1. QUICKLY AND CORRECTLY RETURNING UNWANTED OR ILLEGAL CATCH TO THE WATER
This code recognises and conforms with the Overarching Principles of Aquatic Animal Welfare and the Position Statement of the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare (http://www.daff.gov.au/animal-plant-health/welfare/nccaw/guidelines/fishing)
A large proportion of fish caught throughout Australia must be released due to legal length regulations. Also, an increasing number of fish are now released due to the popularity of catch-and-release fishing. It is therefore responsible practice to ensure that all fish released have a good chance of survival. Studies have shown that most fish survive normal release practices, however, there are several techniques that will maximise the survival of released fish.
Quickly and correctly returning fish means:
- Using ‘fish-friendly’ gear whenever possible. This may include non-offset circle hooks, knotless landing nets and barbless hooks on lures
- Once hooked, minimising capture time, handling time and exposure to air to reduce stress on fish and increase their survival when released
- Not returning fish if excessive bleeding is noted
- Using wet hands, gloves or cloths and a minimum of handling (eg support fish by holding horizontally, cover fish’s eyes)
- Cutting the line close to the mouth when fish are deeply hooked
- Reviving tired fish by holding the fish facing the current or gently moving it forward to force water through its gills. When it has revived, and is able to swim normally, gently release it.