A NSW Government website

Fin fish survival rates


Survival (%)

Key factors for fish mortality

Dusky Flathead


Poor handling and sub-optimal
live well water quality



Poor handling



Deep hooking and poor handling

Sand Whiting


Deep hooking

Silver Trevally


Excessive time in poorly designed
live wells

Pearl Perch


Deep hooking



Deep hooking and poor handling



Deep hooking

Yellowfin Bream


Deep hooking

Yellowtail Kingfish


Deep hooking

Australian Bass


Deep hooking

Golden Perch


Poor handling, sub-optimal live-well
conditions and high water temps

Murray Cod


Poor handling, excessive handling,
sub-optimal live-well conditions

Freshwater Catfish


Deep hooking

Invertebrate survival rates


Survival (%)

Key factors for fish mortality

Mud Crab


No mortality – handling damage and appendage loss

Eastern Rock Lobster


No mortality – handling damage and appendage loss

Maximising fish survival

To maximise a fish's survival when practising catch and release, it is important to follow a few simple rules:Flat head C&R

  • Use methods and rigs that increase the frequency of mouth hooked fish (rather than gut hooked), for example:
    • Target fish using artificial lures.
    • Choose non-offset circle hooks when using bait.
    • A guide to using circle hooks. If the fish is hooked deeply, cut the line as close as possible to the fish’s mouth rather than removing the hook. Compared to removing swallowed hooks from bream and mulloway, simply cutting the line increased Bream with plierstheir short-term survival from 12% to more than 85%. Up to 76% of the released line-cut, gut-hooked bream then shed their hooks within around three weeks.
  • Minimise the length of time the fish is out of the water.
  • Ideally unhook fish while it is still in the water.
  • Try to remove hooks and release fish as quickly as possible.
  • The use of needle-nosed pliers or hook retrieving devices can greatly reduce time spent unhooking.
  • Remove hooks from mouth-hooked fish.
  • Cutting fishing line after fish swallows hookUse fish-friendly landing nets with soft knotless mesh.
  • Avoid knotted landing nets which may damage the fish’s scales, skin, eyes and fins.
  • Treat fish experiencing barotrauma by using a release weight to return them to depth. See the Guide to barotrauma and release weights.
  • If live wells are used, maintain good water quality by using flow through, aerated system.
  • Poorly designed live wells reduce fish survival – particularly silver trevally where survival dropped from 98% to 63%.

Other practices to help increase survival

Other practices to help increase survival include:Release

  • Use suitable tackle for the species that you are targeting and minimise the time spent to land the fish.
  • Use barbless hooks or hooks with reduced barbs to make hook removal easier and minimise hook damage.
  • This can be achieved by squeezing barbs down with pliers, or filing down larger barbs.
  • Handle fish firmly and carefully. Avoid dropping fish onto the bottom of boats and other hard surfaces.
  • Use wet hands or wet gloves when handling fish to minimise damage to its skin.
  • A smooth, wet surface or vinyl covered foam is the most suitable surface to place fish on in order to remove hooks. Remember, many surfaces, especially metal, can become very hot in the sun.
  • Do not hold fish by the gills or the eyes.
  • Take care to revive fish upon release if they appear exhausted (struggling to hold themselves upright and/or unable to swim away).
  • Gently hold or push the fish through the water so that it obtains a good flow of water over its gills. If there is any water current, hold the fish upright facing towards the current until it starts to show signs of recovery.
  • If you are going to take photos of your fish before release, support the fish properly.

Maximising invertebrate survival

Studies carried out on recreationally caught-and-released mud crabs and eastern rock lobster have demonstrated that these species are particularly hardy. Most impact caused by catching these crustaceans is limited to physical damage; most of which occurs during handling.

While such damage did not cause any mortality in the research, it is important to acknowledge that wild crustaceans that lose appendages (especially claws/swimmers for mud crabs and antennae for lobsters) may be negatively impacted in terms of feeding, predator defence and reproduction.

To minimise any of these impacts, the following fishing and handling guidelines are suggested:


  • Ensure any crabs that are caught in nets or traps are completely untangled before removing them from the gear (particularly when using netted designs); and
  • Check hoop nets regularly and avoid 24-hour sets (to minimise damage to both crabs and gear) whenever possible.

LobstersA  rock lobster

  • If possible, do not handle undersize lobsters (due to their tendency to lose appendages);
  • Avoid contact with the antennae of lobsters during hand collection and removal from traps. Handle lobsters by the body to limit breakage of antennae; and
  • Release unwanted lobsters at the capture location and preferably underwater to minimise predation.

Catch and release mats

A catch and release measuring mat has been designed to help anglers accurately record their catch.

The mats include full colour illustrations of the most popular saltwater & freshwater species of fish and conversion tables so the approximate weight of a fish can be estimated from its length measurement.

They also include tips on the best methods to use to ensure the fish is given a maximum chance of survival after release. Large graduations on the ruler can help in the many 'Catch, Photograph and Release' fishing competitions that have emerged in recent years. The mats are manufactured from a UV stable material.

C&R Mat


Single mats  - $11.00 each mat (incl. GST)
Pack of 5 mats - $33.00 each pack (incl. GST)

Handling, postage and packaging

1 - 2 items - $10.00
3 - 10 items - $15.00
11-20 items - $20.00
More than 20 items - $30.00

How to purchase a mat

Catch and release mats can be purchased online by following your preferred link below:

For technical enquiries please contact us on (02) 4939 8888 or toll free hotline 1800 025 520.

More information