Changes to recreational fishing regulations

From 1 February 2020, some recreational fishing regulations are changing.

They include changes to the Murray cod closed season, barbed flying gaffs, hand-held spears, family fishing lakes, tethering of live fish and catch limits for bass yabbies, sea urchins, river blackfish, goatfish and Macquarie perch.

The full list of changes are in the table below and included in the printed version of the free 2020 Recreational Fishing Guide, its equivalent on our website and the VicFishing app for smartphones.

To download a fact sheet on the changes, use the links below:

Seasonal or area restrictions
The salmonid closed season for Mt Emu Creek and the Moyne River will be removed to allow fishing year-round.
Offences relating to fishing in or on Ryan’s Creek between Loombah Weir and McCallsay Weir (near Tatong) will be removed (access to these areas may be restricted by the relevant land manager).
The closed season for Murray cod south of the Great Dividing Range has been removed to allow fishing for this species year-round, except for the Yarra River where the closed season still applies. The closed season north of the Great Dividing Range (except for Lake Eildon) also continues to apply.
Catch and size limits
The daily catch limit for bass yabby (shrimp) (currently 100 bass yabby) will be replaced with a volume limit of 0.5 litres per person, per day.
The daily catch limit for goatfish (fish of the family Mullidae) will be increased from 5 to 20 per person, per day.
The daily catch limit for sea urchins will be increased from 20 to 40 per person, per day.
The daily catch limit of Macquarie perch in the Yarra River will be reduced to zero to help this species recover in this location.
The daily catch limit for river blackfish (including two-spined blackfish) will be reduced from 5 to 2 fish per person per day and the minimum size limit will be increased from 23cm to 30cm to help this species recover to more sustainable population levels.
The list of family fishing lakes will be updated (these lakes have no minimum size limit restrictions or closed season for trout and salmon to improve the fishing experience for families). New lakes will be added (e.g. Ferntree Gully Quarry) and some removed to reflect the current areas where stocking occurs.
The term ‘southern rock cod’ will be defined as species of the genera Lotella and Pseudophycis. This means species such as red cod, bearded rock cod, large tooth beardie and slender beardie will have a minimum size limit of 23 cm and a combined catch limit of 20 fish per person, per day.
Tarwhine will be included in bream size and daily catch limits to remove any confusion regarding fish identification.
The daily catch limit for swordfish and marlin has been clarified as a combined total of one fish per person, per day.
Permitted equipment
The use of barbed flying gaffs (with a hook) for game fishing will be allowed.
Hand-held spears with more than 2 prongs and barbs will be allowed to be used (in locations where hand-held spears are currently permitted).
Animal welfare matters
The tethering of live fish will be prohibited. This means live fish will no longer be permitted to be placed on stringers (keeper nets will continue to be permitted). Tethering of dead fish (e.g. for spearfishing) is permitted.
The recently introduced prohibition on the use of opera house nets for yabbying in private waters (currently in place by a Fisheries Notice), will be transferred into regulation. The use of yabby nets in public waters remains prohibited.
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander persons
Persons who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander will no longer need to obtain a Recreational Fishing Licence (where an existing exemption does not apply and subject to all other restrictions that apply to recreational fishers).

The amount of berley used for fishing in Victoria will be restricted to 10 litres in the following areas:

- Port Phillip Bay, Western Port Bay, Gippsland Lakes or any inlet of the sea, and

- within 1 nautical mile of other coastline or any island.

- The 10 L limit applies out to 3 nautical miles off Lady Julia Percy Island.

A new offence has been created for defacing or interfering with a fisheries-related sign (e.g. a sign erected by the VFA to detail catch limits).
A number of rules currently set out in Fisheries Notices have been transferred into the new regulations, including those relevant the management of Murray cod, Murray spiny freshwater crayfish, rays, golden perch, trout cod and trout. The rules specified in each notice (e.g. daily catch limits and size limits) will not change.