SRFR Meeting #36 - 12 September 2014

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #36

Forum date: Friday September 12th 2014
Location: Fisheries Victoria, 1 Spring St, Melbourne.

Chair's Summary

Key items discussed at the 36th Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum were:

  • Follow up actions from previous forum.
  • Fisheries common consultation period.
  • Abalone open season.
  • Dusky Flathead slot limit.
  • Commercial Pippis cap on harvest.
  • Commercial fishing exclusion zone of Torquay.
  • Proposed actions for declining trout populations NE Victoria.
  • Murray cod size and bag limits review.
  • Fish stocking evaluation project.
  • Fisheries regionalization process re: education and compliance.
  • Snobs Creek Board of Governance.
  • Port Phillip reef recovery program.
  • Snapper tracking in Port Phillip Bay.
  • Parks Vic monetary charge for charter boat users.
  • Devilbend fishery update.
1. Previous Forum actions follow up:

River Access – Brooks Cutting Area

Investigations into this complex issue have commenced with discussions with Bill Sykes. The road is positioned on private property. Further discussions and works to be done in consultation with the Mansfield Shire. Brian Mottram will follow up directly with Rod Barford (ATF).

Brian and Rod have been working on this issue.  After looking further into the issue Brian feels that they are potentially at a dead end as potentially unsolvable.  The landowner has done a lot towards providing access to anglers and there are other access areas.  It might be up to the local council to resurvey the area and realign where the current roads are – however, as the road is listed as unused it is not a council priority.  Bill Sykes mentioned as the council are lacking operating funds it is unlikely to come to the fore regarding this.

Willow Tree Removals

Rod Barford provided past photos to Brian Mottram. Brian has followed up with Goulburn Murray Water. More recent photos show revegetation and the area recovering well, with trees only 3-4 years old but with the potential for a good result in the longer term and provision of shade close to the river. Brian to provide a copy of these photos to Rod. Bill Sykes clarified that the North East CMA and Goulburn Murray Water CMA are following the same processes to engage land holders. Brian informed members of another area that has been badly affected by the fires and confirmed this has not been the work of Goulburn Murray Water CMA. Anthony Forster confirmed there is excellent communication and cooperation between rec fishers and the CMAs. Anthony has met with nine CMAs and from 8/9 of those meetings, willows were discussed as a key issue. The local CMAs have acknowledged they need to engage fishers directly and are changing their processes accordingly.

Anthony Forster has discussed willow removal with DEPI, NECMA, GBCMA about creating an approach for all CMAs to apply regarding willow management. A reference group may also be established. 

Bemm River access

Don Ellis provided Brian Mottram with a report of concerns re access.  Brian will review this document and report back at the September meeting.

After some investigative work Brian mentioned that cars have not been given access since the 90s.  There is car parking available and a track in for access.  Don mentioned that while the track is there it is overgrown and the river banks are also overgrown and difficult to access.  Locals are supportive of opening up the access track to allow better angler access.  While anglers support the vegetation there should also be some specific access points.  Brian to look some more into this issue.

2. Fisheries Victoria Executive Director's activity report:

Luke Cromie presented FV activity report on behalf of Fisheries Victoria Executive Director - Ross McGowan.

In summary:

  • Fisheries have proposed going to a common consultation period August/September and an expiry date for all fisheries notices in October. 
  • Abalone open season – proposing a common starting and closing date for each year.
  • