Good Tuna Fishing Practices

Code of Practice - Recreational Fishery

Copies of the Southern Bluefin Tuna Code of Practice for recreational fishers which collates the best practice recommendations for catching, handling, release and tagging of SBT can be obtained from fishing club, tackle shops or Fishcare.

Tuna fishing

Consider other fishers

  • Leave space between yourself and other fishers as tuna lures can be some distance behind a boat.
  • Keep clear of a game fishing boat fighting a fish. Watch for other boats and provide plenty of room for manoeuvring.
  • Avoid stopping near 'blind spots'.
  • Only run as many lines as the crew can handle.
  • Keep your boat speed down around the fishing ground because excessive engine noise may drive the tuna down.
  • Don't rush up to a group of boats working a patch of fish, troll in as the fish could be working a bait school which would be scared into diving.
  • Don't follow (troll) in close proximity directly behind another vessel.

Burley trails

  • Keep clear of burley trails and don't cross them. It takes time to set them up.

Bait schools

  • Schools of bait fish move quickly and erratically, troll around the schools as the game fish could be working the edge or attacking from out of the deep water. Trolling through the surface school only scares them into diving or breaks up the concentration.

Cleaning fish

  • Cleaning of fish such as tuna should be done at sea and all offal and frames disposed of away from the fishing grounds.
  • Trophy fish should be taken out to sea for cleaning after weighing.

Reducing interactions with seals

Seal swimming off Bruny IslandThe Australian fur seal is the most common seal in Tasmanian waters. They congregate in groups on shore in rocky areas known as a haul-out where they rest and can easily access food. In Tasmania, many haul-outs occur in popular recreational offshore fishing areas, where waters rich in nutrients and feed attract fish, birds and game fish species.

Seals are intelligent animals that are attracted by increased bird activity, noise from fishing operations, flashes, glare and reflected light.  They quickly learn negative behaviours when rewarded with food. If fed regularly they can become dependent and may become nuisance animals if this food source is removed.

Seals will continue this behaviour as long as their efforts to get tuna are rewarded.

They often take tuna when they are directly under the boat after their initial runs. Attacks are characterised by a sudden increase in weight followed by a slacking of the line as it appears to run to the surface. The seal will surface with the fish which is then violently thrown around to tear off flesh or dislodge it from the line.

What can I do to avoid seals when tuna fishing?
  • NEVER FEED SEALS. The feeding of seals only encourages them to become persistent in their behaviour to attack hooked fish.
  • Only take what you need for a feed. Caught and released fish will be eaten by seals if they are around.
  • Don't throw a feed to distract a seal when fighting another fish.
  • Clean fish at sea away from the fishing grounds. Don't dispose of frames and offal near boat ramps.
  • Land the fish as quickly as possible. Use heavier line and gear if you are after a feed or if there are seals present.
  • Don't throw tuna to distract seals when fighting another fish. Be prepared to leave an area where seals are and fish elsewhere.
  • Seals are protected by law in Tasmania.  Don't approach seals when they are hauled out on land.
  • For further information or to report seal interactions call the WHALE hotline on 0427 WHALES.
WARNING: Some of these activities will increase boat noise that will potentially attract seals. Large male seals may be curious or aggressive and can potentially swamp vessels, so be alert and always observe marine safety rules. See this map of known seal haulouts in Tasmania.
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