Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan
Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 43
Preferred way to cite this publication:
Department of Primary Industries (2007) Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan 2007. Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 43
The purpose of the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan (LTFRMP) is to specify the objectives, strategies and performance measures for managing fishing activities within the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve.
The LTFRMP has been prepared under the requirements of the Victorian Fisheries Act 1995 and has been developed in accordance with gazetted Ministerial guidelines. The LTFRMP prescribes fishery management arrangements for the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve in accordance with the nationally agreed framework for applying the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development to fisheries.
The LTFRMP describes:
- the geography of Lake Tyers, available information on recreational fishing activities, and other values/uses of the estuary and surrounds that may affect recreational fishing opportunities
- current management arrangements for fishing activities and for other relevant uses/values of the estuary and surrounds
- goals, objectives, performance indicators and actions for management of fishing activities in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve
- processes for participating in management of other relevant values/uses in and around the estuary, to ensure any possible concerns regarding consequences for recreational fishing can be raised and considered in the appropriate forums.
Available evidence from fishery monitoring and assessment programs indicate that current levels of fishing in Lake Tyers are sustainable and, therefore, existing fishery management arrangements will initially remain unchanged.
However, it is recognised that more information is required to inform fisheries management into the future.
New or expanded programs will be established to provide updated information on recreational fishing activities, to assess the status of the two key recreational fishing target species – dusky flathead and black bream, and to identify key fish habitats in the estuary.
If information obtained from these programs indicates a need to alter fishery management arrangements to ensure sustainable use, or to meet changing demands for recreational fishing opportunities, then changes will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.
Priorities for implementation and indicative costs of the actions identified in the LTFRMP are provided. Annual progress reports on the achievements of the LTFRMP and a 10-year review process will allow fishery management arrangements for the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve to be adapted to changing circumstances, ensuring sustainable use of fisheries resources with enhanced economic and social benefits to the community.
A reference group will be established to work with the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) to deliver the key management outcomes from the LTFRMP.
On 22 January 2004, Lake Tyers was declared a fisheries reserve under the provisions of Section 88 of the Fisheries Act 1995. The defined area of the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve is the Main Lake, Toorloo Arm below the Princes Highway Bridge and Nowa Nowa Arm below the Princess Highway Bridge. A notice published in the Victorian Government Gazette (see Appendix 1) indicates that the purpose of the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve is to:
- provide for enhanced fishing activities for recreational fishers
- improve the management of monitoring of these enhance harvesting opportunities
- improve the management and monitoring of any other issues that are likely to impact on these harvesting opportunities
- enable the development of a management plan which will:
- specify guidelines regulating or restricting equipment and activities in the Fisheries Reserve
- provide for the issue of permits by the Secretary in respect of activities in the Fisheries Reserve, and
- establish a compliance strategy framework for the reserve.
The Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan (LTFRMP) specifies the objectives, strategies and performance measures for managing fishing activities within the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve, and was developed in consultation with recreational fishers and other interested sectors of the community. The LTFRMP formalises fishery management arrangements for the next 10 years in accordance with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (described in Fletcher et al. 2002).
The LTFRMP also describes other uses, activities and environmental processes in and around Lake Tyers that may influence fishing opportunities or the productivity of fish habitats in the estuary. The LTFRMP identifies agency responsibilities and processes for management of these non-fishing uses/activities, and actions needed to ensure that any possible concerns regarding consequences for fishing or fish habitat can be raised and considered in the appropriate forums.
Description of Lake Tyers and its catchment
Lake Tyers (Figure 1) is a small estuary about 15 km east of Lakes Entrance with a total water area of about 25 sq km and a catchment area of approximately 470 sq km. The Main Lake occupies some 7 sq km and is comparatively shallow with an average depth of three to four metres (Hall 1984; NREC 1991). Most of the estuary catchment is forested and lies within existing or proposed Forest Parks, State Forests or State Parks.
Consequently, Lake Tyers does not suffer the same degree of catchment erosion and sediment deposition as some other Gippsland estuaries, although there may be some localised sedimentation from freshwater inflows in the upper reaches of the estuary (Hall 1984; NREC 1991).
The Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms are submerged extensions of the Stony and Boggy creeks respectively, with deeper waterholes up to 24 m in depth a common occurrence (Hall 1984). Rocky banks, coarse sands, siltation and submerged debris are commonly found throughout much of the Nowa Nowa and Toorloo arms (Hall 1984). Shallow waters in the Main Lake are often well mixed due to wind driven water circulation.
Waters in the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms are less well mixed due to being deeper in some places and well protected by vegetation cover along the banks. Anecdotal evidence from local observations suggests that extensive scouring and sand deposits may occur in the Toorloo Arm during flood events.
Deposits of fluvial sediment over time have resulted in the formation of mud banks near the mouth of Lake Tyers, with the substrate covered by fine grained sands. Formations near the mouth of Lake Tyers also appear to have changed with deeper holes slowly disappearing and the main channel which runs past the Number 2 boat ramp also becoming shallower.
The entrance to Lake Tyers is periodically closed by a sand bar, and may open naturally or as a result of artificial manipulation. Consequently, salinity levels, water temperature, dissolved oxygen concentrations, growth of aquatic vegetation and turbidity levels may vary substantially within the estuary (NREC 1991; MacDonald 1997).
The main freshwater inflows to Lake Tyers are from Stony and Cherry Tree creeks (on the Toorloo Arm), and Boggy and Ironstone creeks (on the Nowa Nowa Arm).
The Lake Tyers catchment supports open forests which include overstorey species like stringybarks, red box, ironbark, southern mahogany, messmate, manna gums, silvertop ash and peppermints. Grey box communities occur on many of the steep shorelines of the estuary, making shore-based access for aquatic activities difficult in some places (Hall 1984).
Banksia communities predominate on sandy soils in low lying and coastal dune areas of the estuary, and saltmarsh communities cover much of the southern shoreline and mud islands of the Main Lake. These areas provide valuable habitat to a number of bird species of high conservation value, including the Little Tern and other migratory waders.
Clearing of land for agriculture has been minimal, with cattle and sheep grazing properties found at only a few locations throughout the catchment, particularly above the Princes Highway bridge on the Boggy Creek. For further information on land status around the Lake Tyers catchment, refer to the Department of Sustainability and Environment's (DSE) 'Planning Scheme online' website at www.dse.vic.gov.au/planningschemes/. The Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust consists of both cleared and forested land along the northern banks of the Main Lake, the western shores of the Nowa Nowa Arm and the eastern shores of Blackfellow Arm.
The only substantial clearing of the catchment for residential and tourist purposes has occurred in or near the townships of Lake Tyers Beach and Nowa Nowa. Like many small coastal towns, the township of Lake Tyers Beach has experienced a significant increase in population over the past 10 years with over 500 permanent residents (Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment 2005). Since 2000, annual rainfall in the Lake Tyers catchment has varied between 505 mm and 720 mm, with an average of 620 mm (Whadcoat pers. comm. 2006). The average annual rainfall reported in the early 1980s was 856 mm (LCC 1982).
Seasonal and annual fluctuations in salinity, water temperature, water quality, habitat, food availability and whether or not the entrance is open, are all likely to influence breeding success, survival of larvae and small juveniles, rates of immigration/emigration and growth rates of fish populations in the Lake Tyers estuary (MacDonald 1997).
Declaration of Lake Tyers as a fisheries reserve
Prior to the November 2002 State election, the Victorian Government indicated its commitment to improving recreational fishing opportunities by proposing the establishment of fisheries reserves in three Gippsland estuaries: Anderson Inlet, Lake Tyers and Mallacoota Inlet. The proposals for Lake Tyers and Mallacoota Inlet included the removal of commercial fishing, other than fishing for eels and bait.
Public submissions received between October and December 2002 indicated that there was majority public support for these proposals. Lake Tyers was declared a fisheries reserve on 22 January 2004, to be managed primarily for the purpose of maintaining or enhancing recreational fishing opportunities.
Results of the 2000/01 National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey (Henry & Lyle 2003) indicated that approximately 550,000 Victorians or 13% of the State's population went recreational fishing in the 12-month period prior to May 2000. Approximately 43% of total Victorian recreational fishing events in 2000/01 occurred in bays, inlets and estuaries, including Lake Tyers. The majority of this effort was probably expended in the larger bays and estuaries such as Port Phillip Bay, Western Port and Gippsland Lakes.
The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey also found that Victorians spent approximately $400 million on goods and services associated with recreational fishing activities during 2000/01. This was equivalent to $721 per fisher per year – the highest per capita expenditure in Australia. Approximately two thirds of this expenditure occurred in the Melbourne metropolitan area, but it is nevertheless clear that recreational fishing can significantly contribute to local or regional economies.
Further analysis of Victorian data from the NRIFS has indicated that Lake Tyers contributed a small but significant component of the total Victorian recreational catches of bream and dusky flathead in 2000/01. It should be noted that the catch estimates were based on only a small number of reported fishing trips in the estuary during the survey period.
Profile of recreational fishing in Lake Tyers
Most recreational fishing in Lake Tyers is angling. In the past, there have been substantial seasonal fluctuations in recreational fishing activity with reported peaks coinciding with summer holiday and school holiday periods (Hall & MacDonald 1985). Boat-based and shore-based anglers each contributed 50% of the estimated total angler effort.
Hall & MacDonald (1985) estimated that during the survey period, over two-thirds of all recreational fishers in Lake Tyers were tourists and visitors to the area and these visitors accounted for 69% of the total angler effort. For most months of the year, boat-based angling was more popular than shore-based fishing in the Nowa Nowa Arm, whereas shore-based fishing was the favoured angling option in the Toorloo Arm zone (area defined to include the Main Lake and Fishermans Arm). The Toorloo Arm zone experienced 69% of the total annual angling effort for the estuary. The total angling effort in the Toorloo Arm zone exceeded that in the Nowa Nowa Arm for all but two months of the year (Hall & MacDonald 1985).
Boat-based recreational fishing in Lake Tyers is predominantly from small powered boats that are launched from boat ramps throughout the estuary, including Number 2 boat ramp located in the township of Lake Tyers Beach, Mill Point, Fishermans Landing and Nowa Nowa. Shore-based fishing is also available in some locations, for example around the Main Lake, at Burnt Bridge and in other designated areas along the Nowa Nowa and Toorloo arms. Much of Lake Tyers is inaccessible for this purpose. A recreational fishing charter boat also operates in Lake Tyers.
Key fish species
Information collected from the public consultation processes for the preparation of the LTFRMP suggests that in recent years, the main target species for recreational fishers in Lake Tyers have been dusky flathead and black bream. Other species that are caught in the estuary or have been targeted in the past include garfish (mostly river garfish), Australian salmon, yellow-eye mullet, tailor, silver trevally, prawns, mulloway, luderick, red gurnard, six-spined leatherjacket, tarwhine, estuary perch and sea mullet.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that targeting of prawns is dependent on the ability of the species to access the estuary when the entrance is open. Lengthy periods of closure in recent years have meant less frequent targeting of prawns in Lake Tyers.
From July 1984 to June 1985, black bream and river garfish were the two most popular target species for recreational anglers, followed by yellow-eye mullet (Hall & MacDonald 1985). Collectively, bream and garfish contributed 80% - 90% of the total annual recreational catch (both by number of fish and by weight). Smaller catches of dusky flathead, Australian salmon, luderick, silver trevally, snapper, sea mullet, King George whiting and tailor were also observed.
VicTag information for Lake Tyers
The Victorian recreational fish tagging program (VicTag) was established by recreational anglers to obtain information about fish movement and growth. Records from the Victorian recreational fish tagging program (VicTag) indicate that just over 1500 black bream varying in size from 18 cm to 40 cm were tagged and released in Lake Tyers in 2003 and 2004 (ANSA 2004). Of these, a total of 19 fish, or 1.3%, had been reported as being recaptured by the end of 2004. The recapture rate of tagged black bream in Lake Tyers was small compared with other species like dusky flathead which experienced a recapture rate of 7.6%. The lower proportion of recaptures for black bream suggests that either the species is not being targeted as much as dusky flathead in Lake Tyers, or that the relative abundance of bream is higher than dusky flathead and therefore tag recapture rates are lower.
VicTag records indicate that a total of 881 dusky flathead between 20 cm and 60 cm were tagged and released in Lake Tyers between 2003 and 2004 (ANSA 2004). A total of 67 recaptures (or 7.6% of tagged fish) were reported during this time. It should be noted that the recapture rate for dusky flathead tagged at between 30 cm and 40 cm in length was 4.8%, whereas the recapture rate for fish tagged at between 40 cm and 50 cm in length was 9.2%, and for fish tagged at between 50 cm and 60 cm was 15.5%
Fishing catch and effort
The only information on annual recreational fishing catch and effort within Lake Tyers is between July 1984 and June 1985 (Hall & MacDonald 1985).
Total daytime angling effort for the surveyed period was estimated to be 119,000 hours or 23,000 angler days with peaks in fishing activity occurring in December/January, May and August/September.
Total retained recreational catch from Lake Tyers in the study year of 1984/85 was approximately 92,000 fish with an estimated total weight of approximately 15 tonnes. Of this, approximately 10 tonnes (or 69% of total weight) was black bream, while river garfish accounted for an estimated 2.5 tonnes (or 18% of total weight).
Comparisons of the estimated 1984/85 total annual recreational catch from Lake Tyers with the reported Lake Tyers commercial catch for the same period suggested total recreational catches of black bream, river garfish and all species combined were similar in size to the corresponding commercial catches (Hall & MacDonald 1985; MacDonald 1997).
Commercial net fishing for finfish has a long history in Lake Tyers. The origins and development of the Lake Tyers commercial fishery from its commencement in the late 1880s, and summarised management arrangements and available fishery data have been provided by Hall (1984) and MacDonald (1997).
In view of the imposition of seasonal closures since the early days of the Lake Tyers commercial fishery, and the use of Lake Tyers almost exclusively by Gippsland Lakes fishers, the Lake Tyers fishery developed as a supplement to the larger Gippsland Lakes fishery and was managed accordingly. After 1987, 13 specific nontransferable Lake Tyers fishing licences were issued to operators who had a history of fishing in Lake Tyers (MacDonald 1997). The number of licences in the fishery subsequently diminished through retirements of operators and a substantial voluntary buy-back of licences in 2000.
Commercial net fishing for finfish continued until April 2003 when the remaining three licenses were cancelled. There is currently one permit that allows commercial eel fishing and several licences that authorise commercial bait fishing in Lake Tyers.
