Wild Catch Fishing | Oceanwatch Australia

Wild Catch Fishing

Professional fishermen harvest seafood in Australia both for local and international seafood markets. Here are some examples of common wild harvest fishing methods in Australia:


Prawn trawl nets are used by endorsed fishers in Australia in some estuaries and ocean waters to harvest a variety of prawns, fish and other species.

A prawn trawler is used to tow the net along the seafloor (demersal otter trawl). The net is held in the correct shape through the use of trawl doors (otterboards) and guided by water pressure. Trawl nets are shaped like a funnel that narrows at the anterior end of the net, referred to as the codend or bag. This is where targeted species are captured.


Fish trawls are similar to prawn trawl fishing techniques. Fish trawls may be towed in the water column (midwater) or skim across the seafloor (otter trawl or demersal trawl).

Trawl fisheries in Australia are required to use specific bycatch reduction devices to minimise the capture of non-targeted species.


Mesh nets are used by endorsed professional fishermen to harvest a variety of fish and crustacean species. Mesh nets look a lot like tennis court nets with diamond-shaped meshes. Floats on the top of the net and lead weights on the bottom of the net keep the net upright.


Seine net fishing activities are used in some estuaries and ocean beaches in Australia by endorsed fishers, to harvest a variety of seafood species. A seine net is retrieved slowly to ensure that the fishing gear maintains its shape whilst fishing. Seine nets are shaped like a funnel, where targeted seafood species are directed toward the anterior section of the net called the codend where they are caught.


Tunnel net fishing is a technique which makes use of the natural dropping of the tide, herding fish into the end of a set net, known as the tunnel.


Crab traps or pots are used by professional fishermen in estuary and ocean waters to target mainly blue swimmer crab, mud crab and spanner crab. The configuration and size of the mesh used in crab traps are regulated by state-based fisheries legislation.


Fresh water eels are harvested by professional fishers using traps in rivers and estuary waters. Fishers are restricted to the number of traps they may use, depending on state management regulations.


Fish traps may be used by endorsed professional fishers, in some estuaries and ocean waters. Fish traps are used to harvest specific species of fish and some crustaceans. Fish traps are generally made from wire mesh.


Rock lobsters are harvested in Australia by professional and recreational fishers using baited pots. There are four species of rock lobster harvested in Australia: Western, Southern, Eastern and Tropical rock lobsters.


Endorsed professional fishers may harvest several species using hand-gathering methods, including pipi, beach worms, cuttlefish bone, seaweed and pumice stone.


A variety of estuary net fisheries target prawns in Australia. These fisheries use static nets that work in conjunction with the current and tide to harvest prawns. Some estuary prawn fishing techniques use mobile fishing gear to target prawns.


Baited hooks are attached to a main line (a long line which can be up to 100km) by short lines that are called snoods. The snoods are attached to the main line using clips.

Pelagic longlines are set to drift near the surface of the ocean with a radio beacon attached so that longline fishing boats can locate them and retrieve the catch.

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