Artificial reefs are widely used around the world to enhance fishing opportunities. The NSW DPI offshore artificial reefs are installed to improve offshore recreational fishing opportunities by creating new fish habitat and providing additional fishing locations.
The project is constructed using funds from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and the reefs are designed and located for the benefit of recreational fishers. These reefs have been shown to provide high quality habitat for a diverse range of fish species and have proved very popular with recreational fishers around NSW.
NSW DPI promotes responsible fishing practices at all times. Whilst fishing the artificial reef, recreational fishers are encouraged to:
NSW DPI encourages all fishers to adhere to the recreational fishing reef code of conduct:
If you suspect illegal fishing activity contact your local NSW DPI fisheries office or phone Fishers Watch on free call 1800 043 536 or report online. Please record the following information before reporting:
Spearfishing is permitted on the offshore recreational fishing reef. However, it is recommended that only experienced spearfishers with adequate supervision should attempt to fish the reef. The location of the reef means that there are a number of safety issues that should be considered if you intend to dive.
Spearfishers should follow these safety recommendations:
Fish and invertebrates caught on the artificial reef are subject to the same fishing regulations that apply to other areas. Fishers should ensure they are aware of fishing regulations before they go fishing.
The artificial reef is not designed as a SCUBA diving site. Due to safety concerns, NSW DPI does not recommend SCUBA diving on the reef.
Fishers should note that it is an offence to pollute any waters in NSW. Domestic waste and incorrectly discarded fishing gear can have serious consequences for marine life. Ingesting litter or entanglement in line can cause death or serious injury.
To reduce the possibility of injury, anglers should consider using environmentally friendly fishing tackle such as lead-alternative sinkers, biodegradable line, and non-stainless hooks where possible. Garbage and waste fishing gear should be stored on board and disposed of responsibly once you are back on shore.
When fishing in waters 10m or deeper, consider the effects of "barotrauma" on fish. If symptoms are mild try to release the fish quickly without treatment. If symptoms are more advanced and likely to seriously affect buoyancy, then try assisted release using a release weight. If no release weight is available, vent the fish.
To maximise a fish's survival when releasing fish, it is important to follow a few simple rules:
Use methods and rigs that increase the frequency of mouth hooked fish (rather than deep hooked), for example:
For further information on proper releasing technique, visit the Catch and release page.
Threatened or protected species may in time reside periodically in the vicinity of the reef, however unlikely. In the case of incidental capture of any threatened or endangered animal, anglers should endeavour to return them to the water as quickly as possible and with minimal harm.
There are a number of protected species that may potentially be encountered on the reef. Notable species include critically endangered and vulnerable species including:
Please note, not just protected fish may be encountered around the reef. There are a number of additional groups of threatened species such as:
Threatened species should be avoided whilst boating by maintaining a safe seed and a good lookout at all times. The risk of hooking seabirds can be greatly reduced by trolling lures at least two metres below the surface. Boat skippers should pay particular attention to the guidelines for maintaining distance between boats and whales and dolphins in this guide.
Any entangled or injured animals should be reported to NSW DPI (02 6691 9673, email@example.com) or the Office of Environment and Heritage (131 555), firstname.lastname@example.org) as soon as possible.
NSW DPI has set up a database to record sightings of protected and threatened species. You can contribute by reporting any sightings you've made of protected or threatened aquatic species. This information will help NSW DPI better understand and manage these species. If an incidental capture does occur, please report it by:
The form can be lodged by email, fax 02 4982 1107 or post to:
Threatened Species Unit
Port Stephens Fisheries Centre
Locked Bag 1
Nelson Bay NSW 2315
While visiting the reef, it is possible that you may encounter large marine mammals either on site, on the way to, or whilst leaving the site. There are strict guidelines regarding how close vessels can approach the animals.
Generally, the approach distance is 100 metres from a whale and 50 metres from a dolphin. However, when calves are in the pod, the approach distance for a vessel increases to 300 metres from a whale and 150 metres from a dolphin.
Boats should not wait in front of the pod, nor approach the pod from the rear. Visit Roads and maritime for more information.
NSW DPI encourages safe boating, and recommends skippers consider the following:
If a dive flag is raised on a boat or towed behind a diver, you must slow down, keep well clear and keep a good lookout for divers, snorkelers or diving equipment.
The dive master on the vessel may give instructions as to where the divers under his control are located. If you are travelling at 10 knots or more, keep a minimum 60 metres from persons in the water.