Changes for Murray cod season in western Victoria

In 2021, the three-month closed season for Murray cod has been removed in all waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, except the Wimmera River.

The reasons for the change include:

  • 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

In early 2021, the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) consulted with recreational anglers on a Fisheries Notice proposal to implement these changes.

The proposal was strongly supported by recreational fishers, including recreational fishing representative organisations such as VRFish, Native Fish Australia, the Wimmera Anglers Association and the Mid-Northern Anglers Association.

This Fisheries Notice will expire in 12 months and the VFA will reconsult with recreational fishers on maintaining these regulations in 2022.

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

Background

In 2016, the 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.

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.

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.

In February 2021, the VFA sought recreational fisher input on a Fisheries Notice proposal to remove the three-month closed season for Murray cod in all waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, except the Wimmera River. A 30-day public consultation was conducted and the proposal was communicated and shared via a media release, dedicated webpage, social media post. The VFA also formally wrote to key recreational fishing groups inviting their feedback on this proposal, including VRFish, Native Fish Australia, Futurefish Foundation and the Wimmera Anglers Association.

The consultation has now been completed resulting in strong support from recreational fishers including from VRFish, Native Fish Australia, the Wimmera Anglers Association and the Mid-Northern Anglers Association.

As a result, the Fisheries Notice has been gazetted and in 2021 the three-month closed season for Murray cod has been removed in all waters of the Wimmera and Millicent basins, except the Wimmera River.