SRFR Meeting #34 - 14 March 2014

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #34

Forum date: Friday March 14th 2014
Location: Fisheries Victoria, 1 Spring St, Melbourne.


Chair's Summary

The key items discussed at the 34th Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum were:

  • 2013 Snobs Creek fish production and stocking.
  • Recreational Fishing Licence review.
  • Fisheries Victoria Regionalisation Process.
  • Murray cod slot limits
  • Native fish stocking evaluation project.
  • Inland Estuary Perch.
  • Lake Nagambie economic study.
  • Possible Metropolitan fisheries.
  • Overview of Fisheries science.
  • Spear fishing in Victorian waters.
  • Restricted access to the Goulburn River.
  • Update of Goughs Bay boat ramp.
  • Bemm River access.
  • Current VRFish Activity.
1.  Fisheries Victoria ED activity report:

Fisheries Victoria Executive Director, Ross McGowan, provided an update of current projects and activities including:

Fish Stocking and Production 

  • Ross reported that it has been a great year in terms of stocking fish and production at Snobs Creek.
  • Anthony Forster, Freshwater Fisheries Manager reported the following numbers produced at Snobs Creek -
    • Murray cod 514,300
    • Macquarie perch 73,000
    • Trout cod 25,500
    • Rainbow trout 244,382
    • Brown trout 228,816
    • Chinook salmon 88,100
    • Totalling: 1,174,098

Recreational Fishing Licence Review

  • At the request of Bill Sykes, Ross McGowan briefed a group of Parliamentarians on March 13th.
  • The stakeholder reference group met approximately six weeks ago to discuss and assist with development of the RFL Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS).
  • The Minister has made his intentions clear that he supports the review.
  • The Minister has requested the RIS document go to broader public for comments. The RIS document will be circulated to public in the next 3-4 weeks.

Fisheries Vic. Regionalisation Process

  • Ross McGowan reported that the regionalisation process was instigated as a result of the amalgamation of DSE and DPI (forming DEPI). Ross has recently commenced a Clause 10 process which is about consulting with staff and putting in place a new model for Fisheries Victoria (across Regulation and Compliance and also includes Biosecurity and Farm Services). The Clause 10 proposes that the 74 Fisheries Officers will report through a Regional Director rather than to ED Fisheries Victoria. There are six regions across the state (Barwon South West, Grampians, Port Phillip, Gippsland, Loddon Mallee and Hume). DEPI are working to ensure accountability and service delivery are maintained for a consistent stakeholder experience.
  • The expectations from the ED is that it is business as usual. Anglers should not notice the difference. Fisheries Officers are still using the Fisheries Act and there will be a group in Melbourne that will set the standards of the expectations of Government.
2. Inland Fisheries Managers' Report:

Anthony Forster, Manager, Freshwater Fisheries provided an update of current projects and activities including:

Murray Cod slot limits

  • Regional forums were conducted and feedback from recreational anglers received. A reference group was established and a presentation held at Lake Eildon. All attendees were supportive of the work being done and unanimously supported the need to change and improve the Murray cod slot limits. Many recreational fishers understand the science and want to progress to the next stage.
  • The next stage is to meet with VRFish and conservation groups to share and discuss outcomes. Once all information is received, a proposal to the Government will be considered to undertake public consultation to change Murray cod bag and size limits by Fisheries Notice.

Native Fish stocking evaluation project

  • Anthony Forster advised the meeting that over the last three years Fisheries Victoria have stocked more than 2 million calcein-marked native fish. Fish population surveys are being conducted on Lake Eildon, Campaspe River, Goulburn River, Kow Swamp, Gunbower Creek and Loddon River to understand: a) how stocked fish contribute to the wild fishery population, b) what level of natural breeding is taking place, and c) how cost effective the stocking has been.

