Experiencing the Great Barrier Reef is on everybody’s bucket list.
After all, it is the most spectacularly diverse ecosystem on the planet.
The Reef is so big that you can see it from the surface of the moon.
It is home to tens of thousands of animals with over 1600 species of fish from Nemo to Jaws, including many vulnerable and endangered species.
But there are right ways and wrong ways to experience the Reef and, when it comes to fish, fish ‘framing’ is the wrong way.
Fish ‘framing’ involves dangling some form of bait such as fish heads or carcasses into the water to attract large fish to the surface and sometimes right out of the water and onto the deck for a photo opportunity.
This is often done by tourism operators to impress their guests.
It is also done by fishers who accidently hook a no-take fish and want that once-in-a-lifetime photo for Facebook.
Unfortunately, this activity often involves vulnerable and endangered species such as the large Potato Cod, Queensland Grouper or Maori Wrasse.
While this may be exciting for the tourists and fishers, it can be quite harmful to the fish.
Large, heavy fish do not enjoy being pulled out of the water.
It is stressful on their bodies, particularly their jaws.
There have been cases where the strain has caused blood vessels to rupture and the fish to bleed to death.
It is not uncommon for the baited rope to become permanently entangled in the gills of the fish leading to stress and eventual death.
The best way to experience the reef, particularly the fish, is to dive and snorkel.
This gives you the opportunity to observe them in their natural environment…much better for us and definitely much better for the fish.
Top-right: The best way to enjoy fish is to observe them in their natural environment.
Middle-left: The Maori Wrasse is a protected species and should not be caught and handled out of the water.