The Bay of Islands Swordfish Club, the oldest sports fishing club in the country, is advocating for the implementation of sustainable recreational fishing practices through the promotion of tag and release rules for billfish in game fishing tournaments.
As one of the 55 sports fishing clubs around the country, the Russel-based club says it’s leading the charge to ensure all clubs make tag and release and, measure and release, the preferred option in tournament rules.
“Bay of Islands Swordfish Club is leading by example. With already the best tag and release statistics for clubs on the Northland coastline, we are now also setting new levels for release of non-game fish species through measure and release,” said Club president Jeff Douglas.
The club’s point system rewards tagging and releasing game fish rather than killing them in tournaments, and in non-gamefish species, such as snapper and yellowtail kingfish, more points are awarded for measure and release.
As part of its sustainability policy, the club mandates the use of non-offset circle hooks in all baits dead or alive during tournaments. Live baiting and pitching dead baits is common practice in game fishing and scientific studies show using non-offset circle hooks over common j hooks has a much greater rate of fish survival.
Bay of Islands Swordfish Club says it tagged and released more marlin than any other club in New Zealand in 2022 and they also had the highest tag and release percentage, with 75% of all marlin recorded being tagged.