Tidal Talk April 2001

Look after the Easter Stocks

So Easter is upon us again - another great chance to do some fishing and a great time for rabbits (unless they are chocolate)  
But it's not such a great time of the year if you happen to be a fish.
This year for Easter, let's take particular care to do the right thing and let's all do our bit to make sure we have fish for the future.
If I may, I'd like to offer just a few pointers...... nothing new, but every bit helps.  

Remember need not greed ---only take what you need for a feed.  Remember to return the small and the large fish you don't  really need. And remember to do it carefully using wet hands or gloves to put them back into the water.

Think about flattening the barb on your hook and the hooks on your lures and spinners to make them barbless.  The less damage you do when catching and releasing fish, the greater their chance of survival. Remember let them go so they can breed and grow  - but do it gently.
There are round hooks available now which hook fish very well and, from reports I have heard, fish are less likely to completely swallow the lot. This would mean easier unhooking and a more gentle release.

The last tip I'll offer is to think again about using bait. Try artificial. The old fly (either trout flies or the special salt water versions) will work well on many fish species. Just tie it on where you'd usually use a baited hook and wriggle it about a bit. Trolling and spinning work very well for the larger flathead. So try artificial and hang on.
By not using bait we are saving marine resources and helping with fish for the future.

The Review of the scalefish fishery is under way.
I've mentioned this before, but I wanted to highlight one of the changes under consideration:  to allow the use of only one recreational graball net per person.
Under the present scalefish rules, people holding appropriate recreational licences are allowed to use up to two graball nets, one mullet net and a beach seine net.
Since netting licences were introduced in 1996, the number of licensed people has increased by 23%.  
That would indicate a need to contain effort in the scalefish fishery.
Already, significant changes have been made to netting rules since the introduction of net licences.
Under the last scalefish plan there were 33 new netting boundaries, and the allowable length of mullet nets was halved; a limit was placed on the maximum number of nets per boat and new controls were introduced to restrict soak time for nets.
(By the way - I hope you're aware of an educational booklet "Net Smarter". It includes a code of conduct and has been released to encourage more responsible netting.)
But back to the proposal for net limits.
I had a look to find out how much net exists in both the commercial and recreational fishery and you may be surprised by the answers.
Firstly, you need to remember that not all the net is actually used and indeed I would say a lot is latent (not in active use).
So I am talking about the theoretical amount which could be used if everyone holding a licence to use nets used as much net as they were entitled to.
Now that we have all that sorted out, let's look at the figures.
It turns out that in the recreational sector there are 563 kilometres of net.
In the commercial sector, the maximum entitlement was 486 kilometres - and that was a year or so ago.
In total we have a maximum entitlement to use nets stretching 1048 kilometres.
So if someone tells you there is enough net to circle Tasmania -  and I have heard this claim before - you can tell "em it's not true. You need to travel about 1200 kilometres to circumnavigate the Tasmania mainland.
It's food for thought. And so is the proposition to cut recreational graball nets back to one per person.
Limiting licences to just one graball net would be likely to result in closer supervision of nets and to reduce netting effort by up to 25%.
Love it or hate it, it would be one measure that should help to ensure we have Fish for the future.

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