Catch and Release in Shore Fishing Matches

These guidelines are issued to organisers to enable them to successfully organise and run catch and release fishing competitions where the welfare of the fish is paramount.

  • Matches should be stewarded where possible otherwise anglers should “self” steward using adjacent anglers.
  • Competitors must have a bucket of fresh sea water in which fish should be placed immediately they are caught and prior to any other activity.
  • Fish should be handled as little as possible and treated with care. The use of a disgorger and a damp cloth should be encouraged.A
  • All competitors must have an official recognised measure.
  • Fish are measured from the tip of the nose to the maximum tip of the tail (including rays), the length recorded should be rounded down to the nearest full centimetre. In the event of a dispute on size a master steward or both adjacent anglers should be used to arbitrate.
  • The fish should be returned to the sea immediately after being measured and recorded. It is the responsibility of both the angler and steward to ensure that the fish swims away. Dead fish should be picked up, have its tail cut, and be retained by the steward for disposal.
  • Fish should be recorded and returned before the next cast is retrieved.
  • At the end of the competition match cards should be underlined immediately below the last fish recorded and signed by the steward or adjacent angler. In events where the stewards are in possession of the cards then the angler must sign for his own fish.
  • Competitors should be given one point per centimetre of fish recorded. The result being decided by the competitor with the most points. Where there is a tie on points then the competitor with the most number of fish will be the winner, if there is also a tie on the number of fish then the winner will be the one with the longest fish. If there is still a tie after this the prize should be shared.

Organisers can at their discretion:

  • Allow competitors to retain fish required for consumption. Where this is allowed, the fish should have its tail cut in front of the steward or adjacent angler.
  • Set size limits below the minimum DEFRA sizes as long as all fish are returned to the sea after being recorded and provided that written agreement has been obtained from the local DEFRA Regional Office.
  • Award points per fish and give a nominal number of points for undersized fish that are not measured.
  • Give a standard size for fish. This could be useful where difficult fish to measure are likely to be caught such as eels and dogfish.
  • Set a minimum hook size.
  • Operate a weigh and return competition, but this would necessitate enough suitable sets of scales and stewards on the beach during the competition.
  • It is the organiser’s responsibility to ensure that all competitors are made fully aware of the system used in the competition.

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