The main target species for commercial bait collectors are prawn, shrimp and sandworm. Recording of commercial finfish catches from Lake Tyers began in 1916 and ceased when the fishery closed in 2003. The main commercial fishing methods used were haul seine nets (both estuary and garfish seines) and mesh (gill) nets. From the early 1970s until its closure in 2003, commercial fishing in Lake Tyers was restricted to five months in any given year - from just after Easter until early September - to minimise conflict with recreational fishing and other water-based uses of the estuary during peak holiday periods (MacDonald 1997).
Catch and effort records indicate that annual commercial catches from Lake Tyers varied considerably with a maximum of about 56 tonnes in 1969 and a minimum of 3 tonnes in 1980 (MacDonald 1997). Catches exhibited longer term cyclic fluctuations, declining from an average of about 35 tonnes per annum in the late 1960s to a low of about eight tonnes in the late 1970s, and then increasing again to an average of about 33 tonnes through the 1990s (MacDonald 1997; DPI 2001a). This data needs to be considered in the absence of information on how fishers were changing areas, and does not necessarily reflect stock status.
Black bream was the largest and most valuable component of commercial catches, followed by luderick, mullet and silver trevally (MacDonald 1997; DPI 2001a). Catches of dusky flathead and estuary perch were generally small and incidental. The estimated wholesale market value of Lake Tyers commercial catches during the mid 1990s was around $135,000 per year (DPI 2001a). Table 1 summarises mean annual commercial finfish catches from Lake Tyers between fiscal years 1978/79 and 2002/03.
Table 1: Annual commercial fish catches (kg) from Lake Tyers during fiscal years 1978/79-2002/03
|Species||Highest annual catch (kg)||Lowest annual catch (kg)||Mean annual catch (kg)||
% of total catch|
for the period
|Garfish, all species||3421||5||465.9||1.79%|
|Mullet, all other species||13825||23||2870.6||11.04%|
|Prawn, all species||2468||3||124.3||0.48%|
|Whiting, all species||71||1||12.1||0.05%|
|All species total||48004||3530||27598||100.00%|
*Prior to 1995, species was recorded with catches of Black Bream
Biology and ecological requirements of key target recreational fish species
The following descriptions of the biological and ecological characteristics of key target recreational fish species in Lake Tyers are derived from published literature. While some recreational fishers have extensive knowledge of the distribution and behaviour of key fish species in Lake Tyers based on personal observations, there has been little or no scientific investigation of the distribution, population dynamics or ecological requirements of these fish species in the estuary.
The list of key species for the LTFRMP has been identified from the public consultation process and anecdotal evidence, and is not considered to be a definitive list of key recreational target species. Further information on species other than black bream, dusky flathead, silver trevally, river garfish and tailor can be found in Appendix 2.
Black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) is an endemic species, which inhabits estuarine waters of southern Australia from New South Wales to Western Australia. The range of black bream overlaps with the closely related yellowfin bream (Acanthopagrus australis) in southern New South Wales and East Gippsland (Kailola et al. 1993). These two species are morphologically very similar and are known to hybridise in some areas where they coexist (Rowland 1984).
Black bream is a demersal species and may be found in association with rocky river beds, snags and man-made structures (e.g. jetties), and may also be caught over seagrass beds, mud and sand substrates (Kailola et al. 1993; Cashmore et al. 2000). Black bream are rarely found at sea although some adult bream may migrate between estuaries (Hall 1984).
Larvae and small juvenile black bream are thought to be found primarily amongst seagrass beds because of the availability of small invertebrate prey and adequate shelter for the species (Kailola et al. 1993; Cashmore et al. 2000).
Spawning for this species can occur from August to the following January in any given year, but the peak is usually in October/November. Bream spawning usually begins later in western Victorian estuaries than in Gippsland estuaries (Cadwallader & Backhouse 1983). Within the Gippsland Lakes, bream have been found to spawn from September to December.
Anecdotal evidence from local anglers participating in the Lake Tyers Fish Habitat Assessment workshops suggests that bream spawning occurs in the deeper, more protected waters of the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms and that post spawning bream may also aggregate around the seagrasses on the edge of the Main Lake (DPI 2006a).
The survival of black bream larvae appears to be heavily dependent on suitable salinity and water temperature conditions as well as food and habitat availability (Kailola et al. 1993; Cashmore et al. 2000).
Female black bream first spawn at approximately 24 cm in length and can release between 300,000 and 3 million eggs depending on environmental conditions. Males become sexually mature at 22 cm (Kailola et al. 1993).
Juvenile black bream feed primarily on polychaetes with bivalves and amphipods considered a secondary component of their diet (Cashmore et al. 2000). Adult black bream are considered to be opportunistic feeders, with prey items including bivalve and gastropod molluscs, prawns and crabs, polychaete worms and other small demersal fish, possibly including juvenile bream (Kailola et al. 1993; Cashmore et al. 2000).
Anecdotal evidence obtained from fishers participating in the Lake Tyers Fish Habitat Assessment workshop in 2006 suggests that adult black bream will move around the estuary throughout the year and are likely to be caught around snags in the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms (DPI 2006a).
Dusky flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) are an endemic species to Australia and are found in bays, estuaries and inshore coastal areas from Cairns in Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria (Kailola et al. 1993).
Dusky flathead may be found residing over mud, silt, sand and gravel beds as well as seagrass beds (predominantly Zostera spp.) (Kailola et al. 1993). Anecdotal evidence from anglers presented at the Lake Tyers Fish Habitat Assessment workshops suggests that in Lake Tyers, dusky flathead appear to congregate around the Main Lake in October/November and then move upstream around Easter (DPI 2006a). Dusky flathead appear to prefer to reside in drop-offs in the Main Lake, or in shallow waters (<20 cm) during early morning and late afternoons (DPI 2001b).
Dusky flathead are thought to spawn from January to March in Victorian waters (Kailola et al. 1993). Anecdotal evidence obtained from the first public submission process indicates that dusky flathead spawn in December/January and begin to move upstream from the Main Lake around February each year.
Further anecdotal observations suggest that in Lake Tyers, the important spawning grounds may be in the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms as well as seagrass and unvegetated shallows around the Main Lake. However, it is possible that dusky flathead spawn in open coastal waters or estuaries up the east coast may also be a source of juvenile recruitment to Lake Tyers when the entrance is open.
Dusky flathead attain first sexual maturity at a larger size in warmer waters compared with cooler waters (Kailola et al. 1993). Dusky flathead are ambush predators with prey including other fish (mullet or whiting), crabs, prawns, other crustaceans and polychaete worms (Kailola et al. 1993).
Kailola et al. (1993) suggest that dusky flathead populations may have been affected by loss of seagrass, sedimentation and changes in habitat and environment, particularly in east coast estuaries and inlets.
Anecdotal evidence and information collected from the public submission process for the preparation of the LTFRMP, suggests that dusky flathead can be caught all year round in Lake Tyers.
Trevally species of the genus Pseudocaranx are widespread in temperate and sub-tropical waters of Australia, New Zealand, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean (James 1984). Silver trevally in Victorian, Tasmanian, South Australian and Western Australian waters consist of two very similar species, P. dentex and P. wrighti (Gomon et al. 1994).
Juvenile silver trevally occur over soft substrates in estuaries, bays and shallow coastal waters, whilst adults are found either in shallow coastal waters or form pelagic schools in deeper waters off the continental shelf (Last et al. 1983; James 1976). Spawning occurs during summer (Lenanton 1977). Adult fish in spawning condition have been recorded from both estuaries and offshore areas (Winstanley 1985), but spawning habitat preferences have not been identified. Anecdotal evidence from anglers suggests that adults migrate into the estuary when the bar has been breached and subsequently become trapped (DPI 2001b). Also, silver trevally appear to undergo rapid growth in Lake Tyers and are in good condition when caught by anglers (DPI 2006a).
Silver trevally can live for more than 40 years (James 1978) and have been reported to grow up to a total length of 94 cm (Hutchins & Swainston 1986) and up to 6.0 kg in weight (Last et al. 1983). Trevally larger than about 38 cm length are uncommon in Victorian bays, estuaries and shallow coastal waters.
Silver trevally are opportunistic carnivores, adapted to both benthic and planktonic feeding modes. Their benthic diet consists of polychaete worms, molluscs and small crustaceans, while surface schools of trevally consume planktonic crustaceans - particularly euphausids (krill). Juvenile trevally mainly consume microcrustaceans (Winstanley 1985). Seasonal feeding preferences occur in adult trevally with a summer diet of essentially crustaceans shifting to mainly bivalve molluscs and teleosts in winter (Anon., 1981). Anecdotal evidence from anglers suggests that in Lake Tyers, silver trevally feed on prawn and baitfish (DPI 2006a).
River garfish & southern sea garfish
There are two distinct species of garfish that live at least part of their life cycle in Lake Tyers: river garfish (Hyporhamphus regularis) and southern sea garfish (Hyporhamphus melanochir). River garfish is thought to consist of two subspecies – one on the east coast of Australia and one on the west coast of Western Australia (Kailola et al. 1993). River garfish may be distinguished from the southern sea garfish by the following:
- less deeply forked tail fin
- greener coloured back
- robust scales which do not easily detach
- red tip on the beak like lower jaw.
Eastern river garfish occur in a wide range of estuaries from southern Queensland to Wilsons Promontory in eastern Victoria (Kailola et al 1993; Gomon et al 1994). River garfish are surface schooling and found over seagrass beds, particularly eel grass or vegetated bottoms (Kailola et al 1993).
Little is known about the life history of river garfish (Ramm 1986). The maximum size, life expectancy or age at maturity for this species is unknown. Spawning in spring was observed in the Gippsland Lakes by Ramm (1986) with eggs attaching to seagrass. The stomach contents of larger juveniles and adult river garfish are composed almost entirely of seagrass (Rigby 1984).
River garfish of all sizes are found throughout the Lake Tyers estuary, and there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that the species breeds in the upper reaches of the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms (DPI 2001b).
The southern sea garfish is found in marine waters from Eden in New South Wales to Kalbarri in Western Australia (Paxton et al. 1989).
In Victoria, southern sea garfish spawn between October and March and produce relatively few but large eggs (Jones 2002). Southern sea garfish are also known to be serial batch spawners. Eggs are thought to be transparent and have filaments, which enable them to attach to aquatic vegetation – particularly seagrasses (Kailola et al. 1993).
Juvenile southern sea garfish often inhabit sheltered marine waters for at least the first year of their life (Jones et al. 2002). It is thought that the species attains first sexual maturity between 13-15 months of age with the size at first maturity being around 23 cm total length in Victorian waters (Jones et al. 2002). Southern sea garfish are reported to grow up to 52 cm in length and 0.4 kg in weight (Kailola et al. 1993).
Southern sea garfish are omnivores and have been reported to feed on seagrass, algaes and diatoms which live on seagrass blades during the day, while feeding on small invertebrate animals (ie amphipods and worms) at night (Kailola et al. 1993). The species has been known to feed on terrestrial insects which have been blown from the land to the water (Kailola et al. 1993).
Tailor (Pomatomus saltatrix) has a wide distribution that occurs from the northern tip of Fraser Island in Queensland to Onslow in Western Australia (Kailola et al. 1993). Lower numbers of tailor are caught in Tasmania and western Victorian waters compared with the west and east coasts of Australia. The species is considered rare in the Great Australian Bight and South Australia (Kailola et al. 1993).
Tailor are known to spawn off the north east coast of Fraser Island, with further spawning grounds suspected along the northern coast of New South Wales (Halliday 1990).
The species is known to aggregate prior to spawning which occurs during late winter and spring (Kailola et al. 1993). Larval and juvenile tailor are generally found in estuarine environments until they are approximately 35-45 cm in length. During their second year, juveniles are thought to school and move to oceanic waters (Kailola et al. 1993).
Tailor may grow to a size of 15 cm by the end of their first year of life and can exceed 60 cm in total length by the age of five years (Kailola et al. 1993). Maturity in most individuals occurs at a total length of 30 cm and approximately two years of age, although it is thought that males tend to be slightly smaller at maturity than females (Kailola et al. 1993).
Tailor may feed on garfish, whiting, squid and mullet al.though small shoaling pelagic fish like pilchards and anchovies are more common (Hall 1984).
Anecdotal evidence suggests that some tailor appear to be residents of Lake Tyers, although it is unlikely that the species breed in the estuary. Recruitment of tailor appears to be from the ocean when the bar has been breached (DPI 2001b).
Significance of Lake Tyers to Traditional Owners
Prior to European settlement, the Lake Tyers area and much of the Gippsland region was part of the Country of the Gunai/Kurnai People. The Gunai/Kurnai People consisted of five clans: Bratowoloong, Brayakoloong, Brabuwooloong, Tatungoloong and Krowathunkooloong. The Krowathunkooloong and Brabuwooloong people shared part of the waters of Lake Tyers. Members of the clans were hunters and fishers who spent most of their time along the coastline, rivers and estuaries where fresh water and a diverse range of food was plentiful (Coutts 1981; EGCMA 2005).
Bone hooks, spears and nets including drag and mesh, were used by Traditional Owners fishing in Lake Tyers to catch snapper, gurnard, flounder, garfish, mullet, bream, trevally and flathead (Vanderwal 1994). Mussels were also collected and highly valued as a source of food (Vanderwal 1994).
Lake Tyers and surrounding country is still used by and has great cultural significance for, aboriginal people/Traditional Owners based on traditions – including landscape and seascape values – descended from the original Indigenous custodians of Country in this area.
Sites and places of cultural significance
There are a large number of significant aboriginal cultural locations in and around Lake Tyers, including sites which contain artefacts, and places of spiritual and or cultural significance.
Artefact scatters, scar trees, burials/conflict sites, middens, pre-contact association places and selfdetermination sites are found on the banks of the estuary and up to a few hundred metres inland. All sites of cultural significance and artefacts are currently protected by a combination of State (e.g. the Aboriginal and Archaeological Relics Preservation Act 1972) and Commonwealth legislation (e.g. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984). Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV) is the authority responsible for the administration of those Acts.
Enquiries in relation to registered or noted sites of cultural significance should be directed to AAV. Any proposed works or use of Crown land are required to be carried out in accordance with the 'future acts' provision of the Native Title Act 1993, the Aboriginal and Archaeological Relics Preservation Act 1992, and part IIA of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984.
Information regarding Indigenous fishing activities and controls on these activities can be found under the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of this Plan.
Other uses of Lake Tyers
Lake Tyers is a popular destination for visitors and residents to engage in a number of shore-based and water-based recreational activities. Visitors and residents primarily use Lake Tyers for fishing, swimming and nature-based activities (Shire of Tambo 1991).
Watercraft uses of Lake Tyers include recreational boating, wind surfing, canoeing, kayaking, kite surfing, sailing, personal water-craft and waterskiing. Canoeing and kayaking occur throughout the estuary, while wind surfing and kite surfing are restricted to the bottom end of the Main Lake where higher winds allow for such usage.
