Many people approach measuring fish with a relaxed approach and risk hefty fines, particularly if the fish is borderline size. There is no grey area when it comes to legal size of catch. Even the difference of 1cm can have you in trouble, and is just not worth the risk of a fine.
Sustainability needs to be taken very seriously, hence Fisheries have very clear guidelines. Sustainable fishing means that fish are harvested at a sustainable rate, so the fish population does not decline over time due to poor fishing practices. Imagine a world that is over-harvested and the corresponding devastation to the eco-system and to our future generations. It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to do our bit to protect the planet.
Size limits are typically based on biological research into the reproductive cycle of each species. Minimum size limits generally allow fish to spawn at least once and contribute to the population before they are taken.
The biggest mistake when measuring the length of your catch is where people don’t use a flat surface to measure the fish on. Ensure that if you use a mat, that it is not crumpled causing you to potentially overestimate the size of the fish. Adhesive or stick-on devices, when exposed to the weather, can shrink and become unreliable. Using a solid measuring implement is the best way.
As fish tend to contract if placed on ice, err on the side of caution and allow an extra inch at the initial measure.
Close the jaw of the fish to ensure an accurate reading. The overall measurement of a fish, whether it is fork tailed or round tailed, is taken from the outside of the snout on the upper jaw, to the extreme tip of the tail.
Your State Fisheries website will likely have an outline on how to measure an array of sea life e.g. crabs and squid as well as fish, so it might be worthwhile printing out a copy and keeping it in your tackle box for reference.
To assist in survival of your catch, avoid holding the belly area as you will almost certainly damage internal organs, which reduces chances of survival dramatically.
Never touch the fish’s gills as they are easily damaged.
Use a pair of long-nosed pliers, or a purpose made hook-release to quickly and efficiently remove the hook. If the fish has hooked deeply, cut the line as close to the hook as possible and leave the hook in the fish as it will probably do more damage trying to remove a deep hook than to leave it where it is.
A fish has no lungs so the moment it comes out of the water it stops ‘breathing’.
Research indicates that after landing a fish, keeping it out of the water for 30 seconds reduces the chances of survival by 30%, and 60 seconds out of the water reduces its survival by 70%.
Lastly, try to place the fish gently back into the water, as throwing it is also likely to greatly decrease the fish’s chances of survival.