The Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) is working with commercial tuna fishers to ensure that recreational and commercial fishing can occur harmoniously this game fishing season.
AFMA is encouraging fishers from the commercial Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery to actively avoid competition areas such as the upcoming Australian National Sportsfishing Association and Games Fishing Association Australia competitions off Narooma, Port Stephens and Bermagui.
Skipper of longliner Tuna Moon, Joe Basile said that most of the time they fish well out to sea and don’t come close to recreational fishers.
“We always try to avoid fishing where the game fishing comps are happening,” Mr Basile said.
AFMA CEO Dr James Findlay said that the recreational fishing sector was a very important part of the fishing landscape and while AFMA doesn’t have direct responsibility for recreational fishing, it forms an important consideration in managing commercial fisheries.
“It’s really important that commercial and recreational fishing can work in harmony and we’re doing our part to make sure that the rec guys can enjoy their sport and that commercial fishers can provide fresh seafood for Australian consumers”, Dr Findlay said.
“AFMA has several rules in place to limit the impact of commercial fisheries on the recreational sector.”
Under Commonwealth law, commercial tuna fishers are also banned from taking Blue Marlin and Black Marlin, two prized game fish species due to their large size and vigorous fighting.
Very few of these fish are caught as bycatch in commercial fishing operations and they are always released. AFMA makes it mandatory for commercial boats to carry line cutters and dehookers which make it easier to free any caught marlin and greatly improve survival rates for released fish.
AFMA also distributes details of upcoming game fishing tournaments to the commercial fleet to help them to plan their trips to avoid coming too close to the competitions.
“It has been particularly encouraging to see commercial tuna fishers pointing rec and charter fishers towards the better fishing areas for both tuna and marlin in recent years and this sort of cooperation is a great sign of the growing level of trust between the sectors”, Dr Findlay said.
Contact Sophie Dening, AFMA Communications 02 6225 5541 or 0447 942 840 or firstname.lastname@example.org.