Water-skiing and personal water-craft use are popular around Mill Point, Lonely Bay and Blackfellow Arm where water depths and shelter from winds are conducive to such activities. Swimming and snorkelling by residents and visitors also occur within the estuary. A nature-based tour vessel operates from Fishermans Landing.
Water-craft access to Lake Tyers is from a number of locations including Number 2 boat ramp situated in the township of Lake Tyers Beach, Nowa Nowa boat ramp, Fishermans Landing boat ramp and Mill Point boat ramp. Number 2 boat ramp is mainly used by anglers, while Mill Point is popular for boating activities including boat-based fishing, water-skiing and the use of personal water-craft due to its direct access to deep water.
The increasing demand for these water-based activities, particularly during peak holiday periods, may lead to congestion both on the water and at boat launching access points. A small number of swing moorings are situated in Fishermans Arm. Management of moorings is through a licensing/permit system administered by the DSE. Further information on moorings can be obtained through Gippsland Ports, the East Gippsland Shire Council or DSE.
Major shore-based activities around Lake Tyers have been identified by Parks Victoria (www.parkweb.vic.gov.au) as including birdwatching, bushwalking, picnicking, and camping. Some activities may be restricted due to limited shore access, high water levels or in order to meet natural resource management objectives, particularly in the Lake Tyers Forest Park (LTFP). Camping is permitted on the eastern edge of the Nowa Nowa Arm in three designated camping areas: The Glasshouse, Camerons Arm No. One Track and Trident Arm (Parks Victoria 2002 or www.parkweb.vic.gov.au).
Intensive use of some of the foreshore locations, in particular the township of Lake Tyers Beach, Mill Point and Nowa Nowa, has resulted in environmental degradation including the removal of native vegetation, erosion from uncontrolled vehicle and pedestrian access, and pest plant establishment.
Current management arrangements
Following the removal of commercial fishing (other than for eels and bait) from Lake Tyers in April 2003, and the declaration of Lake Tyers as a fisheries reserve in January 2004, the focus for fisheries management has shifted towards maintaining and, where possible, improving recreational fishing opportunities in Lake Tyers. The following sections describe the policy framework, legislative tools, management processes and current controls that apply to recreational fishing in Lake Tyers and other Victorian waters.
Legislative and policy framework for fisheries management
Fishing activities in Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve and in all Victorian public waters are managed under the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1995 (the Act) and the Fisheries Regulations 1998 (the Regulations).
The Act provides a legislative framework for the regulation and management of Victorian fisheries and for the conservation of fisheries resources, including their supporting aquatic habitats. The stated objectives of the Act are:
- to provide for the management, development and use of Victoria's fisheries, aquaculture industries and associated aquatic biological resources in an efficient, effective and ecologically sustainable manner
- to protect and conserve fisheries resources, habitats and ecosystems including the maintenance of aquatic ecological processes and genetic diversity
- to promote sustainable commercial fishing and viable aquaculture industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities for the benefit of present and future generations
- to facilitate access to fisheries resources for commercial, recreational, traditional and nonconsumptive uses
- to encourage the participation of resource users and the community in fisheries management.
The Act also provides for the development, implementation and review of fisheries reserve management plans, facilitates participation of stakeholders in fisheries management via fisheries co-management arrangements, and prescribes enforcement powers to assist in achieving compliance with fishing controls.
The Regulations prescribe detailed management arrangements for individual commercial and recreational fisheries, including licence requirements, restrictions on fishing equipment and methods, restrictions on fishing catch and or effort (bag limits, size limits, closed seasons/areas), and penalties for breaches of fishing controls.
It is important to note that the provisions of fisheries legislation (including Fisheries Notices) can only be applied to the control of fishing activities. Other human activities (e.g. catchment land use, foreshore development, competing water-based recreational activities) that may directly or indirectly affect fish habitats, fishery resources or the quality of fishing, are managed by different agencies under a variety of other legislation.
All Australian governments, including Victoria, have made a commitment to manage fisheries according to the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). These principles include:
- ensuring that fishing is carried out in a biologically and ecologically sustainable manner
- ensuring that there is equity within and between generations regarding the use of fish resources
- maximising economic and social benefits to the community from fisheries within the constraints of sustainable utilisation
- adopting a precautionary approach to management – particularly for fisheries with limited data
- ensuring that the processes and procedures involved in management of a fishery are appropriate, transparent and inclusive.
There is a community expectation that utilisation of fish resources will be managed according to ESD principles, and they have been followed during the development of the LTFRMP.
Indigenous fishing activities
The provisions of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993 apply to all types of management of Lake Tyers.
An application for a native title determination which covers parts of East Gippsland including Lake Tyers, was lodged with the Federal Court by the Gunai/Kurnai People in 1997.
In November 2000, the Victorian Government signed a Native Title Protocol with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and the native title representative body, Native Title Services Victoria. The protocol required the development of a Statewide policy framework to address a broad range of native title related issues, including fisheries.
Initial discussions with stakeholder groups have been held to identify fisheries issues relating to native title.
The Victorian Government is currently working with Indigenous community representatives, Commonwealth and State fisheries authorities and other fishing stakeholders to develop a national set of principles and pathways to facilitate: definition and lasting recognition of customary fishing practices; increased opportunities for economic engagement of Indigenous communities in fisheries-related enterprises; and increased Indigenous participation in all aspects of fisheries use and management.
Current controls on fishing
Recreational fishing licence
A Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL) is required for angling, bait pumping, hand collecting and all other forms of recreational fishing in Victorian public waters, including Lake Tyers. Some sectors of the community, including people under 18 or over 70 years of age, holders of a Victorian Seniors Card, and recipients of various age and or disability benefits, are exempt from the need to hold a RFL.
Recreational fishing equipment
The Regulations define 'recreational fishing equipment' as including a rod and line, handline, dip/landing net, bait trap, spear gun, hand-held spear, bait pump, recreational bait net and recreational hoop net. Recreational use of any equipment not included in this definition is prohibited in all Victorian public waters. The maximum permitted dimensions of dip nets, bait traps, bait pumps, recreational bait nets and recreational hoop nets are prescribed in the Regulations and summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
Inland and marine waters
Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve contains both marine and inland waters. Marine waters in Lake Tyers are defined as being downstream of the Princes Highway Bridge in the Toorloo Arm and downstream of the junction with Ironstone Creek in the Nowa Nowa Arm. All waters upstream of these two points are considered to be inland waters for the purposes of fisheries management. Restrictions on the use or possession of recreational fishing equipment in Victorian inland and marine waters are prescribed in the Regulations and summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide. Most notably, anglers are currently restricted to using no more than two lines each in inland waters and no more than four in waters classified as marine. The use or possession of spear guns or hand held spears is prohibited in Lake Tyers.
Size and catch limits
Legal minimum sizes, bag limits, possession limits (in, on or next to fishing waters) and vehicle limits for fin fish and invertebrate species that may apply to recreational fishers in Lake Tyers are prescribed in the Regulations or current Fisheries Notices, and are summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
Some size and catch limits have been introduced as measures to protect fish stocks from unsustainable fishing pressure. However, many of these limits have been adopted on ethical or cultural grounds, such as defining a reasonable take for personal consumption.
Since December 2003, recreational fishing for dusky flathead in Lake Tyers and other Victorian waters has been subject to interim stricter catch limits, introduced by Fisheries Notice to protect dusky flathead from increased targeting by anglers using increasingly sophisticated recreational fishing techniques.
Requirement to land fish in whole or carcass form
For some fish species with high commercial market value and which are subject to size limits, there is a requirement to retain captured fish in whole or carcass form until after they have been landed (brought ashore) in order to ensure compliance with recreational size and catch limits. Marine or estuarine fish species required to be landed in whole or carcass form include all shark species, elephant fish, King George whiting, bream, snapper and eels. In the case of sharks and elephant fish, 'carcass' means a fish which has been gutted and headed forward of the first gill slit, but has not been skinned or filleted. In the case of scale fish, 'carcass' means a fish which has been scaled and gutted, but has not been headed or filleted.
Intertidal collection of shellfish
Controls on intertidal collection of shellfish and other invertebrate animals are prescribed in the Regulations and are summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide. Currently, shellfish and other invertebrate animals may be collected by hand or using an approved bait pump from most Victorian intertidal waters, including Lake Tyers. The use of a scoop, dredge, fork, spade, rake, shovel or other digging implement to collect invertebrate species from the intertidal zone throughout Victoria is prohibited.
Fishing by Indigenous Australians
The only types of fishing activities currently defined under the provisions of the Act and the Regulations are commercial fishing, recreational fishing and aquaculture. Access to Victorian waters for each of these types of fishing requires a licence or permit (although some categories of recreational fishers are exempt from this requirement), and is subject to a range of licence conditions and or regulations.
Customary fishing practices by Indigenous Australians are not identified as a distinct type of fishing activity under current Victorian legislation, and non-commercial fishing by Indigenous Australians is therefore treated as recreational fishing.
The Act does provide for the issue of permits to facilitate the taking of a quantity of fish and other species that would otherwise be prohibited for specified Indigenous cultural ceremonies or events.
Fishery co-management arrangements
Co-management is an inclusive arrangement that brings industry, community and government together to participate in the management of a natural resource. It assists those involved by improving their collective understanding of individual stakeholder needs and aspirations and by identifying behavioural modifications that can increase the long term viability of the resource – and therefore continued access to that resource by user groups.
The co-management of fisheries within Victoria is a process involving three entities. The first comprises the peak bodies, including VRFish and Seafood Industry Victoria. The second entity comprises the Fisheries Comanagement Council (FCC) and its expertise based committees.
Finally, the third entity is the government agencies, including the DPI of which Fisheries Victoria is a division.
The above co-management entities seek to ensure that fisheries interests are appropriately acknowledged and represented during consultation processes regarding decisions that may have an impact on any given fishery.
Management of non-fisheries uses/values in and around
Lake Tyers Wildlife and native vegetation protection
Lake Tyers and its shores contain a variety of terrestrial and aquatic habitats that support a diverse array of plant and animal species and communities, some of which may be protected under State (e.g. the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 and the Planning and Environment Act 1987) and Commonwealth legislation (e.g. the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999).
The islands, mudbanks, shoreline vegetation and saltmarsh communities found in Lake Tyers are home to a large number of species including migratory birds and waders including the little tern which is listed under Schedule 3 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. There are no known rare or threatened finfish species found within the boundaries of the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve.
Species that have been listed as threatened under Schedule 3 of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 require Action Statements specifying measures to protect listed species to be developed. Implementation of Action Statements is the responsibility of the DSE, with input from other stakeholders.
Coastal salt marsh communities occur mainly around the southern shoreline of the Main Lake, including The Glasshouse and in Fishermans Arm. Stands of seagrass, including fine-leaf eel grass (Zostera spp.), Ruppia spp. and Lepilaena spp. (water mat) cover substantial areas of the estuary, particularly the bottom end of the Main Lake, Fishermans Arm and Nowa Nowa Arm (Ducker et al. 1977; Roob & Ball 1997).
Seagrass and salt marsh communities are thought to provide important habitat, feeding and nursery grounds for a range of aquatic biota, including fish species (Lynch et al. 2004).
Much of Lake Tyers adjoins the Lake Tyers Forest Park (LTFP) managed by Parks Victoria. The LTFP covers 7,100 hectares and extends from Pettmans Beach, inland to Mount Nowa Nowa, and to the eastern side of the entrance of Lake Tyers. For information and a map of the LTFP, please refer to the Lake Tyers Forest Park – Park Notes (Parks Victoria 2002 or www.parkweb.vic.gov.au).
Objectives and strategies for protection of biodiversity around sections of Lake Tyers are described in the Victorian Biodiversity Strategy (DNRE 1997), the Lake Tyers Beach and Surrounds Strategy Plan (Shire of Tambo 1991) and in sections of the Draft Lake Tyers Beach Urban Design Framework (Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment 2005).
Foreshore use and management
The foreshore adjoining the township of Lake Tyers Beach, particularly between the main carpark and Number 2 boat ramp, is a focal point for fishing, walking, sightseeing, boat launching and swimming and is managed by the East Gippsland Shire Council (EGSC).
Shore-based recreational activities tend to be concentrated around boating access points such as Number 2 boat ramp, Mill Point, Fishermans Landing and Nowa Nowa.
Parks Victoria manages a number of picnic areas around the estuary including Mill Point. Access to these picnic areas is by vehicle, walking or from the water by vessel. Basic camping with limited facilities is provided for at The Glasshouse, Camerons Arm No. One Track and Trident Arm.
The Happy Valley Track, Camerons Arm tracks, Reedy Arm tracks, Trident Arm Track and Lake Tyers Road are open to the public and provide vehicle and or pedestrian access to the waters edge on the eastern side of the Nowa Nowa Arm. Burnt Bridge Road and associated tracks including Blackfellow Arm Road, Pile Bay Road, Long Point Track, Cherry Tree Track and South Boundary Road provide access to the Toorloo Arm. Access to the Lonely Bay Walking Track is from Blackfellow Arm Road. Access to Lonely Bay and Blackfellow Arm is by foot or the water. Burnt Bridge, located along Burnt Bridge Road, is currently closed to public access (both vehicle and foot traffic) to ensure public safety. Parks Victoria is working with the community to determine future management arrangements for the Burnt Bridge site.
Strategic directions identified in the Victorian Coastal Strategy (VCC 2002) include the requirement that public access to coastal Crown land will be maintained except where the interests of security, safety or protection of coastal resources predominate. The Victorian Coastal Strategy also specifies that public access to existing shore-based fishing facilities such as piers and jetties will be maintained except where there are safety and security issues. New structures to accommodate access for fishing will be considered where this is supported by the appropriate land manager.
Detailed management proposals for foreshores around the township of Lake Tyers Beach, are described in the Lake Tyers Beach and Surrounds Strategy Plan (Shire of Tambo 1991) and the Draft Lake Tyers Beach Urban Design Framework (Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment 2005).
These documents contain proposals to improve vehicle access to Number 2 boat ramp, establish walking paths along popular foreshores to prevent unrestricted access, protect aquatic and terrestrial flora and fauna, and provide appropriate facilities for fishing and boating activities.
Management of recreational boating and water-craft
Gippsland Ports has been designated as the 'waterway manager' for Lake Tyers in accordance with the Marine Act 1988 and is responsible for ongoing maintenance of navigational markers, channels and the designation of boating speed zones.
Boating activities in Lake Tyers are managed under the provisions of the Marine Act 1988 which is administered by Marine Safety Victoria (MSV). Recommendations for changes to boating regulations (including the designation of waterskiing zones and vessel speed limits) in places such as Lake Tyers may arise through public consultation processes conducted by Gippsland Ports and EGSC.
