating salmon contribute about $331 million to the State's economy each year.
Premier Mark McGowan, Fisheries Minister Peter Tinley and Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland released the report this week to coincide with the announcement of a series of salmon-related fishing events along the south-west and southern coast this autumn.
Schools of migrating Australian salmon - not to be confused with the pink-fleshed Atlantic salmon - attract significant numbers of fishers to WA's South-West and Great Southern beaches.
The survey commissioned by Recfishwest revealed that fishers spent an average of $460 per trip and stayed an average of 3.5 days while enjoying the thrill of the salmon chase.
The study, the first of its kind to look at a specific species, sought to determine the economic value of recreational salmon fishing by assessing what fishers spent on goods and services such as fuel, bait, fishing gear, food, drinks, accommodation, camping gear and clothing.
It found $75 million is spent each salmon run on underpinning local businesses, such as bait and tackle dealers, with a further $89 million generated for local tourism providers.
Premier Mark McGowan said the study showed just how important recreational fishers were to the State economy.
"We can see the $331 million contributed annually by recreational salmon beach and boat fishers provide a big boost to local businesses and jobs throughout the Great Southern and South-West of WA," he said.
"It is also very encouraging to note that three out of every four salmon caught are released and provide future generations with the opportunity to enjoy this iconic WA fishing experience."
Recfishwest has launched the Awesome Autumn of Salmon, which includes the Salmon Slam 2020 - a three-month long salmon fishing competition open to anglers of all ranges and abilities who download a specially developed free app with the chance to win prizes.
Albany will host the Salmon Spectacular - a free three-day family fishing competition over the Easter weekend.
In addition, Recfishwest will be running its popular annual Great Southern Salmon Campout at Cheynes Beach (March 27-29) with a series of salmon fishing teach-ins from some of the leading experts in the game, as well as the chance to chase big salmon schools along one of the State's most spectacular beaches.
Recfishwest CEO Andrew Rowland said the State Government's recognition of the value of the salmon migration would help in ensuring fish stocks were protected.
"Fishing for one of the world's best and most accessible sportfish - the mighty West Aussie salmon - off some of the world's best beaches, is one of the truly iconic WA fishing experiences enjoyed by tens of thousands WA fishing families every year.
"It's that abundance of these fish that means WA salmon on average are bigger than anywhere else in Australia and ensures such exciting fishing experience which keeps fishers coming back every autumn.
"The fact that the study also showed that salmon fishers release three out of four fish they catch further underpins that abundance.
"We think being able to take part in this amazing fishing experience every year is something worth celebrating and that's why we and the WA recfishing community are going to celebrate salmon this year like never before through the Awesome Autumn of Salmon."
Australind-based fisher and tackle store owner, Ben White said, "The salmon run is very important for our business, in a short period of time the store is swamped with customers, spending big on bait, hooks lures et cetera.
"I'm not surprised by the amount West Aussies spend on salmon, we see it in the shop every year during the run, people from Perth who are happy to travel down and chase salmon.
"We only see them once a year but when they come down, they are happy to spend big. We are excited for what this salmon season will bring, with all the events planned for this autumn".
More information about the Awesome Autumn of Salmon events can be found at www.recfishwest.org.au/salmon
The Salmon Slam 2020 app can be downloaded on Android Google Play store and on iOS devices from the App store.