How are Fish Caught in Australia

How are Australia's Fish Caught

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How are Australia’s fish caught?

There are many aspects that contribute to the sustainability of fish stocks. SAFS looks specifically at the science behind the fishery itself (harvest rates, effort, biomass etc.). But, gear type and the interactions they may have with the environment and animals also plays a role.

There are a number of measures in place that aim to minimise the impact of fishing on the marine environment: for example, management arrangements, industry Codes of Practice and bycatch reduction devices.

The fishing methods used to catch most of the 132,200 tonnes (t) harvested in 2015–16 for the 83 species being reported on this year are:

1. Purse SeinePurse Seine Net

Purse seins are a type of fishing net used in catching small forage fish (that form schools in the open ocean) like Australian Sardine, Common Jack Mackerel and Blue Mackerel.

In 2015, more than 44 000 t of fish were caught using this method.

2. Otter Trawl

Otter boards (rectangular weighted boards) are used to keep the net open and at the correct fishing depth (usually, on the sea bed or slightly above). Different variations of this net type are used to catch fish like Snapper, Blue Grenadier and flathead, as well as squid and prawns.

In 2015, around 26 350 t of fish were caught using this method.

3. Batten and beehive pots

These pots are used to target Western and Southern Rock Lobster. Batten pots are rectangular, with wooden slats (or battens) on their sides and top. Beehive pots have a dome-shaped frame and wire mesh covering.

In 2015, more than 6000 t of rock lobster was caught using this method.

Western Rock Lobster Pots

4. Demersal longline

These are longlines set on the sea floor. They use a central line, from which many shorter, baited lines extend. They are usually used to catch species like Blacktip Sharks, Gummy Sharks and some emperors and snappers.

In 2015, more than 5500 t of fish were caught using this method.

5. Pelagic longline

These are longlines attached to surface floats that hold the lines off the sea floor. They are usually used to catch species like Swordfish and tunas.

In 2015, around 5500 t of fish were caught using this method.  

6. Diving

Diving includes snorkelling, SCUBA diving and surface-supplied air diving (hookah). Species like Ornate Rock Lobster, Commercial Scallop and Silverlip Pearl Oyster are caught by divers.

In 2015, more than 4000 t of fish were caught using this method.

7. Gillnet

Gillnets consist of vertical panels of net that are designed to ensnare fish around the body (wedged) or other body part (tangled) or behind the gill cover (‘gilled’). They are set at the surface, or on the sea floor and target fish such as bream, trevally and whiting.

In 2015, around just under 3500 t of fish were caught using this method.

8. Dredges

Dredges are mainly used to harvest Commercial Scallop. They consist of a ridged steel frame, with an open mouth on one side and a toothed bar that digs into the sea floor to stir up resting scallops.

In 2015, more than 3000 t of fish were caught using this method.

9. Danish seine

Danish seine nets are weighted nets set at the end of long lengths of rope, which are set by and winched in from a powered vessel. They are mostly used to catch fish such as emperors, flathead and whiting.

In 2015, around 3000 t of fish were caught using this method.