For further information on boating in this waterway, please refer to Gippsland Ports and MSV.
The Gippsland Boating Coastal Action Plan (GBCAP) (GCB 2002) provides direction for the future management of safe and environmentally friendly boating throughout the Gippsland coastal region. It also provides a framework for accommodating multiple uses and users of Gippsland waters. The GBCAP identifies appropriate boating activities for 'coastal estuaries' like Lake Tyers as being active non-powered (i.e. sailing), passive non-powered (i.e. canoeing) and passive powered boating (i.e. fishing). Active powered boating like water-skiing and fast cruising is identified as being more appropriate in lakes (inland or coastal) and marine waters.
Provision and maintenance of foreshore boating facilities and boating navigational aids
Parks Victoria, EGSC and a local Committee of Management are respectively responsible for the installation, maintenance and management of boat launching facilities and jetties around Lake Tyers. Management of waterways, including installation, maintenance and management of navigational aids, is the responsibility of Gippsland Ports.
A local Committee of Management manages the jetty and associated boat ramp located at Nowa Nowa. GBCAP noted that both the ramp and jetty at Nowa Nowa were affected by flooding in 1998. As a result, the EGSC rebuilt the jetty with Timber Towns grant funding in 2002/2003.
The Number 2 boat ramp and associated jetties found within the township of Lake Tyers Beach are managed by the EGSC. EGSC recently upgraded the Number 2 boat ramp in accordance with the recommendations made by the GBCAP. At Mill Point, a boat launching ramp, small picnic area and restricted car parking with steep access is provided and managed by Parks Victoria. The GBCAP recommends that the ramp be retained in its present condition.
Number 1 boat ramp (below the main carpark in the township of Lake Tyers Beach) has been recommended for closure by the GBCAP. The management of Fishermans Landing (jetty and boat ramp) currently lies with EGSC. There are no recommendations made in the GBCAP to upgrade these facilities.
A number of houseboats are permitted to moor in the waters of Lake Tyers through issue of a swing mooring licence which is administered by the DSE on behalf of the EGSC.
The GBCAP recommends that a boat sewerage pump-out program be developed for Lake Tyers. Gippsland Ports are intending to undertake a full hydrographic survey in Lake Tyers. Reassessment of the location of navigational markers and channels will occur once the survey has been completed.
Management of dredging
Management of dredging activities (e.g. deepening of the Fishermans Arm channel where it enters the Main Lake) is the responsibility of the DSE. Any decision to dredge in the waters of Lake Tyers is made by the DSE in consultation with the EPA, and requires Coastal Management Act 1995 consent.
All dredging is required to be undertaken in accordance with the State Environment Protection Policies and associated EPA dredging policies. Potential adverse impacts of dredging, particularly in areas of seagrass, may include physical damage from dredging, shading or smothering of important aquatic vegetation through suspension, dispersal and re-settlement of dredged sediments, and production of deep holes in which water may become anoxic (Lynch et al. 2004).
Integrated management of Gippsland estuaries
The Gippsland Coastal Board (GCB), in partnership with the West and East Gippsland Catchment Management Authorities, has developed a Gippsland Estuaries Coastal Action Plan. The Plan was formally approved in November 2006.
Coastal Action Plans (CAP) are developed under the provisions of the Coastal Management Act 1995 to address coastal issues and implement the objectives of the Victorian Coastal Strategy at a regional level.
The Gippsland Estuaries CAP aims to provide a strategic framework for the future use, development and management of the major riverine estuaries, including artificial openings, within the Gippsland Region. Implementing the Gippsland Estuaries CAP will help to maintain or enhance aquatic and terrestrial environments and biodiversity, while maximising social and economic benefits from the use of estuaries.
Artificial entrance openings
The entrance at Lake Tyers can open as a result of both natural and artificial processes. In the past, the entrance has been opened artificially when high water levels threatened to inundate infrastructure and land surrounding the estuary. The last known natural entrance opening of Lake Tyers occurred in June 1998, with the estuary closing again by January 1999. In April 2002 the entrance was artificially opened, but closed naturally in January 2003.
Currently, the DSE and the EGSC have the responsibility for any decision regarding artificial entrance openings at Lake Tyers in consultation with Parks Victoria, Gippsland Ports, the DPI (Fisheries Victoria), the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) and community representatives. All works associated with entrance openings at Lake Tyers are currently managed by the DSE.
Entrance opening works may require a Works on Waterways Permit from the EGCMA and a permit from Gippsland Ports for works on waters within Gippsland Ports jurisdiction.
The Gippsland Estuaries CAP specifies a need to develop a decision support system for artificial openings of entrances and a need to identify and involve all appropriate stakeholders.
At a statewide level, a Steering Committee has been formed to prepare an Estuary Entrance Management Support System (EEMSS). The EEMSS will assist managers to decide whether or not to artificially open an estuary entrance and under what conditions. It is anticipated that the EEMSS will be applicable for Gippsland estuaries, including Lake Tyers. Experts in relevant disciplines (including fisheries) and the community will be engaged to ensure that consideration is given to all possible environmental, social and economic impacts and benefits associated with the opening.
A number of options for the management of entrance openings are currently being considered by management agencies at both a statewide and regional level but are yet to be finalised.
Management of catchment activities and their impacts
The EGCMA was formed under the provisions of the Catchment and Land Management Protection Act 1994 and the Water Act 1989. The EGCMA works with the regional community, industry and government stakeholders to coordinate the development and implementation of strategies for integrated management of land and water resources in East Gippsland, including Lake Tyers.
The East Gippsland Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) identifies issues affecting all land and water within the East Gippsland Region regardless of management obligations or ownership. The RCS identifies six classes of assets; freehold land, state forest, parks, coastal and marine, groundwater, and catchment assets. Threats to the integrity of these assets and actions to manage assets have been identified (EGCMA 2005).
General threats to the catchment asset class, as identified by the RCS, include:
- effects of inappropriate land use (including planning) on the environment, natural resource production and landscape amenity
- agricultural practices leading to offsite impacts and landscape changes
- introduction of pest plants and animals and their potential impacts on the environment as well as natural resource production.
Implementation of management actions in the RCS will rely on a number of agencies and key stakeholders within the region, including the DSE, the DPI, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA), Parks Victoria, local government, private landholders and community based programs such as Landcare, Coast Action/Coastcare and Waterwatch.
The East Gippsland Regional River Health Strategy (RHS) is a sub-strategy to the RCS. Threats to the health of Stony Creek and Boggy Creek, the two major watercourses flowing into Lake Tyers, are identified in the RHS (EGCMA, 2006), and include:
- presence of weeds, including willows
- bed instability and loss of in-stream habitat
- damage to river health from inappropriate development.
Management actions identified through the RHS to address these threats include:
- control or eradication of riparian weeds including blackberry, blue periwinkle, bridal creeper, kikuyu, willows and poplars
- foreshore and bank revegetation programs and retention of large woody debris
- review the activities of all agencies with regard to river health implications.
Management of forestry activities
Erosion resulting from forestry practices can potentially contribute to increased sediment loads in waterways. These sediments may affect water quality and cause physical damage through smothering of important aquatic vegetation through re-settlement. A build-up of sedimentation may also impede fish migration to spawning, nursery and or feeding grounds.
The DSE is responsible for the overall management of Victoria's State Forests and identifies broad areas available for harvesting activities. VicForests, a State-owned enterprise, manages the harvest and commercial sale of timber from these forests. The DSE must approve any specific locations that VicForests nominate to be harvested.
Forestry practises on public land are undertaken in accordance with a number of plans, strategies and legislation including the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production, Utilisation Procedures which specifies guidelines for management of forestry practices adjoining watercourses, the Sustainable Forest (Timber) Act 2004 and associated Forest Management Plans.
The East Gippsland Timber Release Plan is scheduled for review in July 2007, while the East Gippsland Forest Management Plan is due to commence a review process in the near future.
For further information on public land forestry practices in the Lake Tyers catchment, refer to VicForests located at Nowa Nowa. The EGSC regulates forestry practices on private land in accordance with the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and the Code of Forest Practices for Timber Production.
Management of roads on public land
The DSE is responsible for the management of roads through state forests and other public land. The maintenance and development of roads managed by the DSE is governed by a number of government plans, strategies and guidelines including Management Plans, Flora and Fauna Management Guidelines, Gippsland Forest Management Prescriptions, Timber Harvesting Management Procedures and the Code of Forest Conduct. Parks Victoria manage all roads within the Lake Tyers Forest Park except for Lake Tyers House road, which is managed by the EGSC.
Works associated with road maintenance and construction in State Forests is required to comply with an Environment Management System (EMS) which supports sustainable State Forest management. Significant environmental impacts such as sediment flows are addressed as part of the EMS.
VicRoads, in consultation with the EPA and the DSE, is the responsible agency for the upgrading of major highways, including the Bruthen-Nowa Nowa Road. Silt fences and sediment traps have been used to minimise potential adverse impacts from sediment and nutrient deposition into the Boggy Creek.
For further information on major road upgrades, road construction and or maintenance, please contact the relevant authority.
Foreshore and urban development
Proposals for residential or tourism developments on private and public land around Lake Tyers are subject to local and or State government planning approvals under the provisions of the Planning and Environment Act 1987, and to the issue of Consents in accordance with the Coastal Management Act 1995. If the potential environmental impacts of the proposed development are significant, then the proposal will be subjected to an Environment Effects Statement (EES) process under the provisions of the Environment Effects Act 1978.
For any given development proposal, both the planning approvals and the EES process will normally include public consultation phases, through which concerns regarding possible adverse impacts on fish habitat and fish stocks may be raised.
The Draft Lake Tyers Beach Urban Design Framework outlines the strategic direction of proposed residential developments and associated management implications around the township of Lake Tyers Beach. The Framework's objectives include minimising the impacts of residential development on the water quality of Lake Tyers, and protection and enhancement of the natural resource values of the town (Meinhardt Infrastructure & Environment 2005).
A number of strategies have been proposed to meet the objectives of the Draft Urban Design Framework including:
introduction of stormwater management measures in existing and new development areas to control sediment and nutrient deposition into Lake Tyers
modification of existing main drain outfall and foreshore carpark in the township of Lake Tyers Beach
ensuring new developments make provisions for on-site stormwater management
protecting high value remnant vegetation\
incorporating vegetation buffers and corridors in newly developed areas.
The Draft Lake Tyers Beach Urban Design Framework is expected to be finalised soon.
Aquatic pest plant and animal management
The introduction of exotic organisms into Victorian marine waters has been listed as a 'Potentially Threatening Process' under the provisions of the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 administered by the DSE.
Action Statements will be developed describing how these and other potentially threatening processes are to be addressed in Victoria. Other listed potentially threatening processes of relevance to estuaries such as Lake Tyers, can be found at www.dse.vic.gov.au. Marine pest emergency response arrangements, known as the 'Interim Victorian Protocol for Managing Exotic Marine Organism Incursions', currently forms the basis for responding to introductions and incursions of marine pests.
There are no recorded marine pest incursions in Lake Tyers.
Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan
The overall purpose of the LTFRMP is to formalise management arrangements for the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Ministerial guidelines and the principles of ESD.
To this end, the LTFRMP specifies goals, objectives, strategies and actions for management of fishing activities in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve.
The LTFRMP also identifies processes for management of other non-fishing values and uses of the estuary, and opportunities for fisheries stakeholders to participate in these processes to ensure identification and minimisation of potential adverse impacts on fish habitat and fisheries.
The LTFRMP contains a section describing research and monitoring information needed to address the identified management objectives and performance indicators, a section outlining a strategy for promoting compliance with fishing controls in the estuary, and a section describing implementation and review processes.
Duration of the LTFRMP
The LTFRMP will provide the basis for the management of fishing activities in Lake Tyers for a period of 10 years from the published date of this Plan unless established fishery monitoring and assessment programs indicate a need for a review prior to that time.
Review of the LTFRMP
Review of the LTFRMP and preparation of a new LTFRMP will commence 12 months prior to the scheduled expiry of the LTFRMP. The review will examine all aspects of fisheries management against the defined objectives, performance indicators and reference points, and will examine the need for new or amended objectives in light of monitoring and research information obtained. Should there be a need for the Minister to amend the LTFRMP prior to this review, notice of this intention will be published in the Government Gazette.
The planning process
Requirements of the Fisheries Act 1995
The Fisheries Act 1995 stipulates that a management plan must be prepared for a fisheries reserve as soon as possible after the reserve has been declared under section 88 of the Act.
Each declared fisheries management plan must:
- define the fishery or fisheries to which it relates
- be consistent with the objectives of the Act and, in the case of a fisheries reserve, be consistent with the Order in Council declaring the reserve
- specify objectives for management of the fishery or fisheries covered by the plan
- specify the management tools and any other measures to be used to achieve the objectives of the plan
- specify performance indicators, targets and monitoring methods for the objectives and management actions stated in the management plan
- as far as is known, identify critical components of the ecosystem relevant to the management plan, any current or potential threats to those components, and existing or proposed measures to protect or maintain these ecosystem services
- as far as relevant and practicable, identify any other biological, ecological, social and economic factors relevant to the fishery or fisheries covered by the plan – including: fishery trends and current status; the socio-economic benefits of fishing and other human uses of the area or resources in question; measures to minimise the impact of fishing on non-target species and the environment; fisheries-related research needs and priorities; and an assessment of the resources required to implement the management plan.
The Act also indicates that each management plan may:
- specify the duration of the management plan
- specify procedures and or conditions for review of the plan
- in the case of a fisheries reserve, specify guidelines regulating or restricting activities in the reserve
- in the case of a fisheries reserve, specify terms and conditions under which any special activities in the reserve may be permitted
- include any other relevant matters.
Additional direction on the development of the LTFRMP has been provided by the gazettal of Ministerial guidelines on 14 September 2005 (see Appendix 3).
Requirements of the Native Title Act 1993
Native Title describes the interests and rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in land and waters according to their traditional laws and customs that are recognised under Australian Law (NNTT 2000). The LTFRMP is required by law to adhere to the requirements of the Native Title Act 1993 as a part of the planning process which allows Native Title parties an opportunity to comment on the LTFRMP through a 28-day notification process.
Advice on particular situations relating to East Gippsland (particularly Lake Tyers) is available through the Native Title Coordinator at the Traralgon Office of the DSE.
The LTFRMP was prepared by Fisheries Victoria, assisted by a Steering Committee consisting of an independent chair and representatives from VRFish, the FCC, the EGSC, Parks Victoria, the EGCMA and the Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust.