Inland Estuary Perch

  • Stocked estuary perch fingerlings (40-50mm in length) are now approaching 25 cm in Lake Bolac. The impact of predators on stocked fish was questioned. Anthony advised that while early predation on stocked fish is expected, pulse stocking (large numbers) of native fish is employed to maximise survival and growth of released fish.
  • In 2013 Fisheries Victoria stocked 107,000 estuary perch into 7 different waters (Lake Bolac, Lake Struan, Lake Beaufort, Lake Hamilton, Lake Pertobe, Devilbend Reservoir and Albert Park Lake) .

Survey of NE Victoria trout streams

  • Based on angler feedback of poor trout fishing in north east trout rivers, Fisheries Victoria commissioned ARI to assess trout populations at 13 sites in the King, Howqua, Jamieson and Goulburn Rivers. The results show very few fish in the lower reaches which reflects angler feedback. The abundance of trout increased in the higher altitude / upland stretches, in particular, in the Goulburn River.
  • At the survey sites, water temperature ranged from 19-23 degrees at 8am in the lower stretches of these regions. This water temperature is expected to increase by 3 or 4 degrees during the day.
  • John Douglas (Fisheries Manager) and ARI are analysing the results of the survey and will present the findings to recreational fisher representatives workshop at Snobs Creek.
  • Bill Sykes noted the intense interest in the room and requested Anthony Forster put dot points in a media release (noting they are observations at this stage, that further analysis is required, that in all probability further work might be required and alerting people an expert panel to workshop these results may be formed).

Access to Lake Bullen Merri

  • Anthony Forster advised that Fisheries Victoria have drafted an agreement with landholders to indemnify land holders from public liability associated with public access along the western shoreline of Lake Bullen Merri. This involved an independent risk assessment, consultation with Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA).
  • This agreement has been drafted and largely reflected what has been done previously, and has been secured by the government.
  • Fisheries Victoria is negotiating with landholders, including two letters to date and several phone calls. At this stage, it appears there is a general reluctance by land holders to enter into an agreement with government to provide access. Landholders have indicated concern about potential damage to livestock and potential damage to land e.g. fire risk and other business risks.

Lake Nagambie Economic Study

  • The meeting was advised that the Strathbogie Shire is supporting the economic assessment of fishing at Lake Nagambie. Details to be advised.

Metro waters

  • A working group has been established and has met once formally. A meeting has occurred with Melbourne Water who are reviewing a long list of potential urban waters that could be developed as recreational fisheries.

Stocked Bass

  • It was reported that Australian bass, stocked in Gippsland over the last 9 years, are performing well. In particular at Blue Rock Lake and Lake Glenmaggie. Blue Rock Lake is now nationally recognised as a good bass fishery.
3. Paul Hamer - Senior Research Scientist, Fisheries Victoria

Presenter: Paul Hamer, Senior Scientist, Marine and Estuarine Finfish.  FV                       

Paul presented the following -

  • An overview of fisheries science and the role it plays within Fisheries Victoria.
  • Paul explained to all members that science at its core aims to determine numbers of fish, determine how many fish it is ok to remove, provide advice on how to manage the removal of fish to meet the various social-economic-political objectives and determine what underpins fisheries productivity.
  • Fisheries science is considered the engine room, the driver, feeding information to managers on how to meet objectives of Fisheries Acts, management plans and other statutory obligations.
  • Four key components of fisheries science are research, monitoring, stock assessment and communications.
  • Paul is currently project leader for a major project identifying snapper migratory dynamics which aims to determine and understand fish migration and population behaviour.
  • Monitoring of juvenile recruitment currently occurs for snapper, King George whiting and sand flathead in Port Phillip Bay and black bream in the Gippsland Lakes.
4. Chairman: Round Table Discussions

Ric Fallu –Southern Freedivers of Victoria - Current spear fishing in Victoria and ways forward for improvement

