Changes for yabby fishing gear

The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) plans to change the types of yabby nets that can be used by recreational anglers. The changes, to be introduced from 1 July 2019, will simplify yabby fishing rules and ban the use of opera house nets in all Victorian waters.

Many fishers who have purchased opera house nets to fish for yabbies were unaware that these nets are currently banned in all Victorian public waters. The opera house nets were banned because their use has been implicated in the drowning of air breathing wildlife, such as water rats (rakali), platypus and turtles. VFA’s research has shown alternative 'wildlife friendly' yabby nets, such as open top lift nets, are just as effective at catching yabbies.

To help recreational fishers transition to wildlife friendly yabby nets, the VFA offered a one-for-one trade-in, whereby fishers were able to swap up to three of their old opera house nets for free ‘wildlife friendly’ open top lift nets – The Yabby Net Swap Program.

The Yabby Net Swap Program was an outstanding success with strong support from recreational fishers, VRFish, Future Fish, tackle stores, conservationists and the general public. Between December 2018 and February 2019, 20,000 wildlife friendly open top lift nets were distributed via 67 tackle stores throughout Victoria to recreational fishers.

The VFA is now in the process of collecting the 23,000 surrendered opera house nets from the Yabby Net Swap Program and exploring options to recycle or repurpose the surrendered opera house net materials to minimise landfill.

Encouragingly, many tackle stores and distributors have now discontinued their sale of opera house nets and are now selling wildlife friendly nets. Wildlife friendly open top nets can be legally used in both public and private Victorian waters.

The Victorian Minister for Fisheries and Boating has also recommended that other states consider a phase out of opera house nets via a yabby net swap initiative to benefit air breathing fauna, improve yabby fishing, provide recreational anglers with consistency across borders and simplify business for tackle stores and their customers.

If you require further information, please email Taylor Hunt, Fisheries Manager on taylor.hunt@vfa.vic.gov.au