Arron Wood

Sustainable Business and Education Leader

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Sustainable Fishing for sport and recreation

There are now so many pressures on our oceans including over fishing, pollution, climate change and coral bleaching, degradation of coastal vegetation, loss of fish breeding grounds such as mangrove forests and yet marine parks cover less than 4% of our ocean area.

Australia's marine plants and animals are extremely diverse and there are many more species of animals in the ocean than our land species. We have more than 5000 species of fish, 48 species of mammals, 6 species of turtles, 110 species of sea bird and 500 corals. Between 80 and 90 percent of many groups are not found anywhere else in the world.

Over fishing and by catch (where nets catch the wrong and endangered species) are harming the sustainability of our marine life – 70% of world’s population rely on fish as their main source of protein, but 70% of the worlds fisheries can’t sustain an increase in fishing (they are at their sustainable limit).

So it really is time to think about how we can fish more sustainably.

We can use steel hooks instead of aluminum and Enviro-sinkers (not lead) which break down over time.  For sporting competitions you can now use circle hooks so it is much easier to release fish once measured and photographed.

Another great way to minimize injury to fish you don’t intend to eat is to use ‘Brag Mats’. Fish are put on the mat, photo taken and then released.

You should get as much information as possible on the national code of practice for recreational and sportfishing and information on how to release fish for best chance of survival.  You can visit State-specific sites such as http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/fisheries/recreational-fishing/recreational-fishing-guide/responsible-fishing-behaviours

Instead of standard fishing line you can use bioline which breaks down in water over time using the same technology as dissolvable stitches to leave only water and CO2 as by product. Bioline degrades within 5 years whereas normal line has a life of over 600 years. Virtually every yard of modern fishing line that has ever been lost is still out there; buried in sediment, hung up on snags or circling the ocean. You can visit http://www.biolinefishing.com/ for more information.

Why not get your sports fishing tournament rated?  Anyone who is interested in sustainable fishing should look up http://www.neatfish.com/ for more information on the environmental standard. Fishing tournaments can be rated on a 1 to 5 star basis based on their environmental, social and economic performance.  High rating tournaments receive benefits from sponsors and insurance agencies as well as recognition from government as to their environmental credentials as we strive to encourage sustainable fishing practices in recreational fishing tournaments.

Above all it is vital that we respect bag limits, fish size limits and respect marine parks.  For all the information you need on sportfishing visit the Australian National Sportfishing Association website https://ansa.com.au/  or again you can visit State-specific information such as http://agriculture.vic.gov.au/fisheries/recreational-fishing/recreational-fishing-guide/catch-limits-and-closed-seasons

If you love to get out there and catch a fish lets make sure our kids can do the same in years to come by learning to fish sustainably.