I was pleased to see a Fisheries officer at the recent Marlo kayak event. As anglers, we work hard to break the stereotype of the typical angler and I believe Fisheries officers are important for our cause.
The great thing was how well received the checks were, this particular officer was checking licenses and fish lengths to ensure everything was by the book and myself, along with all of the anglers were happy to work with him. Luckily for me, on day one, my fish lengths were never in question but it goes to show that no one is ever excluded from these checks.
The Fisheries Officer being there served two important purposes, the first being the license and fish checks, these are important and with increasing powers, are dealing with those anglers not following the rules. The reports of confiscated fishing gear and even boats should act as a great deterrent for those not doing the right thing but most importantly I think, it started some conversations between us anglers during the weigh in or over dinner.
One thing that I raised was the bag limits that we have in NSW especially (sorry, that’s where I’m from). The tournament species was bream and this represents a “bread and butter” species in our estuaries and I assume estuary fishing makes up a good percentage of anglers.
At the time of writing, our bag limit in NSW is 20 bream per angler, I think this is astounding. My example goes like this:
It’s pretty rare to go fishing alone, so lets assume there are 2 anglers catching 20 bream each (I wish I could manage that on some days but lets assume they do it). That’s 40 fish and if they go out for a second day, potentially 80 fish caught over 2 sessions. That doesn’t include the number of anglers out each weekend, potentially doing the same.
My thoughts are, what if we reduced our bag limits to 10 fish or another more reasonable number, it’ll have less impact on the fish populations and make for better fishing in years to come. I know a lot of us are catch and release anglers and I personally have no issue with taking fish for the table but would be interested to see the impact of changing our bag limits as opposed to introducing marine parks or some how combining both ideas to reduce our ability to go fishing.
This formula is only based on bream but applies to every other species. Some species have more realistic bag limits and some even have slot limits that help protect the species. I have heard that the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule or 80% of fish are caught by 20% of anglers) applies to fishing too but I wonder if more could be done at the bag, size and slot limit level to reduce the chances of marine parks, green zones and restrictions limiting our ability to continue our favourite past time.