Responsible Fishing Behaviours

Vic Fishing Rec Guide 2015

Handling fish

A fish's body has a slimy protective coating, which can be damaged by excessive handling. Incorrect handling damages fish and reduces their chances of survival after release. Fish can also suffocate (lack of oxygen) and suffer internal soft tissue injury (organs are crushed) when lifted incorrectly or inappropriately handled.

By following these simple steps, you can improve a fish's chance of survival:

  • Use tackle that is appropriate for the size and type of fish (light gear can result in a fish dying of exhaustion or stress soon after its release).
  • Always attend to your gear to ensure that fish are retrieved as soon as they are caught (minimises stress and potential injury).
  • When you catch a fish out of season, outside of the legal limits (size, bag or possession) or if the fish is not one you wish to keep (e.g. toadfish, rays, native sea stars, non-target species), release it immediately (i.e. at once and without delay) and with the least amount of damage or injury (i.e. the least amount of handling).
  • Whenever possible, when releasing a fish, remove the hook while the fish is still in the water; try not to remove the fish from the water.
  • Use circle hooks to increase a fish's chance of living once it is released.
  • If the fish is hooked in the jaw or mouth, remove the hook as cleanly as possible using a hook remover or long-nosed pliers.
  • If the fish is hooked deep in the mouth or in the stomach, leave the hook where it is and cut the line as near as possible to the hook.

It is also good practice to:

  • Dispatch fish you intend to keep immediately.
  • Ice fish and store them away from sunlight, preferably in a moist bag or cooler.

If you must handle a fish before you release it (to check its identify or if it is of legal size) reduce damage to the fish by:

  • Using a net without knotted mesh.
  • Using wet hands or a wet towel to handle it.
  • Placing the fish on cool and wet surfaces (not on hot and dry surfaces). 
  • When releasing the fish, hold the fish gently and move it forward to force water through its gills until it has revived and is able to swim normally.

Remember to minimise fish handling and you must not release noxious fish species (refer to Noxious fish species).

Do not tamper or infer with commercial fishing equipment

All commercial equipment is required to be labelled with the license details of the commercial fisher to whom it belongs.

Recreational anglers are reminded that it is an offence to interfere or tamper with commercial fishing equipment.

If you suspect equipment is being used illegal by recreational or commercial fishers, report it to 13FISH (133474) reporting hotline.

Fyke Net

Fyke net

Temporary closures and interim restrictions 

Occasionally, it may be necessary to make shortterm or interim changes to regulations, such as the bag or size limit of a species. 

Fisheries Notices provide an important management tool to implement these measures promptly and in response to emerging issues.

It is the responsibility of all fishers to be aware of any changes that are made to fisheries rules and regulations through Fisheries Notices.

You can do this by:

  • routinely checking the Fisheries Notices 
  • contacting the Customer Service Centre on 136 186.