Ray protection fishing rules

We are making changes to ray, skate and guitarfish fishing rules.southern eagle ray

These new rules commence on Tuesday 7 November 2017.

The new rules:

  1. Prohibit the take or possession of sting rays, skates or guitarfish greater than 1.5 metres in width;
  2. Reduce the combined daily bag limit for rays, skates and guitarfish from 5 to 1, which are smaller than 1.5 metres in width;
  3. Prohibit the take of these species within 400m of any pier, jetty, wharf or breakwater;
  4. Require these species to be landed whole so they can be measured by Fisheries Officers.

An education and awareness program will be conducted to educate fishers about these new rules.

Background

Rays, skates and guitarfish are valued by the Victorian community for:

- the contribution they make to the ecosystemsmooth ray

- the enjoyment they bring to snorkelers, divers, pier visitors and tourists

- the food and enjoyment they bring to some recreational fishers and seafood consumers.

These changes are in response to community concern about the cruel treatment of rays by a small proportion of fishers. In 2017, there has been increasing community concern in response to the killing of large smooth rays and fiddler rays.

The Victoria Fisheries Authority (VFA):

- expects all Victorians to engage in responsible fishing which means respecting rays, banjo sharks and all other fish and treating them humanely.

- believes that the fishing rules for rays, skates and guitarfish need updating to recognise and better balance all of their values.

The VFA has worked with the community, Project Banjo Action Group and fishers:

- to understand the range of community viewsSparsely Spotted Stingaree

- to propose new ray fishing rules that are balanced, respectful and socially acceptable.

As a result new rules were proposed. A 90 day public consultation process was held. The majority of responders supported increasing protection for rays in Victorian waters. After considering the range of information and views that were raised, the VFA proposed the new rules below

Explaining the new rules

  1. Prohibit the take or possession of stingrays, skates or guitarfish greater than 1.5 metres in width.
  2. Reduce the combined daily bag limit for rays, skates and guitarfish from 5 to 1, which must be less than 1.5 metres in width.

    These rules:
    • recognise the values these fish – and particularly large rays - have for all Victorians
    • allow recreational fishers to catch and keep a ray, skate or guitarfish that is smaller than 1.5m wide.
    • allow a combined daily bag limit of one
    • protect large rays (bigger than 1.5m wide).
  3. Prohibit the take of these species within 400m of any pier, jetty, wharf or breakwater.

    This rule:
    • recognises rays, skates and guitarfish are valued ecologically and socially by snorkelers, divers, tourists and other visitors to piers and jetties
    • recognises that piers, jetties, wharves and breakwaters are the main locations where people interact with them.
  4. Require these species to be landed whole so they can be measured by Fisheries Officers.

    This rule enables Fisheries Officers to determine whether a fisher has obeyed the 1.5 metre maximum size limit.

    It also aims to reduce cruelty in the form of:
    • flap cutting
    • finning
    • carcass dumping
    • tail removal
    • other types of injury.

Note:

The bag limit is the maximum number of fish that a person can catch and keep in any one calendar day.

Carcass form means fishers can only gut, gill and scale fish they want to keep. Filleting or cutting fish into smaller pieces is not permitted.

Remember, all unwanted catch must be returned to the water immediately and with least possible injury or damage. Fines apply.