SAFE CATCH LIMITS AND FISH ID
Not all fish taste good, or are legal, here’s your guide to the best
This is an important one, as getting caught out doing the wrong thing will not only ruin your day, but it will hurt the marine environment. These rules are made to maintain marine habitats and protect threatened species, and as an ocean lover respecting the ocean should be of primary importance. Also some fish, are just not worth eating.
Fishing is heavily regulated, and before jumping in to spear, familiarising ourself with the local safe catch limits and fishing zones is a must do. A significant amount of coastline is actually protected as a marine park or marine sanctuaries, and in these zones we cannot fish at all. So our first step before jumping in is to double check we’re not fishing in a sanctuary zone. Getting this wrong is a serious offence and can land you in court.
Also majority of fish species have size limits, and general bag limits which are designed to protect the species and ensure that the fish that are yet to reproduce aren’t taken. For example in NSW mahi mahi or dolphin fish have a minimum size of 60cm, and you’re allowed a maximum of 10, and only 1 of those fish being can be bigger than 110cm. Some animals, such as Wobbygong’s have a catch limit of 0, and are listed as a protected species.
It’s incredibly important to farmiliarise yourself with the fish youre targeting, know the legal sizes, and bag limits, and if you’re not sure what the species is, don’t take the shot.
Measuring the fish underwater is tricky, and does take experience. It’s important to know that our perception of size underwater is altered, so starting out it’s best to only shoot fish that you are sure are over the legal limit. It’s better to let a few legal fish go if you’re unsure, than risk killing illegal catch. Once you’re out of the water, measure your catch and gradually you’ll be able to refine your underwater size estimations.
Catch and size information is very widely available. Each area and state will have information on a government website detailing this, with images of the fish such that you can ID them. For example in NSW, the DPI have a full list of all species found in the area, with sizes, images, and bag limit statistics. This information is also commonly found on signs at popular fishing spots.
Finally, we really only want to be killing the fish that we eat. And for that, we want them to taste good. A simple google search will inform you of the best tasting fish in your area, but as a guide in temperate water Australia Kingfish, mahi mahi, flathead, bass, and snapper are all great eating, with coral trout and barramundi being among the best of the reef fish.
With all that said, get out there and catch your dinner!