Project number: 2004-070
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $218,185.00
Principal Investigator: Bill Sawynok
Organisation: Infofish Australia Pty Ltd
Project start/end date: 29 Jun 2004 - 1 May 2008


The need is a national one and results from the large number of fish released, concern for the survival of these fish, the impact of this on fish stocks and how this needs to be managed. The numbers of fish and proportion of the catch released will continue to grow due to increasing management regulation. Environmental assessments are highlighting the importance of quantifying recreational fishing and fishing-induced mortality in fisheries with export components and the deficiencies that currently exist with most popular fish and shellfish species.

In addressing this need there has now been a significant investment in projects under the national strategy funded by FRDC and other agencies.

The steering committee has played an important role in guiding the planning and execution of these projects. The steering committee should continue to oversee the development of further projects under the strategy as well as influencing other projects not funded by FRDC to use the facilities established through the national strategy. This will ensure the greatest return on investment in such projects.

Project 2001/099 has developed strong linkages with industry and a range of products that communicate best practices on releasing fish. As new knowledge and updated best practices are developed through technical projects there is need to extend that knowledge. The most efficient way to do this is through the mechanisms developed by this project. The FRDC board has also stipulated that the technical projects use these facilities.

The focus in 2001/099 was to extend best practices in releasing fish to recreational fishers. As a result there has been limited extension to charter operators and fisheries managers. Fisheries managers, in particular, need new tools, models and data to be better equipped to make decisions about future management of recreational fisheries.

There is a need to continue this initiative beyond 2003/04 to provide leadership to the national strategy, maintain the mechanisms for national extension of new knowledge and changes in best practices, extend knowledge to charter operators and fisheries managers and provide managers with decision support tools.


1. To provide leadership for Australia’s investment in R&amp
D in released line caught fish survival.
2. To provide recreational fishers, charter operators and fisheries managers with new knowledge on releasing fish and changes in best practices as obtained from the technical projects and other research.
3. To facilitate and promote the development of new tools, models and data to assist in decision making by fisheries managers.

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-9752219-3-8
Author: Bill Sawynok J Pepperell R Winstanley
Final Report • 2008-09-04 • 2.00 MB


The National Strategy for the Survival of Released Line Caught Fish was an initiative of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation. The strategy evolved during 2001 and 2002 following the funding of a project on reef fish survival in Western Australia in 2000. It was formally approved in April 2002 with the funding of project 2001/099 National Strategy for the Survival of Released Line Caught Fish: Planning, project management and communications. Phase 2 of the National Strategy was from July 2004 to June 2008. From April 2006 it became part of a broader Recfishing Research strategy.

The national strategy focussed research on the priorities identified for survival of released fish. From April 2002 to March 2008, under the umbrella of the national strategy, there have been 20 projects dealing with released fish survival involving a total investment of around $7.3 million of which FRDC provided $2.4 million. This has been one of the largest investments in research, development and extension into an issue of importance to recreational fishing.

Projects under the national strategy have significantly improved knowledge of all issues involving the survival of released fish.  Projects under the national strategy have extended the species where there are now estimates of survival rate from 4 to 21. They have also significantly improved knowledge of the effects of deep hooking and barotrauma. There was also a significant improvement in knowledge of best practices in releasing fish to improve fish survival.

The national strategy was instrumental in getting information on the survival of released fish and the results of research into fishers’ communication networks and ultimately to recreational fishers. This project extended information obtained from the research projects to recreational fishers by getting new information into the communication networks used by recreational fishers, charter operators and fisheries managers. Extension was achieved through a website, government fisheries agencies, national and state fishing organisations, schools, marine education programs, Fishcare volunteers, tackle stores, fishing media and fishing clubs which ultimately extended information to individual fishers.

Keywords: National strategy, releasing fish, fish survival, best practices, Gently Does It.

Final Report • 2008-09-04 • 324.33 KB
2004-070 Survey report.pdf


This report summarises the final survey phase of the strategy. The survey was conducted among fisheries managers, key industry leaders and the fishing tackle industry to assess adoption of released fish survival data and knowledge in management arrangements, stock assessments and industry practices utilising knowledge gained from the national strategy.

Fisheries managers were also surveyed as to whether or not information from the strategy had been used in fisheries management – if so, how it has been used, and how often. 

Final Report • 2008-09-04 • 14.49 MB
2004-070 Printed information products.pdf


A range of information products were produced through the national strategy or by projects that came under the strategy from July 2004 to June 2008.

These include:

  • Gently Does It: A Guide for Releasing Fish to Survive and Best Practices for Releasing Fish
  • Gently Does It: Releasing Snapper and Bream
  • Gently Does It: Releasing Tropical Reef Fish
  • Pamphlets: Flathead Survival, Released Fish Survival is Your Business and Released Fish Survival For Fisheries Management
  • Fish Friendly Tackle: posters produced to promote fish friendly tackle - one aimed at children, and one aimed at adults
  • Posters based around the research of Barramundi survival undertaken by NT Fisheries

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Smart Fishing Consulting