Fishing Rules

VRFish endorses a National Code of Practice for the responsible catching, handling, releasing and tagging of recreational caught Southern Bluefin Tuna. It has been based on research conducted by the University of Tasmania and funded by the Fisheries Research Development Corporation (FRDC) and Victorian, Tasmanian and NSW fishers.


  • Minimising the time it takes to retrieve a fish to the boat will reduce the stress it experiences.
  • Fight time can be reduced by using a heavier line class, buying a good quality rod and reel that is up to the job and educating yourself on good fishing techniques.
  • Consideration of the type of hook you use can minimise damage to the fish. J hooks on trolled lures cause far less damage than treble hooks. Circle hooks should be used when bait fishing for SBT.
  • Avoid fishing in areas where predators are in high abundance. Never feed a predator, including fish carcasses after fillleting. Minimise fight time to reduce the possibility of a predation

Retaining Fish

  • Know the regulations before you head out fishing. Think about the quantity of fish you need to keep, and note that highgrading is illegal. Catch regulations are a limit not a challenge!
  • Bring the fish aboard carefully, trying to avoid damaging the fish as bruising will affect the quality of the flesh
  • Immediately dispatch the fish by administering a spike to the brain then bleed the fish by making a cut behind the pectoral fins on both sides.
  • Remove the gills and organs straight after brain spiking and bleeding. Then put the fish trunk into a fish bag, ice chest or esky with ice to cool the body temperature.
  • Reduce wastage by learning how to fillet Southern Bluefin Tuna effectively..

Releasing Fish

  • When releasing a fish hold it alongside the boat while moving ahead slowly so that water is passed over the gills until it actively swims away. Be aware of avoiding predation by sharks or marine mammals.
  • If the hook can be seen, and is not in a position where removal will cause major damage, remove it with pliers or a de-hooker while the fish is still in the water.
  • If the fish is deep hooked consider keeping it as part of your bag limit as the potential damage may affect survival after release, but if you choose to release it leave the hook in the fish and cut the line as close as possible to the hook, making sure the fish is resuscitated prior to release.
  • If the hook has caused damage to the gills the fish has a far lower chance of survival, consider keeping fish with gill damage as part of your bag limit.
  • Make sure anything that comes into contact with the fish is wet.
  • If removing a fish from the water for a photo prior to release, consider using a landing net, avoid lifting it by the gill plate or tail, try and support the whole body, and minimise time out of water.

Tagging Fish

  • Tags (and associated data cards) can be sourced from GFAA affiliated game fishing clubs.
  • It is best to tag the fish while it is still in the water, particularly for larger fish.
  • If applying the tag while the fish is out of the water ensure that it is carefully placed on a wet, padded surface.
  • Administer the tag using an appropriate tagging tool, place the tag directly under the second dorsal fin, and insert the tag at an angle leaning back towards the tail. Ensure the tag anchor passes through the muscle and bones under the fin.
  • Record the length of the fish as accurately as possible.
  • Record all the capture details accurately on the tagging card.
  • Return the tagging card to the administering group as soon as possible.

Download Southern Bluefin Tuna Code of Practice Brochure

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