The role of the Steering Committee was to advise the Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria, DPI, on the preparation of the LTFRMP consistent with the requirements of the Act and the Ministerial guidelines, and to assess public submissions from community consultation on the draft LTFRMP.
The Steering Committee met five times to discuss the results of the public consultation processes, and to provide advice and guidance throughout the preparation of the LTFRMP.
The list of members and Terms of Reference for the Steering Committee are provided in Appendix 4.
The first step in the preparation of the LTFRMP was to seek the views and comments of recreational fishers and other community interests regarding the values and issues associated with fishing in Lake Tyers.
A public meeting was held at Lake Tyers Beach in January 2006 to explore these values and issues. Members of the public and recreational fishers who were unable to attend this meeting were invited to submit their views and comments in writing by the end of January 2006.
A total of 21 verbal and written submissions were received as a result of the initial consultation process.
The information collected has guided the preparation of the LTFRMP to ensure it had a strong focus on addressing fishing-related issues that matter to both visiting and resident recreational fishers and the local community.
Values and issues raised during the first round of public consultation included:
- Lake Tyers has long been a popular location for family recreational fishing activities
- Lake Tyers is a place of spiritual significance for Traditional Owners
- Lake Tyers provides a good variety of fishing target species
- Lake Tyers provides a relatively safe environment for both boat- and shore-based fishing
- Lake Tyers is highly regarded as a dusky flathead and black bream fishery. Other identified target species included silver trevally, tailor, snapper, luderick, garfish and leatherjacket
- Lake Tyers is considered one of the better bream fishing locations in the region
The community also raised:
- concerns about the adequacy of locally available information on how and where to fish in Lake Tyers
- concerns about the possible impacts of a variety of habitat and environmental issues on fish production and fishing in Lake Tyers. Issues raised included bank erosion, sediment deposition from road and forestry operations, artificial opening of the entrance, impacts of stormwater runoff on water quality, stock access to the waters of the estuary around the 'Limekiln' area, foreshore vegetation removal, the impacts of litter, prolonged closure of the estuary due to low rainfall, and dredging to deepen channels
- issues regarding competition and conflict between recreational fishers and other waterbased users of Lake Tyers
- considerations for the introduction of a seasonal closure of recreational fishing for black bream (upstream of Burnt Bridge) and dusky flathead to protect spawning stocks. However, other submissions opposed any closures to recreational fishing
- proposals to collect information on the biology and movement of black bream and dusky flathead to inform fishery management decisions
- concerns about the quality of access to Lake Tyers for both boat-based (particularly Mill Point) and shore-based fishing
- proposals to vary size, possession and or catch limits for target species including black bream, dusky flathead and luderick.
A second round of public consultation calling for comment and views on the Draft LTFRMP was held in late 2006 for a period of sixty days.
Amendments to the LTFRMP were made as a result of the seven submissions received.
Management goals and objectives
The following broad goal and objectives apply to management of fishing activities in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve.
To manage Lake Tyers fish stocks and the fisheries they support, and to identify and promote protection of important fish habitats in a manner that is sustainable and which provides optimum social and economic benefits to all Victorians in accordance with ESD principles.
- Social – To maintain and, where possible, enhance recreational fishing opportunities in Lake Tyers.
- Biological – To conserve and ensure sustainable use of key fish stocks in the estuary.
- Environmental - To identify and promote protection of the habitats and environments that are essential for production or maintenance of key fish stocks in the estuary.
- Governance – To achieve maximum community participation, understanding and support for the management of fishing activities in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve.
More detailed accounts of the strategies, management actions, performance indicators and information needed to address each of these objectives are provided in the following sections and are summarised in Table 2.
Some of the issues raised during the development of the LTFRMP cannot be directly dealt with in accordance with fisheries legislation. For these issues, the LTFRMP attempts to identify other processes whereby recreational fishing interests can ensure their concerns are addressed.
Performance indicators are provided for actions that Fisheries Victoria has direct responsibility for implementing. These indicators provide a means of tracking progress on an ongoing basis.
Performance indicators are not provided for actions that other agencies are responsible for implementing.
Recreational fishing opportunities
Strategy 1 – Monitor fishing values or preferences in Lake Tyers
Preliminary information obtained from verbal and written submissions during the first phase of public consultation in January 2006 indicated that Lake Tyers is a preferred fishing location because it:
- provides a diversity of species
- is one of the better bream fishing locations in the Lakes Entrance region
- provides a relatively safe environment for boat and shore-based anglers
- provides good fishing and boating facilities;
- provides reasonable access for impaired or aged anglers
- provides an environment that is far less modified than in many other Victorian estuaries.
A 12-month survey of daytime recreational fishing and other water-based uses in Lake Tyers in 1984/85 found that black bream and river garfish were the two most popular angling target species (Hall & MacDonald 1985). About 54% of anglers surveyed cited black bream as their primary target species, while 28% were mainly fishing for river garfish. Only 9% of anglers at the time indicated that dusky flathead was their preferred target species. Fewer than 5% of anglers surveyed nominated any other species (e.g. snapper, Australian salmon, trevally, luderick and tailor) as a primary target species, while about 27% of anglers were not fishing for any species in particular.
Recent anecdotal evidence, and feedback received during the first round of public consultation in January 2006 for development of the LTFRMP, indicates that targeting of dusky flathead has increased substantially, and that dusky flathead and black bream have become the two most popular recreational species over the last five years. Anecdotal evidence also suggests that the targeting of dusky flathead has increased partly as a result of the increased use of artificial lures, particularly soft plastics.
Further information on recreational fishing values or preferences in the mid 1980s (Hall & MacDonald 1985) included:
- prawns, sandworm and shrimp were the most popular baits used by bait fishing anglers. Less than 5% of survey respondents reported using artificial lures
- approximately 96% of all daytime Lake Tyers recreational anglers were visitors to the area and accounted for 69% of total angler effort
- there are substantial seasonal fluctuations in recreational fishing effort in Lake Tyers, with peaks coinciding with holiday periods (school or public holidays)
- shore-based and boat-based fishers contributed equally to the estimated total fishing effort across the estuary as a whole, but shore-based fishing was much more popular in the Toorloo Arm and the Main Lake, while boat-based fishing dominated in the Nowa Nowa Arm
- the Toorloo Arm and Main Lake were subjected to much higher fishing effort than the Nowa Nowa Arm, but the Nowa Nowa Arm provided a superior fishing success rate
- garfish and bream dominated recreational catches in both the Toorloo and Nowa Nowa arms.
Ongoing periodic surveys are needed to provide up to date information and to detect changes in the demographic profile of recreational fishers (e.g. proportion of visitors versus local residents) or in the values or preferences individuals attach to fishing in the estuary (e.g. preferred target species, preferred fishing methods, locations and or season, and acceptable catch rates for a particular species). This information is required in order to determine what fishers value or prefer in their recreational fishing experience and, therefore, what fisheries management actions may help to maintain or enhance recreational fishing opportunities.
Surveys of representative samples of Lake Tyers recreational fishers are needed to provide information on fishing values or preferences associated with fishing in the estuary. These surveys need to be undertaken periodically to initially benchmark and then detect any changes in fishing values or preferences.
The most cost effective collection of such information is likely to be through periodic attitudinal surveys at fishing access points around the estuary (for visiting and local non-club fishers) and through direct survey of local fishing club members.
- Information on profile of recreational fishing collected from at least 200 anglers per survey.
- Fisheries Victoria to establish periodic surveys of anglers to provide information on fishing values or preferences. The first survey to be conducted within the first two years following declaration of the LTFRMP, and a minimum of one additional survey in the remaining life of the LTFRMP.
- Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with recreational fishing stakeholders, to evaluate possible fishery management actions to maintain or enhance recreational fishing opportunities based on the results of the survey.
Strategy 2 – Maintain or enhance levels of satisfaction with fishing opportunities
Once factors contributing to a satisfying recreational fishing experience in Lake Tyers are identified, there is a need to periodically monitor levels of satisfaction with fishing opportunities and experiences in the estuary.
This will involve surveys of recreational fishers to provide information on the amounts and types of fish caught, satisfaction with the fishing rules and regulations that apply to Lake Tyers, and any nonfishing factors that may be affecting the quality of recreational fishing experiences.
Issues identified from the first phase of public consultation in January 2006 include:
- dusky flathead and black bream are now probably the two highest profile target fish species in Lake Tyers, with other popular species including silver trevally, snapper, luderick, leatherjacket, tailor and river garfish
- some individuals believe that the increased popularity of artificial lures - particularly soft plastics - has increased angling pressure on dusky flathead
- there is widespread support among recreational fishers for the stricter dusky flathead catch limits introduced in 2003. However, some anglers believe that further protection of dusky flathead and bream from recreational fishing pressure is needed
- some boat launching points are thought to be inadequately maintained and thus detract from overall fishing experiences in Lake Tyers
- a number of submissions indicated that the fishing experiences of visitors is likely to be enhanced if they had ready access to information (through local tourism businesses and local media) on where and how to successfully fish the estuary
- poor access to congested boat ramps during peak times may lead to diminished fishing experiences.
Surveys of representative samples of Lake Tyers recreational fishers are needed to provide information on levels of satisfaction associated with fishing in Lake Tyers. These surveys need to be conducted periodically to initially benchmark and then detect changes in levels of satisfaction with fishing opportunities or experiences.
The most cost effective collection of such information is likely to be through periodic attitudinal surveys at fishing access points around Lake Tyers (for visiting and local non-club fishers) and through direct survey of local fishing club members.
- A minimum of 60% of fishers satisfied with fishing opportunities.
- Fisheries Victoria to establish periodic surveys of anglers to provide information on levels of fishing satisfaction. Surveys may be linked to and undertaken in conjunction with the surveys identified in Strategies 1, 4 and 5. The first of these surveys to be conducted within the first two years following the declaration of the LTFRMP and a minimum of one in the remaining life of the LTFRMP.
- Where information collected during periodic angler surveys indicates support for a review of recreational fishery management arrangements in order to maintain or enhance fishing opportunities and experiences, Fisheries Victoria will evaluate possible fishery management actions in consultation with stakeholders.
Strategy 3 – Identify and encourage responsible recreational fishing behaviour
Many regulations applying to recreational fishing in Victorian waters have been introduced at the request of recreational fishers for ethical or cultural reasons, including concerns about possible future stock conservation issues, rather than because of a scientifically identified need to protect fish stocks from excessive fishing pressure. A number of daily bag and possession limits have been introduced or amended to define a 'reasonable' daily take for personal use, and some size limits have been introduced to define minimum acceptable sizes of fish for human consumption. Regulations introduced or amended for these reasons have, in nearly all cases, been applied uniformly to all Victorian waters.
Preliminary information obtained from verbal and written submissions during the first phase of public consultation on the development of the LTFRMP indicated that many recreational fishers were generally satisfied with existing controls on recreational fishing in Lake Tyers. However, a number of submissions called for changes to catch limits and or size limits for particular species, including dusky flathead, black bream and luderick, for ethical or cultural reasons. Such reasons include concern about possible future stock conservation issues, defining a 'reasonable' number of fish to take for personal use, or defining the minimum size of a particular type of fish that is acceptable for eating purposes.
Victorian recreational fishing catch limits were revised in 2000 after a four year review process that included extensive consultation with the Victorian Recreational Fishing peak body (VRFish) and several rounds of public comment on proposed catch limits. Current bag and possession limits for bream (except in the Gippsland Lakes), estuary perch, Australian salmon, flathead (other than dusky flathead), King George whiting and sand worms were established on the basis of what the majority of Victorian recreational fishers considered to be reasonable, desirable or acceptable.
More recently, recreational fishers have made further requests for Statewide reviews of size or catch limits for particular species. These requests will be considered in consultation with VRFish and the recreational fishing community during a review process which was initiated in 2006. In light of this information, the LTFRMP will not initially contain any changes to recreational catch or size limits that are proposed for ethical or cultural reasons.
Recreational fishers have contributed to the identification of responsible fishing behaviour through the development of a Victorian Recreational Fishing Code of Conduct. This document was released by VRFish in 2004 and provides guidance to recreational fishers on issues such as protecting the environment, respecting the rights of others, attending fishing gear, being aware of and complying with fishing restrictions, returning unwanted fish to the water, valuing fish caught and passing on fishing and local knowledge to new fishers.
The National Strategy for the Survival of Released Line Caught Fish is an initiative of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) in association with Recfish Australia and the Australian National Sportsfishing Association (ANSA). The main aim of this program is to improve the survival rate of fish which have been caught by hook and line and released, by understanding the factors that contribute to release mortality and by identifying and promoting adoption of 'best practices' in handling released fish. Further information on the National Strategy for the Survival of Released Live Caught Fish can be obtained from www.info-fish.net/releasefish.
If new fishing regulations are introduced to define and encourage responsible recreational fishing behaviour, they will reflect the views/values of a majority of recreational fishers.
VRFish to facilitate the distribution of the Victorian Recreational Fishing Code of Conduct through appropriate metropolitan and regional outlets, including (where available) through Fishcare groups, agents who sell recreational fishing licences, fishing-dependent tourism businesses and fishing clubs.
Where information collected during periodic angler surveys (Strategies 1 & 2) or other public consultation processes indicates support for a review of recreational fishing controls, Fisheries Victoria will consider this information in future reviews of fishery management arrangements in consultation with stakeholders. Any changes made to recreational fishing controls for cultural or ethical reasons may apply specifically to Lake Tyers, but are more likely to apply Statewide. Review of fishing controls to occur within twelve months following the collection of information indicating a need for a review.
Information obtained from Lake Tyers regarding dusky flathead catch and size limits to be considered in the recreational catch and size limit review process initiated in 2006.
Sustainable use of fish resources
The Lake Tyers recreational fishery is relatively small by comparison with other recreational and commercial fisheries under Victorian jurisdiction. The fishery is also complex, being characterised by targeting of a variety of fish species using several different fishing methods, and by substantial fluctuations in fish abundance that can be driven as much by habitat and environment conditions as by the effects of fishing.
Objectives, strategies and performance indicators for sustainable use of Lake Tyers fish resources will therefore need to be achievable and cost effective given limited resources for fishery monitoring, assessment and management.
Strategy 4 – Assess the status of dusky flathead and black bream stocks and ensure sustainable fishing
In small estuarine fisheries such as Lake Tyers where the resources available for fishery monitoring, assessment and management are limited, more detailed investigations of stock status and the effects of fishing can only be justified for the one or two most important target species.
For each key species, collection of information on reproduction, growth, population structure and recruitment patterns, together with fishery catch and effort information, is essential to detect fluctuations in abundance (whether driven by environmental or fishing factors) and to decide whether or not adjustments to fishery management arrangements are needed to ensure continued sustainable use.
