Minister for Primary Industries, Ian Macdonald, is reminding anglers that there is a zero bag limit for Australian bass and estuary perch in all rivers and estuaries until August 31 to protect female fish stocks.

“Both Australian bass and estuary perch form schools and migrate to parts of estuaries with the correct salinity to trigger spawning,” said Mr Macdonald.

“These great native sports fish can be vulnerable to fishing when they are in large groups.

“The zero bag limit was introduced from feedback from the community after a three-year review into NSW recreational fishing rules was finalised last year.

“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. 

“However, any Australian bass or estuary perch caught accidentally should be returned to the water as quickly as possible.”

Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Director of Wild Harvest Fisheries, Anthony Hurst, said the zero bag limit did not apply to Australian bass in freshwater impoundments and dams because bass will not breed in these areas.

“All fish in freshwater impoundments, such as Glenbawn Dam and Glennies Creek Dam in the Hunter valley, Brogo Dam near Bega and Clarrie Hall and Toonumbar Dam in the north-east of the State, are stocked fish and anglers may continue to fish under the normal bag limit of two fish per day,” said Mr Hurst.

“NSW DPI stocks approximately 150,000 Australian bass in impoundments each year from our DPI hatchery at Port Stephens Fisheries Centre, and also helps angling and community groups buy more than 100,000 Australian bass fingerlings each year for stocking under the Dollar-for-Dollar Native Fish Stocking program.

“Both the Dollar-for-Dollar program and the DPI hatchery at Port Stephens are supported by funds from the recreational fishing fee.”

NSW DPI Fisheries officers will be patrolling bass waters during the zero bag limit period to advise anglers on the fishing rules and enforce size and bag limits for other species.

Anglers should check they have a current NSW Recreational Fishing Licence, available from more than 1100 agents, including bait and tackle stores and K-Mart, online at  www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/recreational/licence-fee or on 1300 369 365. People found without a licence can be issued with an on-the-spot $200 fine.

Money raised from the recreational fishing licence is placed in trusts, overseen by angler representatives, and can only be used to create better recreational fishing opportunities.

Detailed information on fishing rules can be found in the NSW DPI Freshwater or Saltwater Fishing Guides, at NSW DPI Fisheries offices, www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/recreational/regulations, and at most bait and tackle stores.