Re­lease weight helps fish swim away un­harmed

Pilbara News - - Fishing - Andrew Row­land Dr Andrew Row­land is the chief ex­ec­u­tive of Rec­fish­west.

Rec­fish­west has again thrown its sup­port be­hind a push to get recre­ational fish­ers across WA to use re­lease weights.

De­signed lo­cally, and manda­tory in the west coast biore­gion, a re­lease weight is an in­valu­able tool for all boat fish­ers.

As men­tioned in last week’s col­umn, mak­ing them manda­tory across the State was a rec­om­men­da­tion in the size limit re­view by the Depart­ment of Fish­eries.

We sup­port that rec­om­men­da­tion be­cause it will help en­sure more un­wanted fish are suc­cess­fully re­leased across WA.

Fish caught at depths of greater than 20m, in­clud­ing pop­u­lar species like dhu­fish, co­ral trout, cod, and var­i­ous em­per­ors, of­ten suf­fer baro­trauma when they are brought to the sur­face.

Baro­trauma is the re­sult of the rapid ex­pan­sion of gases in the swim blad­der as fish are brought to the sur­face rapidly, which puts pres­sure on in­ter­nal or­gans.

Bulging eyes and the stom­ach pro­trud­ing from the mouth are sure signs of baro­trauma, which can be less­ened by the an­gler slowly bring­ing a fish up rather than try­ing to boat it as quickly as pos­si­ble.

Fish ex­hibit­ing these symp­toms can find it im­pos­si­ble to re­turn to the bot­tom on their own, mak­ing them doomed to die when re­leased.

How­ever, tag­ging re­sults have shown even fish with se­vere symp­toms of baro­trauma have sur­vived when han­dled cor­rectly.

Us­ing a re­lease weight greatly in­creases the sur­vival of re­leased fish as it as­sists in re­turn­ing them back to the bot­tom habi­tat and depth of cap­ture.

The re­lease weight, which is es­sen­tially a weighted bar­b­less hook, is sim­ply at­tached to the jaw of the fish and is then low­ered back down.

When the fish has been re­turned to the bot­tom, the weight can eas­ily be pulled free.

Re­lease weights are avail­able from most tackle stores, and more in­for­ma­tion on their use can be found on the Rec­fish­west web­site at rec­fish west.org.au.

While it is not yet com­pul­sory in all ar­eas, we would rec­om­mend that all boats carry one and use it when needed.

This is an­other ex­am­ple of a proac­tive mea­sure con­tribut­ing to a sus­tain­able fish­ing fu­ture.

A re­lease weight be­ing used on a dhu­fish.

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