Available data, recent anecdotal reports and comments from the first round of public consultation indicate that dusky flathead and black bream are now the two most important recreational target species in Lake Tyers. Resources available for stock assessment and fishery management strategy evaluation in Lake Tyers will therefore initially be focussed on dusky flathead and black bream.
Black bream normally spend their entire life cycles in estuaries like Lake Tyers, and consequently, their abundance is likely to be substantially influenced by environmental and or habitat factors in the estuary that determine fluctuations in spawning success, survival of young fish, and the abundance of successive year classes of fish.
Black bream populations in Lake Tyers and other Victorian estuaries are characterised by 'episodic' recruitment – that is, populations that consist of a few 'strong' year classes resulting from years when there is successful spawning and high survival rates, interspersed with a larger number of 'average' to 'weak' year classes resulting from years of lower spawning success and or lower survival rates (MacDonald 1997; Coutin et al. 1997; Coutin 2000; Cashmore et al. 2000). When fish in strong year classes grow large enough to reach the legal minimum size (that is, to be 'recruited' to the fishery), fishery trends are characterised by an increase in catch rates and a decrease in the average size of bream above the legal minimum size.
Strong year classes, once recruited, will sustain bream fisheries for a number of years thereafter. However, if a strong year class is followed by a number of consecutive years of average to weak year classes, then fishery trends will be characterised by a gradual decline in catch rates, but also possibly by an increase in the average size of bream above the legal minimum length.
Regardless of the reasons for observed fluctuations in year class abundance of bream, if patterns of 'strong' and 'weak' year classes of pre-recruits (fish that are not yet big enough to enter the fishery) can be monitored, then fishery trends can be predicted several years in advance. This will allow the development of 'adaptive' fishery management arrangements, whereby fishing restrictions are tightened to provide additional protection from fishing pressure when stocks are low due to persistent poor recruitment, and are relaxed to allow fishers to take advantage of abundant stocks when one or stronger year classes are recruited to the fishery.
Recreational fishing surveys
The only systematic survey of recreational fishing catch and effort in Lake Tyers is from a roving creel survey of the estuary from July 1984 to June 1985 (Hall & MacDonald 1985). The retained bream catch rate from this survey was comparable with bream catch rates from daytime recreational fishing surveys in other Gippsland estuaries in the 1980s, but there are no comparable recent data from Lake Tyers.
The size distribution of bream measured during the 1984/85 Lake Tyers recreational fishing survey indicates a single size mode at 24 cm fork length (about 28 cm total length). Larger, older fish (greater than 30 cm total length) constituted about one third of the retained bream catch (the minimum size limit at the time was 24 cm total length), indicating a healthy population of older/larger black bream in Lake Tyers. This type of size distribution is consistent with a fish population that is not subject to excessive fishing pressure.
Since the late 1990s, the size and age composition and relative year class abundance of Lake Tyers black bream stocks have been monitored by a small number of anglers who have volunteered to keep detailed log book or diary records of their bream fishing activities and catches, and who provide biological samples to PIRVic scientists for analysis. Log book data from this program, together with visual observations of the angler diarists, indicate that relatively strong year classes of pre-recruit (undersize) bream have been observed on several occasions in Lake Tyers since the log book program commenced.
Formal fishery assessments
Formal assessments of fisheries in Lake Tyers have been conducted in 1984, 1994 and 2001 (Hall 1984; MacDonald 1997; DPI 2001a).
Hall (1984) described the history of the Lake Tyers commercial fishery and summarised available commercial catch/effort data up to 1983. On the available data, Hall (1984) found no evidence to suggest that existing levels of fishing pressure were unsustainable. Annual catches of bream were variable and reflected both fluctuations in fishing effort and fluctuations in abundance.
MacDonald (1997) assessed the status of Lake Tyers fish stocks in 1994 based on commercial fishery catch/effort data from 1964 to 1993, recreational fishing catch/effort data from 1984/85, and determination of the size and age composition of bream and luderick from commercial catches during the first week of the 1994 commercial fishing season.
The 1994 assessment found that for all species other than bream and luderick, the combined commercial and recreational catches in Lake Tyers were probably too small to have an impact on fish populations which would be distinguishable from the influence of fluctuating environmental factors. Commercial bream and luderick catches indicated substantial quantities of adults of both species were in the estuary. Significant quantities of prerecruit (undersize) bream in the estuary were also found.
Uncertainty regarding the status of black bream arises from an inability to sample small juvenile fish when relying on catches from commercial fishing equipment.
The most recent assessment of Lake Tyers fisheries was undertaken by stakeholder and Departmental representatives at a workshop in 2001 (DPI 2001a). This assessment updated commercial fishery trends since 1993, and also analysed available size/age composition data for black bream.
The commercial fishery data indicated a decline in both fishing effort and bream catches in the late 1990s. Bream catch rates were also down compared with the mid 1990s, but similar to the long-term average. Commercial effort, catches and catch rates improved markedly again in 2001 and 2002.
Monitoring of commercial catches (particularly haul seine catches) from 1994 to 2001 indicated a substantial proportion of larger older bream in the Lake Tyers population, and the presence of several reasonably strong year-classes of pre-recruits. Given the available evidence and the closure of commercial fishing in 2003, the LTFRMP will not initially contain any changes to existing fishery management arrangements for black bream. Some anglers have raised concerns that the bream stocks in Lake Tyers are depleted and have proposed that bream be given extra protection by closing waters upstream of Burnt Bridge on the Toorloo Arm to recreational bream fishing during the bream spawning season.
While these genuine concerns for the well being of valuable fisheries resources are acknowledged and respected, introduction of a bream fishing closed season in Lake Tyers is not currently being considered for the following reasons:
- available scientific evidence collected in recent years does not suggest any significant decline in bream abundance, nor any persistent poor recruitment
- the 1994 and 2001 Lake Tyers fisheries assessments found that levels of commercial and recreational fishing pressure existing at the time posed no immediate threat to the sustainability of fish stocks
- fishing pressure in Lake Tyers has been reduced by the removal of commercial fishing in 2003
- even if additional protection of black bream stocks from fishing pressure was needed, it is not clear that closing only part of the estuary to bream fishing for part of the year would be the most appropriate fishery management tool for providing such protection. Other management measures including changes to catch and or size limits would also need to be evaluated against the principles of ESD.
Little is known about the biology, population structure or recreational fishery trends for dusky flathead in Lake Tyers.
Elsewhere in eastern Australian waters, dusky flathead are found primarily in estuaries, although they do also occur in near-shore marine waters, and some adult fish are known to migrate substantial distances up or down the coastline (Gray et al. 2002, 2004). Therefore, the abundance and population structure of dusky flathead in estuaries like Lake Tyers is likely to be substantially influenced by environmental and or habitat factors in the estuary that determine fluctuations in spawning success, survival of young fish, and movement of fish in and out of the estuary.
Commercial fishery records indicate that dusky flathead was a minor and mostly incidental component of Lake Tyers commercial catches (Table 1).
Dusky flathead was only a minor recreational target species in the 1980s. In 1984/85, fewer than 10% of anglers were specifically targeting dusky flathead, and flathead catches were smaller than those for black bream, river garfish and yellow-eye mullet (Hall & MacDonald 1985).
Anecdotal evidence from recreational anglers during the first phase of public consultation for the preparation of the LTFRMP indicates that in early 2006, the dominant size range for dusky flathead caught by anglers had been between 30 cm and 50 cm. Several submissions also expressed concern that the proportion of larger dusky flathead (greater than 50 cm) in Lake Tyers recreational catches has declined in recent years.
Observations from recreational fishers, the DPI Regional Fisheries staff and information from the first round of public consultation for the development of the LTFRMP, suggests that in recent years, there has been a substantial increase in recreational targeting of dusky flathead in Lake Tyers and other Gippsland estuaries – particularly by anglers using more sophisticated fishing equipment including soft plastic lures, and special purpose boats and motors.
In response to these concerns, stricter dusky flathead catch limits have been introduced by a Fisheries Notice as a precautionary measure until the impacts of recreational fishing on dusky flathead stocks are better understood. There is a clear need to better understand the population structure and recruitment patterns of dusky flathead in Lake Tyers, and to evaluate the effectiveness of current fishery management arrangements in achieving sustainable use of this species.
- Establishment of cost effective scientific programs in Lake Tyers to monitor recreational fishery trends and determine patterns of recruitment of black bream and dusky flathead to the fisheries.
- Development and implementation of agreed recruitment-related reference points that trigger review and adjustment of 'adaptive' fishery management arrangements to ensure continued sustainability.
In order to monitor recruitment patterns, there is a need to establish ongoing and or periodic sampling programs for dusky flathead and black bream populations in Lake Tyers. Information obtained from these sampling programs will provide a time series of data on catch rate and size/age composition and, thus, on the relative abundance of successive year classes. Information is required for pre-recruit fish (smaller than the legal size) as well as recruited fish to provide a capacity to predict changes in fishery conditions and to plan appropriate management responses.
Possible suitable methods to collect the data required include periodic creel surveys, ongoing research angler and or general angler diary programs, and fishery-independent scientific surveys of black bream and dusky flathead in Lake Tyers.
- Fisheries Victoria to obtain recreational fishery catch and effort data, and size and age composition data for black bream and dusky flathead from periodic creel surveys of Lake Tyers. The first of these surveys, subject to funding, is to be conducted within the first two years following the declaration of the LTFRMP and a minimum of one additional survey in the remaining life of the LTFRMP.
- Fisheries Victoria to maintain or expand the black bream and dusky flathead general angler diary program in Lake Tyers.
- Fisheries Victoria to maintain or expand the black bream research angler diary program in Lake Tyers, and to investigate the feasibility of recruiting research anglers to provide information on the abundance of both prerecruit and adult dusky flathead in Lake Tyers.
- Where information collected during creel surveys or angler diary programs indicates a need to review recreational fishery management arrangements in order to ensure the impacts of fishing are sustainable, Fisheries Victoria will evaluate possible fishery management actions in consultation with stakeholders.
Strategy 5 – Monitor catch composition and trends for other fishery species
More than 25 species of scale fish, molluscs and crustaceans have been recorded from recreational and commercial catches in Lake Tyers (Hall 1984; Hall & MacDonald 1985; MacDonald 1997). While most of these species were caught rarely or occasionally as by-catch during fishing activities aimed at other species, a few were or are secondary target species. While dusky flathead and black bream are now the primary recreational fishing target species, smaller numbers of fishers also target trevally, six-spined leatherjackets, snapper, tailor, luderick and Australian salmon in the estuary. Small quantities of shrimp and small live mullet are also caught in the estuary – either by commercial bait licence holders or by recreational fishers themselves.
- Establishment of a cost effective recreational fishing data collection program in Lake Tyers to determine species composition of catches and allow ongoing assessment of fishery trends.
- Maintenance of commercial bait catch and effort data collection.
Periodic creel surveys of recreational fishers are required to obtain information to assist in the continual review of target species.
Catches of minor recreational target species and collection/use of bait by anglers will be monitored as part of the periodic angler survey program identified in Strategies 1, 2 & 4.
Catches of bait species by commercial bait licence holders will be monitored through the DPI's ongoing commercial fishery catch/effort monitoring program.
If information collected from these three sources indicates a significant change in catches of any minor species, or a shift in preferred target species, then a closer investigation of the change in trend and or review of fisheries management arrangements may be warranted.
- Fisheries Victoria, through recreational creel surveys and or general angler diary programs (Strategies 1, 2 & 4), to provide information on catch composition and catch and effort trends. The first creel survey to be conducted within the first two years following the declaration of the LTFRMP and a minimum of one survey in the remaining life of the LTFRMP.
- Fisheries Victoria to continue monitoring of commercial bait catches in Lake Tyers via the existing commercial fishery catch/effort monitoring program.
- If information from these monitoring programs indicates changing fishery trends, Fisheries Victoria, in conjunction with stakeholders, to assess the need for further investigation and or to review the adequacy of existing fishery management arrangements.
Maintenance of fish habitat
There is increasing evidence worldwide that the sustainable use of any fishery resource is dependent not only on controlling the impacts of fishing on fish stocks, but also on maintaining the integrity of the aquatic habitats and the ecological processes they support that are crucial for the production and or survival of target fish species.
Inshore marine, estuarine and inland waters are facing increasing pressures from human population growth and associated agricultural, industrial, urban and tourism development.
Effective management of fisheries includes identification and advocacy of management actions needed to protect and, where possible, enhance ecosystems that support production of fishery resources. To do this it is necessary to know:
the type, location and extent of habitat and environmental conditions that are important for production and or survival of key target fish species within an estuary
the links between particular habitat and environmental conditions, and production and survival of stocks of key target species
the current status and historical trends in the condition of these key fish habitats
the main threats (whether from fishing or nonfishing human activities) to the integrity of each key fish habitat.
Direct management action can be taken under fisheries legislation to minimise or eliminate any identified threat to fish habitat from fishing activities. For management agencies to take actions to ameliorate impacts or threats to fish habitats from non-fishing activities (for example excessive nutrient and sediment inputs, foreshore development) will require specific knowledge of the catchment activities, links to habitat change and the extent of the impacts on fish habitats and production of fisheries resources, and thus the reduction in associated fishery values.
Fisheries interests are provided for during the development and review of catchment and waterway management strategies.
Fish habitat assessments
In 1995, Fisheries Victoria established a formal Fish Habitat Assessment process to provide scientific information on the location and status of key marine and estuarine fish habitats as an input to the development or review of fishery management arrangements. This process involves the participation of stakeholder representatives, scientists and fishery managers in fish habitat assessment workshops, and the publication of workshop findings in the Fisheries Victoria Assessment Series.
A Lake Tyers Fish Habitat Assessment workshop was held in March 2001 (DPI 2001b). The workshop identified habitat types in the estuary which may be important to known key recreational target species including pelagic (water), seagrass, solid (rock or gravel) bottom, snags, seaweed (algae) beds, unvegetated soft sediments and fringing vegetation (i.e. reeds). Identified potential threats to fish habitat included: increasing erosion and sediment deposition from catchment activities (including forestry); decreased water flow and flushing from a combination of low rainfall, water extraction and long closures of Lake Tyers to Bass Strait; and deteriorating water quality (including low dissolved oxygen levels in deeper waters) due to increased nutrient, sediment and contaminant loads from catchment sources and from urban and tourism development in and around the estuary.
A general lack of knowledge of critical fish habitats and potential threats to these habitats, and hydrocarbon contamination from boats and boat propeller damage to seagrasses were also of concern to workshop participants.
In a Lake Tyers Fish Habitat in January 2006, workshop participants agreed that, from a fisheries perspective, it was important to identify critical habitat and environment requirements for the key recreational fishery target species (in particular, dusky flathead) and focus on trying to maintain the integrity of these key habitats in order to maximise fisheries benefits.
