Home' Afloat : AFLOAT May 2017 Contents Take monthly with water May 2017 53
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with David Lockwood
According to the Australian Institute of Marine Science, and
its biennial Index of the Marine Industry, the Blue Economy
contributed $74 billion in 2013-14 in Australia. Recreational
fishing generated a staggering $2,164.8m, plus $1,523.8m as
indirect value, amounting to a total value of $3,688.6m, which
is more than twice that of commercial wild fisheries and four
times the value of marine-based aquaculture.
There has been a 4 per cent increase in the value of marine
tourism and recreational activities between 2012-13 and 2013-14.
This sector has shown a steady increase over time with an average
year-on-year growth of 5 per cent since 2001-02, AIMS says.
This is good news for those of us who champion the boating
and fishing lifestyle. Clearly, more people want to experience our
oceans. However, they are increasingly using third party charter
and tourism businesses to experience the marine environment
rather than buying boats and going it alone.
This is good news for charter operators, fishing guides, and
the future of commercial operations in general. As these folk
have a vested interest the health of the waterways and future
of the fisheries, small-scale commercial guys can be excellent
managers of our natural assets.
Somewhere out there are many opportunities for boutique
eco-tourism, sportsfishing and charter operations in areas other
than just the Great Barrier Reef. But draconian maritime laws have
long been regarded as an impediment to investment and start-up.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority introduced new
standards for operators in the commercial hire & drive, charter
yacht, syndication, boat club and similar sectors designed to
make it easier. I can’t see that personally, but more at <www.
A Sydney fishing guide’s view
You might think you do a lot of fishing, but you haven’t got
anything on guides who do it for a living, especially those with
their work cut out on busy waterways.
Starting up in 1992 as the first guide on Sydney Harbour,
Craig McGill from Fishabout Tours has seen it all. But this year
has been a weird one, he says. The hot water has brought a lot
of tropical species and it’s been a big shark year, too.
In the harbour, it’s been hot for jewfish after the big wet
months of February and March, the kingfish and Aussie salmon
were going hard prior to the fresh, but the big news is the resident
school of hairtail that harken back to the fishing days of yore.
There have also been some tropical surprises. These include
cobia to 20kg, amberjack and Samson fish, and even a decent
pennant fish, a species a bit like a diamond trevally. You sometimes
see the little ones with long trailing filamentous fins, but McGill
got a beauty of about 1kg.
There have been rainbow runners, Watsons leaping bonito and
a lot of those strange tropical grinners that live on the bottom. A
long-nosed trevally was landed in Middle Harbour, and there were
reports of long-tail or northern bluefin tuna around The Heads.
The Blue Economy
fires from fishing
Offshore, the dolphin fish have been noticeable by their
absence around the FADs and fish trap floats, but perhaps once
the hot water eases this month they will appear. There has been
patchy marlin fishing, so expect the yellowfin tuna fishery to
After the extreme weather events of Cyclone Debbie and the
ensuing low-pressure system, with flooding affecting the Gold
Coast and North NSW regions, you can expect something else.
The snapper will keep snapping in May on the inshore reefs. It’s
been a fantastic season to date for the ‘reds’ and you can count
on more of them this month and next.
Along with the jewfish in the estuaries and off the beaches, big
bream are certainty after rain, along with mud crabs downstream.
Then there are the trout out west that, with plenty of water in
the rivers, bite the best. Warragamba was around 100 per cent,
Circle hooks catch on
While circle hooks date back to our earliest fishing records,
today they are being promoted as a better alternative to J-shaped
hooks for catching and releasing large predators. The circle hook
lodges in the fish’s jaw, not its stomach, and therefore improves
NSW Fisheries is an advocate of circle hooks and has a page
devoted to using them. The benefits in brief include:
• Reduced deep hooking that improves the survival of released
fish and decreased loss of fishing tackle.
• Improved hook-up and landing rates for many species.
• The strike time is not as crucial for hook-up of fish.
• Lighter leaders/traces can be used as the line is generally
away from abrasive mouth surfaces.
• Circle hooks bring about many benefits for anglers, but
they do require a few minor changes to your normal fishing
To attain the best hook-up rate with a circle hook you don’t
yank back to set the hook but simply put your reel in gear and
apply slow and steady pressure. As the fish swims away, the hook
will pull out to the point it lodges in the jaw hinge. Once you
feel a good amount of pressure, up the drag and fight as normal.
Learn all about circle hooks at <http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.
Hair-raising hairtail ... it’s great to see these enigmatic fish return to
Sydney Harbour in such great numbers this year.
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