Proposed changes for Murray cod season in western Victoria

Introduction

In 2016, the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) consulted with recreational anglers and removed the closed Murray cod closed season at Lake Eildon.

The change has been a huge success and provided keen cod fishers with a destination during September, October, and November each year when other cod waters are closed.

Removing the Murray cod closed season at Lake Eildon has delivered year-round fishing opportunities consistent with the State Government’s plan to get more people fishing, more often through its $35 million Target One Million plan.

Lifting the Murray cod closed season at Lake Eildon has also shifted fishing pressure from rivers, where Murray cod naturally breed and allow them to ‘have a rest when they’re on the nest’, consistent with the Care for Cod campaign.

The case for stocked western Victorian Murray cod fisheries

In 2020, VRFish, the representative body for recreational fishers in Victoria, wrote to VFA requesting the Murray cod closed season be removed in the Wimmera and Millicent basins, for the following reasons:

  • The Wimmera and Millicent basins are outside the natural range for Murray cod
  • Murray cod are stocked annually into waters within these basins (two million Murray cod stocked since 2000), creating put-and-take Murray cod fisheries at places such as Taylors Lake, Lake Charlegrark, Rocklands Reservoir and Lake Bellfield
  • Natural recruitment of Murray cod in these waters is typically low, meaning the closed season has very little benefit to the Murray cod populations and fisheries
  • Lifting the closed season on these waters will provide year-round Murray cod fishing and a valuable boost to regional businesses in the Wimmera and Millicent basins that depend on tourism
  • Lifting the closed season on these waters will shift fishing pressure from natural systems where Murray cod do breed

The proposal was discussed by the Murray cod Fisher Reference Group in early 2021 and support provided to lift the closed season on all waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, except the Wimmera River.

While the Wimmera River is outside the natural range of Murray cod, initial feedback from fishers suggests the species is more likely to breed there and should be afforded the extra protection of the closed season.

How to have your say

The VFA is now seeking recreational fisher input on a fisheries notice proposal to improve freshwater fishing opportunities by removing the three-month closed season for Murray cod in all waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, except the Wimmera River.

To make a submission on the proposal, please email haveyoursay@vfa.vic.gov.au by 5pm Sunday 28 March 2021.

The VFA have also formally written to key recreational fishing groups relating to this proposal, including VRFish, Native Fish Australia, Futurefish Foundation and the Wimmera Anglers Association.

For further information, please feel free to call or email Taylor Hunt, Acting Manager Freshwater Fisheries on 0418 478 028 or taylor.hunt@vfa.vic.gov.au