Frequently asked questions

1. What fishing equipment can I currently use to catch yabbies for recreational purposes in public waters?

Under current fisheries regulations, Victorian recreational fishers can use the following equipment to harvest yabbies:

a) Not more than 10 baited lines (no hooks),

b) Not more than 2 bait traps (labelled) – see below

Bait trap

c) Not more than 5 hoop nets in specified waters (see page 60 of the Recreational Fishing Guide) – see below

Hoop net 

d) A combination of 10 nets (labelled) that are hoop nets or open top lift nets in specified waters (see page 60 of the Recreational Fishing Guide)  – see below

Open top lift net 

Note: Opera house cannot be used to collect yabbies in public waters. From 1 July 2019, they cannot be used in private waters e.g. farm dams.

Opera house net 

2. What fishing equipment can I currently use to catch yabbies for recreational purposes in private waters?

Under current regulations, in addition to equipment used in public waters (see above), yabbies can also be collected from private waters e.g. farm dams using opera house nets – see diagram.

3. In comparison with opera house nets, how effective are open-top lift nets at catching yabbies?

We compared the catch performance of six different yabby net types and found that more yabbies can be caught when actively fishing open top pyramid nets than passively fishing opera house nets. We found that while opera house nets caught more yabbies over long soak times (6 and 12 hours – passive fishing), over short soak times (set and lifted every hour – active fishing) open top pyramid nets caught the most yabbies. 

For further information about the research, please download a full copy of the research report here [PDF File - 880.2 KB] or email taylor.hunt@vfa.vic.gov.au.

Brown, P., Hunt, T. L., and Khageswor, G. (2015) Effects of gear type, entrance size and soak time on trap efficiency for freshwater crayfish, Cherax destructor and Cherax albidus. Marine and Freshwater Research 66 (11), 989-998.

4. How do we know opera house nets kill air breathing water rats, platypus and turtles?

We have received many reports and photographs of opera house nets drowning turtles, water rats and platypus. In addition, our Fisheries Officers have observed mortality of these species in both public and private wetlands and dams.

5. Do opera house nets keep catching yabbies and other bycatch ('ghost fish') if they are lost?

Yes, opera house nets that are lost by fishers (e.g. if snagged and irretrievable), continue catching yabbies and other bycatch species, most of which cannot escape. Trapped / decaying yabbies in the opera house nets attract other species which also become trapped. This is called "ghost" fishing.

6. Why can't we ban the use of opera house nets sooner that July 2019?

The 1 July 2019 timeframe provides time for fishing tackle stores and importers to transition from the purchase and sale of opera house nets to wildlife friendly open top lift nets. As most yabby nets are manufactured overseas, ordering and supply lead times can be long and costly. We will also use this time to run an extensive education and awareness campaign and facilitate the one-for-one exchange program enabling fishers to trade in their old opera house nets for free 'wildlife friendly' open top lift nets.

7. How do I hand back my old opera house in exchange it for an open top lift net?

After the completion of Stage 1, we will begin work on Stage 2, which will involve the purchasing up to 10,000 open top lift nets that will be made available to exchange for old opera house nets at no cost to recreational fishers. We will make these nets available at participating tackle stores, major fishing and agricultural events and from our regional Fisheries Officers during their routine patrols. More details of the exchange program, including locations where they can be exchanged, registration details, limits on the numbers of nets exchanged per person and disposal of opera house nets will be announced in spring of 2018. 

8. Are other states also planning to ban the use of opera house yabby nets?

We understand that NSW Fisheries are reviewing the use of opera house nets and are soon to release a discussion paper.

9. What's the bag and possession limits for yabbies?

The daily bag/possession limit is 20 litres of whole yabbies or 150 whole yabbies. The absolute state-wide possession limit is 60 litres of whole yabbies or 400 yabbies or 10 litres of yabbies (other than whole yabbies) not exceeding 400 tails. Berried (egg-carrying) female yabbies must be returned to the water.

10. What are the dimensions for open top lift nets?

Open top lift nets are a square or rectangular net open at the top that - 

  1. is not more than 60 centimetres long and not more than 60 centimetres wide; and
  2. has a mesh net height more than 15 centimetres perpendicular from the base; and
  3. has a top opening of not less than 20 centimetres by 20 centimetres; and
  4. does not have any internal device designed for use, or capable of use, in connection with the taking of yabby;

Example diagram of an open top lift net:

Open top lift net 

11. Are we planning to ban the sale and possession of opera house nets?

No, our focus is on phasing out and then banning the use of opera house nets from 1 July 2019.  As opera house nets can still legally be used in some other states, some fishers may reasonably be in possession of them in Victoria and use them for travelling and fishing interstate waters.

By working with recreational fishers and the tackle sector on a large-scale education and awareness campaign and facilitating an exchange/hand back mechanism, we expect the number of opera house nets available for sale and in circulation to fall significantly over the next few years.

12. Can I keep using opera house nets to harvest yabbies from private farm dams?

 No, from 1 July 2019, it will be illegal to use opera house nets in any waters in Victoria, including private farm dams and wetlands. To ensure yabby fishers aren't disadvantaged by the phasing out of opera house nets, we are organising a hand-back/exchange mechanism.