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FISHERIES MANAGEMENT AT WORK

By Dan Trotter on October 21, 2017 in Sport

Picture: Sonny Gordon

A little over eight weeks ago, the Federal Government proposed to change laws relating to the extensive Marine Park net- work that will essentially cut conservation efforts. While this was met with elation from some in the fishing fraternity, many of us fishers – and a lot of scientists – were left disappointed by this move and worried about the ramifications it will have on a sustainable future for the animals that live beneath the surface.

We all know that the oceans are in a battle for their lives, and while many readers feel that recreational fishing has a major impact, there are many more real factors endangering the future biodiversity of the oceans, which is why they need protection and careful management.

Sure, some of us recreational anglers catch fish, and some catch more than others, but the vast majority of us are a law-abiding bunch, and the rules and regulations already in place are doing a great job of looking after important recreational and professional target species.

Conservation of the ocean is vital to the planet’s future, our species’ sustainability, and to the wider health of the entire biosphere. It seems irresponsible and flawed, especially after so many hard-fought years to establish a broad and defined network of Marine Parks, to have these marine protections repealed.

On a more positive note, it would appear that the strict management of the Southern bluefin tuna (Thunnus maccoyii) stocks over the last few decades by the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) and other state and federal fisheries management departments, has managed to halt the decline in numbers of this majestic fish. The strict management could possibly lead to the slow rebuilding of the total number, with year- on-year incremental increases in recruitment.

While this is nothing to celebrate just yet – stocks are currently estimated to be at a mere nine percent of their original bio- mass – it is a positive indication. Even with such a small increase, recreational anglers have really noticed the difference, with many large Southern bluefin caught in Victoria and New South Wales over the past few months.

The photo accompanying this month’s article is of an estimated 130 kilogram tuna, caught off the south coast of New South Wales by a very good mate of mine. We even managed to get a few kilos sent back to Sydney for a rare and delicious culinary treat. A fish like this is a fish of a lifetime!

Back in home waters, the spring snapper run should just have started. If you’re keen, search for broken reef, interspersed
with gravel patches in the fifty to seventy metre depth belt. Anchor, set up a burley trail, and float well-presented fish baits down the current. Fish an open bail arm and, when the line starts zipping off the spool, close it, wind like crazy, and say a few prayers.

If Kingie fishing is more your thing, numbers have been good along the headlands and the inshore reefs all winter, so it’s worth towing some large live baits around on heavy gear and holding on. Here’s to a healthy start to spring!

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