Removing nets from Port Phillip Bay

In 2014, the Victorian Government announced a commitment to grow recreational fishing in Victoria through a number of measures, including the phasing-out of all commercial netting in Port Phillip Bay by 2022. The Government is on track to deliver on this important commitment.

What's new?

Consultation has concluded on the final management arranagements to end netting in Port Phillip Bay, and the establishment of a limited hook and line snapper fishery in the bay.

After 1 April 2022, 35 of the original 43 net fishers will have exited the bay, leaving 8 commercial operators supplying fresh snapper to consumers. These fishers will no longer use nets. The gear will be limited and catch will be carefully managed.

The key characteristics of the commercial fishery post 1 April 2022 are largely set out in the fisheries legislation and include:

  • Nets will no longer be authorised in Western Port or Port Phillip Bay.
  • A snapper quota fishery will be established in Western Port/Port Phillip Bay.
  • Regulations to prohibit nets will come into effect.
  • The final Western Port/Port Phillip Bay net licence will be cancelled, and compensation paid.
  • The Minister will allocate quota units to each of the remaining 8 eligible holders of a Western Port/Port Phillip Bay Fishery Access Licence equivalent to 11 tonnes of snapper.
  • The adjustment package of $205,000 will be paid to those eligible licence holders who have not yet received their compensation.
  • Quota will be able to be traded and leased between licence holders.
  • Quota will be set at 88 tonnes and will not exceed this amount, recognising the recreational significance of the species in the Bay.
  • Licences will remain transferable and may be sold.
  • Recent finalisation of a Fisheries Notice has specified catch limits for other species.  These include annual limits of up to 1 tonne of shark per licence and up to 2 tonne of other species, excluding King George whiting, calamari, King fish and mulloway.

The final notices, including the Initial Quota order, the Further Quota Order to allocate snapper quota, and the Fisheries Notice to set catch limits, may be viewed here.

Secure seafood supply for consumers

Lovers of seafood along with chefs and restaurant owners can continue to expect a reliable supply of world-class seafood from Victoria’s pristine waters despite the removal of commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay from 1 April 2022.

Melbourne and regional Victoria are famous for their cuisine, which features fresh Victorian seafood on menus including snapper, rock lobster, scallops, abalone, trout and octopus. That’s not going to change!

Just because net fishing in the bay has ended, does not mean Victorian fish will be harder to come by.

Eight commercial fishers will remain in the bay using hooks and lines to supply more than 100 tonnes of fish annually, including up to 88 tonnes of snapper.

Victorian seafood comes from other places too including Corner Inlet in the east, which supplies annually more than 150 tonnes of King George whiting, 50 tonnes of flathead, 40 tonnes of calamari, 30 tonnes of garfish and other species too such as mullet and Australian salmon.

Large Commonwealth-managed fisheries further offshore in the ocean are also major sources of fresh seafood including flathead, blue grenadier and gummy shark (flake).

And lastly, aquaculture production of fresh fish and seafood continues to grow and supplies delicious trout, mussels, abalone and barramundi, much of which is widely available from fishmongers and supermarkets.

Continued supply of fresh Victorian pilchards for bait and human consumption

Fresh, high quality Victorian pilchards continue to be available as the premium bait for Victorian recreational fishers and a favourite for Victorian seafood consumers.

Commercial fishing off Lakes Entrance contributes the most significant volume of pilchard and white bait catch annually to Victorian markets. The annual catch from Lakes Entrance is 1,186 tonnes of pilchard and white bait and is the major supplier of fresh pilchards to Victorian restaurants and seafood consumers.