Responsible Fishing Behaviours
Treating fish humanely, maintaining quality and avoiding waste means:
- using only tackle that is appropriate for the size and type of fish;
- attending gear to ensure that fish are retrieved as soon as they are caught;
- dispatching fish immediately; and
- icing fish and storing them away from sunlight, preferably in a moist bag or cooler.
Handling Fish to be Released
You are obliged to return any fish that you do not intend to keep to the water immediately. Unwanted fish must be returned to the water with the least possible injury or damage. This does not apply to:
- fish declared to be noxious; and
- live bait fish.
While toadfish, rays and native seastars are not desired species to keep, they must be returned to the water unharmed. The 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.
If a fish is to be released, the hook should be removed while the fish is still in the water (if possible). Removal of the hook is a matter of judgement in relation to the potential damage that may be caused to the fish:
- 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; or
- if the fish is hooked deeper in the mouth or in the stomach, leave the hook where it is and cut the line near the hook.
Reducing Damage to Fish
If the fish being released must be handled out of water, reduce damage to the fish by:
- using a net without knotted mesh;
- retrieving fish as quickly as possible;
- using wet hands or a wet cloth, and a minimum of handling to ensure that released fish have a good chance of survival;
- wetting any surface on which you place the fish, and avoiding hot dry surfaces; and
- prior to release, hold the fish gently and move it forward to force water through its gills until it has revived and is able to swim normally.
Marking and Stocking Fish
You must not tag, brand, mark, fin-clip (other than as required by the fishing regulations) or stock any fish in Victorian waters without prior written permission from DPI.
Research agencies and recreational fishers tag and release fish to learn more about their growth and movement. If you catch a tagged fish, record the date, location, the fish’s fork length and the tag number.
If you intend to keep the fish then retain the tag, some scales and, if possible, freeze the fish frame. If the tag does not display a phone number, report your capture on 1800 652 598 or VICTAG on 1800 677 620.