A new slot limit for black bream will come into effect from April 1 as part of a range of improvements in the now finalised Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan.

Consultation on the plan and black bream fishing rules saw a record number of responses to the Victorian Fisheries Authority’s (VFA) survey of recreational fishers, with almost 4,400 submissions.

Click here to view the plan.

The new black bream slot limit of 28-38cm was strongly endorsed during consultation and will apply to the Gippsland Lakes and its tributaries.

The minimum size limit of 28cm remains unchanged and will be enhanced by a new maximum size limit of 38cm that will provide added protection for larger bream.

Large black bream are more prolific breeders, produce more eggs and contribute more to future generations, so a slot limit makes sense for protecting larger breeding fish which will contribute to rebuilding black bream stocks.

The new slot limit is evidence-based and underpinned by science with modelling indicating 12 per cent more breeding black bream will remain in the population with the slot limit in place.

The performance of the fishery will continue to be monitored and black bream bag limits will be reviewed in response to indicators during the first two years of the plan.

A steering committee will also be established to oversee the plan’s implementation and review after five years.

Last year commercial netting was removed from the Gippsland Lakes, paving the way for the plan. The removal of commercial net fishing is an important first step to facilitate future stock rebuilding for species such as black bream and dusky flathead. The removal of commercial fishing pressure will result in a major increase in fish abundance and will support further boosts to natural recruitment processes for resident fish stocks on a grand scale, safeguarding the recreational fishery for the future.

The Plan provides a road map to restoring fish stocks and recreational fishing opportunities a six-point ‘learn by doing’ approach which includes:

  1. Involvement of recreational fishers, traditional owners and community partners
  2. New regulations for recreational fishing, including changes to catch and size limits for iconic species such as black bream
  3. Fish stocking throughout the Lakes system
  4. Improving fish habitat and waterway health
  5. Monitoring the success of our actions
  6. Review our processes

By improving habitat, installing artificial reefs and stocking of key species including estuary perch and Australian bass, the Victorian Fisheries Authority aims to accelerate the recovery of key recreational fish species such as black bream and dusky flathead.

To learn more about the work being done to trial stockings of dusky flathead, click here.