Changes for yabby fishing gear

Since 1 July 2019, opera house nets has been banned in all Victorian public and private waters.

As opera house nets can still legally be used in some other states, fishers may reasonably be in possession of them in Victoria and use them when travelling and fishing interstate waters.

Fishing tackle stores can still sell opera house nets, however as other states also move to ban the use of opera house nets, it is expected that the retail market for opera house nets will dry up. Other more wildlife friendly nets are increasingly available to purchase from tackle stores.

For further information email Taylor Hunt, Fisheries Manager on


Many fishers who have purchased opera house nets to fish for yabbies were unaware that, prior to our Yabby Net Swap Program, these nets were 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 native 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 has collected surrendered opera house nets from the Yabby Net Swap Program and are 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 all private waters and most public waters. Click here to read about where open top lift nets cannot be used.

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.