  • Ric informed all members that spear fishing is a lawful form of recreational fishing, legitimised by recreational fishing licence. It is growing with young entrants and needs to maintain and enhance opportunities especially for these new entrants.
  • Ric identified the major issues and desires associated with spearfishing to be:
    • Sector has been marginalised over the years, reducing access to fishery resource.
    • Spear fishers want parity with other recreational sectors (meaning access to species, waters, and a slice of licence money and reform of some regulations).
    • Would like access to the species of carp and additional waters (estuaries and one clear inland water where carp are present). Access to these desired waters is required because they are great training grounds for new entrants and are a safe place when ocean conditions are hazardous.
    • Desired spending on near shore kingfish FADs and artificial reefs shallow enough for free diver access (10-16 metres)
    • Regulatory reform - would recommend evaluating current abalone catch limits, rock lobster catch methods and the blue groper management plan.
  • In summary, Ric mentioned spearfishing, when appropriately managed, is selective, safe and sustainable.

Rod Barford – President, Australian Trout Foundation

  • Rod reported that he has been communicating with the property manager who has had to restrict access to the Brooks Cutting Areas in Alexandra, along the Goulburn River. Rod's advice to the property manager was to keep the gate locked to protect himself and his farming property (part of the track leading to the river is private property).
  • This access is along a private land as the public road has moved over the years. Rectifying this issue appears complex and may need large works on the easement. Rod requested that Fisheries Victoria speak with the Shire to help regain river access.
  • Rod to provide Brian with additional information and plans and Brian will make some enquiries and report back at the next meeting with a further update.
  • Fisheries advised that they will follow up.

Additionally, Rod reported on the following –

  • A further update regarding the Mount Unicorn Mining Project.
  • Rod informed all members that the danger to the trout fishery is the creek is a major spawning area that, if lost, would be a major impact on the local fishing tourism community. EPA appear initially happy with the proposal as it stands on paper.
  • Rod is still trying to obtain more information as to current status. It appears Dart Mining have already commenced unauthorised works on digging.
  • Rod raised this issue also to understand the impact on Fisheries Victoria and what Fisheries Victoria intend to do for risk management.
  • Anthony Forster suggested Fisheries Victoria could ask for a full referral so that a proper analysis could be conducted.

Don Ellis – Metropolitan Anglers Association

Update of Goughs Bay boat ramps upgrades.

  • Don reported that in 2013 the Mansfield Shire, in collaboration with Fisheries Victoria, upgraded boat ramps around Goughs Bay however he has received feedback from anglers that to get on to those ramps in Lake Eildon is very difficult under high water conditions.
  • Don questioned/suggested access may be improved by the addition of pontoons or jetties for boaters. This has become a safety issue particularly during high waters.
  • Brian Mottram agreed to discuss it with the Shire to see what is possible to improve the concern.

Concerns with Bemm River access.

  • Don reported many years ago access to the Bemm River shoreline was available through a track and through a number of regions. The landholder has since removed access to the track with the only access now being to walk a fair distance.
  • Don requested Fisheries Victoria commence negotiations with the landholder about resuming access – discussions have not been fruitful to date.
  • Brian Mottram agreed to follow up and investigate possible actions/improvements. Don to provide details of the area.

Dallas D'Silva – Executive Office, VRFish

Update of current VRFish activities.

  • Dallas reminded all members of the goals of VRFish is to
    • to responsibly grow recreational fishing in the State,
    • position Victoria as the premier fishing destination in Australia and create high quality fishing experiences, and
    • increase community acceptance about fishing 'social licence'.
  • He advised that VRFish current activities include:
    • the Western Port development (regarding Port of Hastings and Port Phillip Bay becoming major Ports).
    • Corio Bay (meeting with commercial fishers on Sunday about how to work together to reduce conflict and have no commercial netting in PPB).
    • Marine Parks (Undertaking a grant application for risk assessment of different methods of fishing within marine parks)

Additionally, Dallas advised that VRFish is currently considering questions of funding, cost sharing and cost recovery agreements and policies

  • Ross McGowan recommended VRFISH take careful consideration before entering a cost recovery environment.

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum – June 13th 2014.

Chair:                        Merv McGuire

 Secretariat:              Emma Young

Summary Dated:       08/04/2014

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #34.