Strategy 6 – Identify important habitat requirements for key fishery species
There is limited information about the specific habitat associations or dependencies of key species in Lake Tyers. Therefore, the identity and status of key fish habitats and management actions needed to protect these habitats, remain unclear.
Information on the habitats in the estuary being used by, or are indirectly supporting, various life history stages of the key target fish species is required.
The two main recreational target species in Lake Tyers are dusky flathead and black bream. Both of these species are essentially estuarine residents and as a consequence, their abundance is likely to be strongly influenced by habitat and environmental conditions within the estuary.
Work undertaken to determine the habitat and environmental requirements of black bream in the Gippsland Lakes, may be applicable to other estuaries like Lake Tyers. However, sparse information exists regarding the habitat and environmental conditions required to sustain dusky flathead populations.
Work to identify which habitats in Mallacoota Inlet (i.e. seagrass/algal beds, unvegetated bottoms, hard bottom areas) in which dusky flathead are found is proposed in the Mallacoota Inlet Fisheries Reserve Management Plan (DPI 2006b). Information obtained from this investigation is likely to be applicable to dusky flathead in Lake Tyers.
There is also a need for information on the indirect ecological habitat dependencies of both adult and juvenile dusky flathead including which habitats support production of the food on which dusky flathead rely. It is proposed that this type of work be done in Lake Tyers to complement the work on physical habitat associations done in Mallacoota Inlet.
- The collection of information on dusky flathead diet, and the sources of diet items in Lake Tyers to allow identification of indirect ecological habitat dependencies for dusky flathead.
Literature review on known and or suggested fish/habitat associations of dusky flathead. Information on capture locations and diet of adult dusky flathead from recreational fishery monitoring and catch sampling programs.
Identification of habitats and environmental conditions that support production of dusky flathead diet items.
Seasonal survey of diets of adult and juvenile dusky flathead in Lake Tyers to identify critical ecological habitat dependencies.
- Fisheries Victoria to review literature regarding habitat and environmental conditions required to sustain the production (spawning, recruitment, survival, growth and movement) of dusky flathead and black bream.
- Fisheries Victoria to seek partnership funding to investigate the diet and, therefore, the ecological habitat dependencies of dusky flathead. Subject to funding, the one-off study to commence within two years of the declaration of the LTFRMP.
Strategy 7 – Work with other agencies to promote protection of important fish habitats
The habitat requirements of key fisheries target species such as dusky flathead can be provided to other agencies which have responsibility for management of non-fisheries impacts to encourage greater protection for essential fish habitat, maintaining or enhancing fisheries outcomes.
Effects of catchment activities
Known or potential effects of catchment activities on fish habitat and fish stocks in Lake Tyers are described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with catchment and waterway management responsibilities and relevant strategic documents.
- Information on fishery values and habitat requirements of key target species in Lake Tyers are provided to the EGCMA and other agencies.
- Fisheries Victoria to provide available information and advice on fisheries values and important fish habitats during the development and review of the East Gippsland Regional Catchment Strategy, the Regional River Health Strategy, the Regional Forest Plan and any future planning for the Lake Tyers Forest Park.
- VRFish, on behalf of recreational fishers and with assistance from Fisheries Victoria, to develop partnership arrangements with the EGCMA, Parks Victoria and VicForests to ensure that potential adverse impacts of catchment, land and waterway use activities on fish habitat and fisheries in Lake Tyers are adequately considered in the development of programs in support of these two strategies.
- Where appropriate, Fisheries Victoria to provide policy and technical advice to the EGCMA and other agencies (including VicForests and Parks Victoria) to assist them to identify and develop priority projects and programs to ameliorate or prevent adverse impacts of catchment, land and waterway use activities on fish habitats and fisheries in Lake Tyers.
Effects of boating and other water-based recreational uses
Known or potential impacts of boating and other water-based used on fish habitat in Lake Tyers include bank erosion from boat wakes, propeller or hull damage to intertidal seagrass beds or mudflats from boating in very shallow waters, inappropriate waste and litter disposal, removal of woody debris, and hydrocarbon pollution.
Responsibilities for management of boating in Lake Tyers (Gippsland Ports, Marine Safety Victoria, the EGSC and Victorian Police) and protection of waterways from boating impacts (the EGCMA, the DSE, the EGSC) are described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with relevant strategic documents.
- VRFish, with support from Fisheries Victoria and other water-based recreational user groups, to engage relevant waterway authorities to ensure that adequate boating navigational facilities are provided in Lake Tyers, and that any potential adverse impacts of boating on fish habitat and fisheries in the estuary are identified and minimised.
Artificial entrance openings
Artificial openings of estuary entrances to mitigate threats to infrastructure can affect the availability of suitable habitat and water for key fisheries species in the estuary.
The development of a consultative Estuary Entrances Management Support System process to assist in making balanced decisions on artificial entrance opening for Victorian estuaries is described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with a list of the relevant responsible management authorities. Persons or groups seeking more information on the decision making process should contact the appropriate authorities.
- Fisheries Victoria to seek formal recognition as a referral agency for proposals seeking to artificially open any of Victoria's estuary entrances. Referral agency status to be sought within twelve months of the declaration of the LTFRMP.
- Fisheries Victoria to work with relevant management authorities and VRFish to ensure that fisheries interests are properly considered in any decision regarding any artificial entrance openings.
Effects of foreshore development
Known or potential effects of foreshore development on fish habitat and fish stocks in Lake Tyers, together with the relevant management and strategic documents to address such issues, are described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP.
Individuals wishing to participate in approvals processes for development projects should contact the EGSC (if the proposal is subject to local government approvals), or the DSE (if the proposal is subject to State Government approvals), or follow advertised public consultation procedures.
- VRFish, with assistance from Fisheries Victoria, to work with relevant authorities to ensure that concerns regarding potential adverse impacts of any proposed foreshore urban developments on fish habitat and fisheries in Lake Tyers are identified and properly assessed during any environmental impact assessment processes.
Effects of dredging
The known or potential impacts of dredging on fish habitat in Lake Tyers, together with the decision making framework and relevant management and guideline documents have been described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section in the LTFRMP. Individuals or groups wanting to participate in the approval process (including Coastal Management Act Consent processes) for dredging projects should contact the relevant responsible authority (the DSE, the EPA).
- Fisheries Victoria to seek formal recognition as a referral agency for proposals seeking to dredge areas in Lake Tyers within two years of the declaration of the LTFRMP.
- Fisheries Victoria to work with relevant management authorities and VRFish to ensure that fisheries interests are properly considered in any decision making framework for dredging activities at a local level.
Issues affecting recreational fishing opportunities
Strategy 8 – Work with other agencies to maintain or improve fishing access, facilities and opportunities
Boat-based fishing access and facilities Responsibilities for the maintenance and provision of boat launching facilities and associated jetties (the EGSC, local Committee of Management and Parks Victoria) and navigational aids (Gippsland Ports) in Lake Tyers are described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with the relevant strategic management documents and planning processes. Persons or groups seeking more information on boating facilities program, or who wish to propose improvements to boating or navigational aids within Lake Tyers, should contact the appropriate authority for further advice.
- VRFish, representing recreational interests, to work with relevant authorities and recreational user groups in the development or review of planning documents, to ensure recreational fishing needs are considered.
- Subject to planning approvals, management plans, strategies and policies, VRFish, and other water-craft based recreational user groups, to identify needs and seek funding to maintain or enhance access and facilities for boat-based recreational fishing in Lake Tyers.
Management of multiple water-based and foreshore uses of Lake Tyers
Lake Tyers is a popular location for a variety of water-based activities including fishing, waterskiing, kite-surfing and personal water-craft use, particularly during peak periods. Congestion and conflict over multiple use should be avoided.
Responsibilities for management of foreshores (local government, Parks Victoria or the DSE), and watercraft activities (Gippsland Ports, Marine Safety Victoria, the Victorian Water Police), are described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with relevant strategic documents and detailed proposals for management of competing uses in some areas.
Individuals or groups seeking more information on foreshore or water-based management, or wish to participate in management review processes to ensure that fishing activities are not unnecessarily constrained, should contact the appropriate authority.
- VRFish, on behalf of recreational fishers, to work with relevant foreshore and waterway management authorities to ensure that fisheries interests are properly considered in the development or review of any management arrangements designed to accommodate multiple water-based and shore-based activities in Lake Tyers.
Foreshore fishing access and facilities
Access to the foreshores of Lake Tyers for shorebased fishing is described in the 'Current Management Arrangements' section of the LTFRMP, together with relevant strategic management documents and processes for managing shore-based fishing facilities.
Individuals or groups seeking clarification on public access to specific parts of Lake Tyers for shore-based fishing should contact the relevant foreshore manager (the EGSC, Parks Victoria, the DSE). Individuals or groups who wish to propose improvements to shore-based fishing facilities (e.g. fishing platforms), should contact the relevant management authority for advice with regard to planning process, approvals and or assistance.
- VRFish, on behalf of recreational fishers, to work with relevant foreshore and waterway management authorities to resolve shore-based fishing access issues and to seek funding to maintain or enhance shore-based fishing access facilities where appropriate.
Provision of local fishing information
During the first round of public consultation, concerns were raised about the adequacy of information available on local fishing opportunities. There is a substantial amount of information on recreational fishing opportunities for East Gippsland including Lake Tyers already available in published recreational fishing literature.
Provision of this information could be further enhanced through local tourism bodies and specific commercial outlets.
Research and monitoring
Information provided from research and monitoring programs is an essential component of effective management of all fisheries.
Management of Victoria's larger bays and inlet fisheries is underpinned by targeted research projects and ongoing or periodic monitoring of fishing activities to provide information on fishery trends, the status of key target fish stocks, habitats and environmental conditions important for the maintenance of fisheries resources, evaluation of the effectiveness of new or altered fishery management measures, community values associated with fish resources, and levels of satisfaction with existing fishery management arrangements.
Planning and priorities
There has been some monitoring of both recreational and commercial fishing catches in Lake Tyers, including a long time series of commercial catch records from 1916 to 2003, a survey of recreational fishing between July 1984 and June 1985 and details of fishing activities recorded by research anglers since the late 1990s.
The most important information requirements to facilitate effective fishery management in Lake
- monitor fishery trends in the estuary
- maintain and expand existing programs in conjunction with recreational fishers to enable ongoing monitoring of the status of key recreational species
- identify habitat which is important for key target species in order to focus on priority fish habitat protection and maintenance requirements.
A summary of fishery and fish habitat monitoring and research projects proposed to address these information requirements, together with an estimated cost and possible funding sources is provided in Table 3.
Fisheries and fish stocks
The following information was identified as necessary to address Strategies 1, 2, 4 and 5 of the LTFRMP.
- Periodic surveys of representative samples of Lake Tyers recreational fishers to provide information on values or preferences associated with fishing in Lake Tyers and on levels of satisfaction with fishing opportunities. The most effective collection of such information is likely to be through periodic attitudinal surveys at fishing access points around Lake Tyers (for visiting and local non-club fishers) and through direct survey of local fishing clubs.
- Ongoing or periodic sampling of the size and age structure of the black bream and dusky flathead population in Lake Tyers to provide a time series of information on the relative abundance of successive year classes. Information is needed for pre-recruit fish (smaller than the legal size) as well as recruited fish to provide a capacity to predict changes in fishery conditions and plan appropriate management responses. Options for collection of such information include sampling of dusky flathead and black bream catches during creel surveys, and recruitment of skilled dusky flathead and black bream anglers to provide detailed information on both legal size and undersized fish through general and 'research' angler diary programs.
- Ongoing or periodic surveys of recreational fishing activities in Lake Tyers to provide time series of information on all species and to detect changes in catch and effort trends for key species. The most cost effective collection of such information is likely to be through creel surveys at access points around Lake Tyers (for both visiting and non-club fishers) and or through enhancement of general angler diary programs in cooperation with community members.
Indicative current costs for the conduct of a 12 month access point creel survey in Lake Tyers to obtain recreational fishing catch and effort and attitudinal information is $30,000. Indicative costs for the support of an ongoing general angler diary program and research angler diary programs for black bream and dusky flathead in Lake Tyers is $12,000 per annum.
The following information was identified as being necessary to address Strategy 6 of the LTFRMP:
- Seasonal field sampling over 12 months to determine the diet and ecological habitat dependencies of various life stages of dusky flathead. The collection of such data will provide information on habitats that support important food sources which are critical for the survival and growth of dusky flathead.
Indicative costs for this program is $37,900, with a maximum indicated the DPI contribution of $18,950. This contribution is subject to the establishment of partnerships to seek coinvestment, including through the Regional Catchment Investment Plan (RCIP).
Potential funding sources
To date, most of the funding for Victorian bay and inlet fishery monitoring and research has been provided from the Fisheries Victoria budget, with periodic contributions from the National Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC). More recently, revenue derived from Recreational Fishing Licence fees provides an additional funding option – particularly for programs such as creel surveys and angler diaries where there is strong recreational fisher involvement.
Funding opportunities for fish habitat assessment and protection projects may also be available through the development of partnership arrangements with the EGCMA to seek funds through RCIP.
Availability of funding identified in Table 3 will be subject to Government budget constraints and the success of competitive applications for external funds.
Table 3 Summary of fishery and fish habitat monitoring/research projects required to address the MIFRMP objectives
|Project number||Project||Relevant strategy||
|Key partners||Total estimated cost||Potential funding source||
Maximum contribution by|
|1||Ongoing general angler and research angler diary programs||4,5,6||Fisheries Victoria||Recreational fishers||$6,000 per annum||RFL Trust Account||N/A|
|2||Periodic access point angler survey program||1,2,3,4,5,6||Fisheries Victoria||Recreational fishers||$30,000 per survey||RFL Trust Account||N/A|
and otolith ageing to provide age structure data for dusky flathead and black bream
|4||Fisheries Victoria||Recreational fishers, PIRVic||$6,000 per annum||Fisheries Victoria program budget||$6,000 per annum|
12 month fishery|
independent survey to determine
the diet and ecological
habitat dependencies of various life stages of dusky flathead.
|$37,900 (one off survey)|
Regional Catchment Investment Program
Fisheries Victoria program budget
|$18,950 (one off survey)|
Compliance with fishing controls
Fisheries compliance in Lake Tyers
The waters of Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve contain both inland and marine waters for the purposes of the Act. Unless exempted, anglers are required to hold a RFL to fish these waters. The requirement for an RFL applies to the taking or attempting to take, of any species of fish by any method. This licence also covers other activities such as bait collection, gathering shellfish, yabby fishing, prawning and spear fishing. Details of entitlements under this licence and other important information for anglers can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
There is a high level of community expectation that fishery resources will be maintained at sustainable levels and that the aquatic habitats that support them will be protected. The Act and the associated Regulations provide the legislative framework to assist in the protection of fishery resources. Successful fisheries management in Victoria depends heavily on achieving optimal levels of compliance with this legislation. This is best achieved through a combination of maximising voluntary compliance and creating a deterrent effect.
