Recreational anglers are reminded that the annual zero bag limit closure for Australian Bass and Estuary Perch from all rivers and estuaries across NSW will commence on 1 May.
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager, Cameron Westaway, said the zero bag limit protects the fish species while they spawn, following a record stocking season this year.
“This season, DPI has stocked a record 429,000 Australian Bass in NSW waterways from our Port Stephens Hatchery,” he said.
“This is in addition to a further 89,000 fish from registered private hatcheries under the DPI Dollar for Dollar Native Fish Stocking Program.”
During the winter, the popular native fish species are known to become vulnerable to overfishing as they form large groups and migrate to parts of estuaries with the right salinity to trigger spawning.
“The zero bag limit closure protects the fish during this spawning period to ensure they can remain a popular catch with recreational fishers for many generations to come.”
Mr Westaway said the closure does not apply to Australian Bass and Estuary Perch caught in freshwater dams or in rivers above impoundments, as they do not breed in these areas.
“All fish in freshwater impoundments, like Glenbawn Dam and Glennies Creek Dam in the Hunter Valley, Brogo Dam near Bega and Clarrie Hall and Toonumbar Dams in the northeast are stocked fisheries, meaning anglers may continue to fish for these species in those waters all year round,” he said.
Catch and release fishing for Australian Bass or Estuary Perch is permitted in rivers during the closure but any of these species of fish must be returned to the water immediately with the least possible harm.
“The zero bag limit does not close any waters to fishing and does not affect anglers fishing for other estuary species, such as Bream or Flathead,” Mr Westaway said.
“We ask anglers to be aware and informed of the species they’re fishing, and abide by the recreational fishing rules and regulations for that location.”
DPI Fisheries officers will target anglers illegally retaining Australian Bass or Estuary Perch during the four-month closure.