5 Principles to rebuild our fisheries

January 10, 2015

After a hard-out year many of us look forward to time on the water catching a fish, sharing that catch with family and friends, and importantly, enjoying the experience with our kids. To achieve success we need fish in the water.

LegaSea has developed 5 Principles to help rebuild our depleted fisheries. If you want our next generations to enjoy abundance please get in behind LegaSea and support these principles –

1. Let’s rebuild the fishery
Adopt international best practice by setting a target stock size of at least 40% of the original stock size that existed prior to modern fishing. We owe it to ourselves and future generations to officially adopt a minimum target of 40%.

2. Stop senseless waste
It’s time to do away with old world fishing techniques that wreak havoc in our fisheries. Remove non-selective and indiscriminate trawling from within the 100m depth contour, to reduce illegal fish dumping, killing small fish and damaging sensitive seafloor ecology.

3. The public owns the fishery
Our fisheries are a national resource and our country ought to derive a royalty from quota holders that exploit them for private profits. This will benefit many commercial fishers, the non-fishing public who buy fish and reduce the incentives to abuse the fishery.

4. Equal size limits for all
It’s just not fair to allow commercial interests to profit from catching and selling smaller sized fish that recreational fishers must return to the sea, dead or alive. Let’s ensure equality and commonsense. We must set minimum size limits for sustainability reasons rather than to give priority to commercial fishers.

5. Value recreational fishing.
Recreational fishing has significant benefits to the economy and these are simply not being measured, valued or considered. LegaSea wants your support to establish how much recreational fishing contributes to the national economy. It will be huge.

Reducing unnecessary waste
Our precious fisheries resources are being wasted every day. Millions of small fish, mostly immature, are killed and discarded every year. We cannot rebuild our fisheries and manage for abundance while this level of juvenile mortality exists.

A common cause of this unnecessary waste is the use inshore of unselective and indiscriminate fishing methods such as trawling. Trawling is a hangover from past centuries. The mortality rate of undersized snapper caught and discarded by trawlers is over 90%. This could equate to as much as 20% of snapper by weight. And unlike recreational fishing, commercial catch is measured in tonnes not numbers, so there are more small fish per tonne of catch.

What can we do to help with the rebuild?
Prior to the 2013 management changes mortality of snapper released by recreational anglers was estimated to be between 3.6 and 7.5% by weight. When fishing this summer please employ best practice techniques, including:

  • Using soft baits or jigs that lip hook fish.
  • When bait fishing, using large baits on large hooks, 7/0 or 8/0s.
  • Using appendage hooks that reduce the capture and gut hooking of small fish.
  • Using circle hooks.
  • Fishing actively, by keeping in touch with your bait or jig to avoid gut hooking.
  • Moving away from areas holding large numbers of small fish.
  • Releasing fish in the water or using a wet, cool surface when handling fish for release.
  • Quickly killing and chilling in ice or slurry any fish being kept for eating.
  • Using the ‘Free Fish Heads’ service to share unwanted heads and frames.
  • For updated tips on smarter fishing techniques visit the FishCare website.