Education and community awareness programs
There is a growing community awareness that fishing activities can have a direct impact on the condition of fish resources. For some species, specific management arrangements are in place and may include catch and size limits.
High levels of voluntary compliance require effective education and community awareness programs which promote and support close and ongoing cooperation between fishers and Fisheries Victoria, a high level of community awareness and understanding about management objectives and strategies and perhaps most importantly, a sense of shared responsibility for maintaining healthy fisheries for future generations.
The DPI, through its Regional Fisheries staff, is responsible for the delivery of a range of services associated with fisheries compliance. A proportion of these services are funded directly from the RFL Trust Account. These services range from the provision of education and information services to the field operations of fisheries officers involved in the detection of illegal fishing activities.
For Lake Tyers, these compliance services are delivered as part of the DPI's Gippsland Fisheries Program and Fisheries Victoria's Recreational Compliance Strategy. Fisheries staff providing these services are based at Lakes Entrance. Fisheries Victoria recognises the need to maintain high standards of education and awareness programs relating to the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve in keeping with the significance of the area as a fisheries reserve. Fisheries Victoria will continue to provide such services consistent with its Statewide education and awareness program.
Fisheries Victoria's programs are often complimented by the community education activities of Fishcare Victoria. The aim of this program is to foster responsible fishing practices and care for aquatic environments. This program has been active in promoting ethical fishing behaviour with respect to natural resources in the East Gippsland area.
Information about management of fishing activities in Lake Tyers can also be disseminated through the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Reference Group.
The DPI's fisheries community education and awareness programs are complimented and supported by its efforts to ensure effective deterrents to potential offenders through its fisheries enforcement operations targeting substantial and deliberate breaches of the regulations.
Land and water-based patrols by authorised fisheries officers provide important opportunities for communication and engagement with active fishers, as well as discouraging illegal activities by providing a physical presence. There are many compliance options available ranging from warnings through to prosecutions in a court of law. In the area of Lake Tyers, these services are also funded and delivered through the DPI Regional Fisheries Program.
The DPI operates a 24-hour Statewide offence reporting service. Users of the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve and other waters who are concerned about suspected illegal activities are encouraged to report these matters on 13 FISH (13 3474).
Fishcare Volunteer Program:
- Host community awareness activities to promote responsible fishing and care for fish habitats
- Provide opportunities for community involvement in caring for the fishing environment
- Conduct education programs promoting key fisheries management objectives
- Display and distribute Fishcare and Fisheries Victoria educational material as appropriate.
Fisheries compliance staff:
- Provide information and promote community reporting of suspected illegal fishing activities (13 FISH)
- Plan and target patrols and inspections to achieve at least 90% compliance rate with fishing controls
- Undertake targeted enforcement operations based on Statewide priorities and resource risk to achieve fisheries objectives as defined in the LTFRMP.
Management plan implementation
The LTFRMP describes arrangements for the management of recreational fishing in the recently established Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve. Initially, fishery management measures in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve will remain unchanged while the focus is on establishing programs to characterise the recreational fishery, monitor fishery trends and the status of key target species, and identify key fish habitats in the estuary.
If information from these programs indicates a need to alter fishery management arrangements in future to ensure sustainable use or to meet changing demands for recreational fishing opportunities, then changes will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.
Any proposed changes to fisheries regulations may be subject to a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) process under the provisions of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, which requires extensive consultation with stakeholders.
Key implementation actions
The LTFRMP will come into effect following a declaration by the Minister via a notice in the Government Gazette and will be made available to the public through the internet and as a published document.
The Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Reference Group will be established to work with the DPI to deliver the desired management outcomes from the LTFRMP. It is proposed that the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Reference Group include representatives nominated by VRFish, Fisheries Victoria, local government, local Indigenous interests, the EGCMA and Parks Victoria.
The role of the Reference Group is to coordinate activities and projects in support of the LTFRMP actions, strategies and objectives.
Ongoing implementation of the LTFRMP will require action by the DPI in conjunction with recreational fishers, VRFish and other stakeholders to establish the required fishery monitoring and research programs, to carry out day-to-day management activities, and to ensure compliance with fishery management arrangements.
Key actions required to facilitate implementation of this plan are summarised in Table 2. An annual progress report on implementation of the LTFRMP will be prepared providing details of performance against the key performance indicators. Annual reports will be available on the DPI website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/fishing. For further information on the LTFRMP or recreational fishing in general, contact the DPI Customer Service Centre, telephone 136 186 or visit the Department's website at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/fishing.
For further information on the activities of the VRFish, telephone (03) 9854 6167 or visit the VRFish website at www.vrfish.com.au.
Costs of implementation
Costs of establishing the required fishery monitoring and research programs, and potential funding sources, are described in Table 3 in the 'Research and Monitoring' section of the LTFRMP. Costs for regulatory amendment processes and implementation of fisheries compliance activities in the Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve will be met within the DPI Fisheries Program budget allocation.
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Age class – fish of a particular species that were spawned in the same year.
Catchment – the area of land from which run-off from rain enters a waterway.
Closures – the banning of fishing during particular times or seasons, areas or both.
Cohort – a group of fish of a particular species that belong to the same age class.
Co-management – co-management of fisheries in Victoria is a process whereby stakeholders and their representatives, the Fisheries Comanagement Council (FCC) and relevant FCC fishery committees, and government management agencies (including Fisheries Victoria), cooperate and participate in the development and implementation of fishery management arrangements.
Country – with respect to Indigenous usage, all spiritual, natural and cultural connections with the land, water and natural resources of an area. Ecologically sustainable development – using, conserving and enhancing the community's resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased.
Estuary – the coastal section of a waterway where freshwaters from the catchment mix with saltwaters from the sea.
Exotic species – any species that is not native to a particular location.
Habitat – the physical, environmental and ecological conditions required by a species to survive and flourish.
Juveniles – that part of a life cycle of a fish after the larval stage and before the fish becomes sexually mature.
Pre-recruit – fish that have not reached the legal minimum size and are not yet subject to targeted fishing pressure.
Recruitment – fish reaching legal minimum size and becoming vulnerable to targeted fishing pressure.
Salinity – the salt content of water.
Sediment – fragments of soil and rock that are transported into an estuary by water flow and subsequently settle to the bottom.
Target species – the primary fish species intended to be caught using particular fishing equipment or methods.
Traditional owners – communities of people that reasonably assert an association with the area that is based on direct decent from the original Indigenous custodians of Country and is in accordance with Indigenous tradition. Year class strength – the relative numbers of fish in each year class of a particular fish population.
AAV Aboriginal Affairs Victoria
ANSA Australian National Sportsfishing Association Ltd
ATSIC Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission
CAP Coastal Action Plan
DNRE Department of Natural Resources & Environment (former), now DPI and DSE
DPI Department of Primary Industries
DSE Department of Sustainability and Environment
EEMSS Estuary Entrance Management Support System
EGCMA East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority
EGSC East Gippsland Shire Council
EPA Environment Protection Authority
ESD Ecologically Sustainable Development
FCC Fisheries Co-management Council
FRDC Fisheries Research and Development Corporation
GBCAP Gippsland Boating Coastal Action Plan
GCB Gippsland Coastal Board
LCC Land Conservation Council
LTFP Lake Tyers Forest Park
LTFRMP Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan
MSV Marine Safety Victoria
NRIFS National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey
NREC Natural Resources and Environment Committee
RCIP Regional Catchment Investment Plan
RCS Regional Catchment Strategy (East Gippsland)
RFL Recreational Fishing Licence
RHS River Health Strategy (East Gippsland)
sq km square kilometres
the Act Fisheries Act 1995
the Regulations Fisheries Regulations 1998
VCC Victorian Coastal Council
VRFish Victorian Recreational Fishing peak body
Appendix 1: Gazetted Declaration of Lake Tyers as a Fisheries Reserve
Excerpt from General Gazette G4, 22 January 2004, page 163.
Fisheries Act 1995 FISHERIES (DECLARATION OF MALLACOOTA INLET AND LAKE TYERS FISHERIES RESERVES) ORDER 2004
The Governor in Council makes the following Order:
1. The objective of this Order is to independently declare Mallacoota Inlet and Lake Tyers as Fisheries Reserves and to specify their purpose.
2. This Order is made under section 88 of the Fisheries Act 1995 ('the Act').
3. This Order comes into operation on the day on which it is published in the Victorian Government Gazette.
Declaration of Mallacoota Inlet and Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserves
4. The area described in the Schedule is declared to be Mallacoota Inlet and Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserves.
Purposes of the Mallacoota Inlet and Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserves
5. The purpose of the Mallacoota Inlet and Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserves, in accordance with section 88(2)(b) of the Act, is to:
- Provide for enhanced fishing activities for recreational fishers;
- Improve the management of monitoring of these enhanced harvesting opportunities;
- Improve the management and monitoring of any other issues that are likely to impact on these harvesting opportunities;
- Enable the development of a fisheries reserve management plan which will:
- Specify the guidelines regulating or restricting equipment and activities in the Fisheries Reserves;
- Provide for the issue of permits by the Secretary in respect of activities in the Fisheries Reserves; and
- Establish a compliance strategy framework for the Reserves.
The Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve includes the Main Lake, Toorloo Arm below the Princess Highway Bridge and Nowa Nowa Arm below the Princess Highway Bridge.
Appendix 2: Biology and ecological requirements of other target recreational fish species
Yellow-eye mullet are schooling fish that inhabit bays, coastal and estuarine waters (Kailola et al. 1993). There are two known distinct populations found being:
- Western Australian Waters – whereby the species are found to spawn during winter months (Chubb et al. 1981).
- Eastern Australian Waters – whereby the species are believed to spawn during late spring and early summer with a distribution from Eastern Victoria to New South Wales and Tasmania (Rigby 1982; Ramm 1983).
Juvenile yellow-eye mullet may be found residing in a variety of water temperatures and salinities ranging from 20ppt in the Gippsland Lakes to 35ppt (Kailola et al. 1993).
It is believed that spawning only occurs once a year with the number of eggs released increasing as females grow larger (Kailola et al. 1993). The age of adults at first spawning is approximately three years of age (Scott et al. 1980).
Yellow-eye mullet may reach a size of at least 40 cm in total length and about 950g, with Gippsland Lakes fish displaying an average length of 7.5 cm (males) and 15.5 cm (females) (Kailola et al. 1993).
Yellow-eye mullet are considered to be omnivores with algae, detritus, seagrass, microalgae, plankton (as juveniles), epiphytes and small animals including molluscs and polychaete worms being in their main diet (Hall 1984; Kailola et al. 1993).
Australian salmon are migratory, schooling marine fishes found in coastal waters, bays and estuaries of southern Australia and up the east and west coasts to approximately 30oS (Kailola et al. 1993).
Morphological and genetic studies (MacDonald 1980, 1983) have confirmed two species of salmon in southern Australian waters - western salmon (Arripis truttaceus) in waters of Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria and Tasmania, and eastern salmon (A. trutta) in waters of southern New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania. Eastern salmon predominate in East Gippsland waters and are relatively common as far west as Port Phillip Bay.
Eastern salmon spawn in coastal waters of East Gippsland and southern New South Wales over the period November to April.
In Victoria both western and eastern salmon up to 2+ years are found predominantly in bays and estuaries, often in association with seagrass beds. They can tolerate temperature and salinity extremes, such as the brackish and turbid waters of estuaries, or the hyper-saline waters of the South Australian gulfs.
Eastern juveniles feed on zooplankton but are known to also prey on bottom-dwelling fauna such as fishes, squid, crustaceans and polychaete worms during winter months (Robertson 1982).
Larger juvenile salmon (>30 cm length) move out of bays and estuaries into more exposed coastal waters, such as around rocky headlands and along surf beaches. Maturing salmon school up and move east or west along the southern coast to the respective spawning grounds of each species. Migrating schools of adult salmon will sometimes 'rest up' near the mouths of estuaries such as Lake Tyers, and may occasionally move into such estuaries temporarily to feed.
Appendix 3: Ministerial guidelines for Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve
Excerpt from Government Gazette G41, 13 October 2005, pages 2279-2280
Fisheries Act 1995 SECTION 30 Lake Tyers Fisheries Reserve Management Plan Ministerial Guidelines
- Fisheries Victoria of the Department of Primary Industries will be responsible for the preparation of the Fisheries Reserve Management Plan. The plan must be consistent with the objectives of the Act.
- The Fisheries Co-management Council will oversee the process for the preparation of the Fisheries Reserve Management Plan. The plan must comply with Part 3 of the Act.
- The Fisheries Reserve Management Plan will be prepared with input from all major affected stakeholder groups, including recreational fishing interests, conservation interests, indigenous interests and commercial bait and eel fishing interests.
- The Fisheries Reserve Management Plan will identify key actions to protect habitats and enhance recreational fishing opportunities, including actions designed to improve the management and monitoring of recreational fishing and the impact of other issues (eg habitat change) on recreational fishing opportunities.
- The Fisheries Reserve Management Plan shall specify appropriate management controls with regard to recreational fishing and may recommend options to assist in managing related activities.
- The Fisheries Reserve Management Plan will include processes for reporting to the Victorian community on achievements of the plan.
Dated 14 September 2005
Responsible Minister: BOB CAMERON Minister for Agriculture
Appendix 4: Management Plan Steering Committee
Terms of Reference
- To provide advice on issues associated with the preparation of the LTFR Management Plan
- Fisheries Victoria will prepare the draft plan
- Consider public submissions relating the draft LTFR Management Plan received during the initial public meeting (1st Round) and the comments received during the Notice of Intention to Declare period
- Fisheries Victoria will collate submissions and prepare a draft analysis to the Steering Committee
- Provide advice to Fisheries Victoria with regards to the preparation of the final LTFR Management Plan.
Membership of the Steering Committee
|Mr Duncan Malcolm (Chair)||Independent|
|Ms Allison Marion||Planner - Parks Victoria|
|Mr Robert Andy||Indigenous Liaison Officer - East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority|
|Ms Shannon Conway||Natural Resource Planner - East Gippsland Shire Council|
|Mr Nik Phizacklea||Executive Officer – Fisheries Co-management Council (FCC)|
|Mr Bill Tregonning||Lake Tyers Aboriginal Trust|
|Dr Murray MacDonald||Manager Bay & Inlet Fisheries|
|Mr Graeme Evans||Member – Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (VRFish)|