East Coast Angling leading the way in sustainable fishing


Karlie Brady


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The team at East Coast Angling will share their knowlege about topwater and saltwater flyfishing to catch the best fish on their tours. Image: Supplied

Port Douglas fishing charter company, East Coast Angling, are leading the way in sport fishing.

East Coast Angling specialises in sport fishing styles that engage in an active and energetic lifestyle while also causing minimal trauma to fish, such as topwater fishing and saltwater fly fishing.

Owner and Captain, Nick Milford, said they try to implement as many eco-friendly practices as possible on board all their boats.

“We want to change the mindset of the average fisherman; that he doesn't feel the need to completely fill up the esky. Instead, go and enjoy the sport of catching a fish,” Mr Milford said.

“We certainly don't have a problem keeping fish on our charters, we would just like to change the mindset that you need to take home a catch equal to or more than the value of your day out for it to feel like it was worth your while.”

East Coast Angling offers a variety of tours from their multiple day tours to remote fishing locations up and down the GBR and Coral Sea on board their Mothership MV Savannah, to single-day tours on their fleet of three smaller boats out of Port Douglas and Cooktown.

Mr Milford added that whether you’re an experienced angler or you’d like to learn a new style, they are happy to share their many years of knowledge and experience in their sport fishing techniques.

“One of the reasons we practice these fishing styles is that we have been involved in programs conducting studies of barotrauma on fish.”

Barotrauma is a condition experienced by fish caught at depth that are brought quickly to the surface.

The fish can’t make the bodily changes needed to adjust to pressure changes in time and often sustain internal injuries and/or swollen swim bladders.

Upon release, they are then either unable to swim back to depth or when they do, research has shown that a large percentage will not survive due to the internal injuries.

This regular practice is wasteful in our eyes and can be minimised by topwater fishing and/or limiting the amount of bottom fishing conducted on our charters.

Mr Milford said that even when fisherman attempt to release fish correctly, it doesn’t always work.

“If you fish with a shallow water fishing technique like ours then there is extremely less trauma on the fish,” he said.

Mr Milford added not only is topwater fishing better for fish survival after capture, but it is also a very active and fun form of fishing.

“You are casting lures all day, there is not one minute of the day we just sit there waiting for a bite. Always moving the boat from place to place visually casting at reef edges and structures.

“You're visually seeing fish come up and eat your lure, so it is a very exciting and active which seems to be what is attracting people to us to try their hand at topwater fishing and saltwater flyfishing,” he said.

East Coast Angling promote sustainability not just in their fishing styles but in all their on board practices.

“For the last three years, we've had a Kick Plastic Program, so as a part of this we don't use any single-use plastic bottles on board our charters,” Mr Milford said.

He added that instead they provide reusable insulated water bottles on their trips, and drink desalinated water onboard our mothership MV Savannah.

“We've been able to save about 20 cases of bottled water a week.”

It is practices such as these that have led East Coast Angling to be the only fishing charter operation thus far to be a part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority's (GBRMPA) Reef Guardian Program.

The program involves working closely with those who use and rely on the Reef, or its catchment, for recreation or business, to help build a healthier and more resilient Reef.

“The Reef Guardian Program creates awareness for the general public about the sustainability of commercial and recreational fishing in Australia.

“We felt our business fell into all of the values associated with this so we approached GBRMPA about being part of it and after reviewing our operations, the way we conduct our business, and the reasons we do what we do, we became the first charter operation in the Reef Guardian Program, which we are very proud of.” Mr Milford said.

For more information on sustainable fishing practices visit East Coast Angling or email them at infoeastcoastangling.comau 

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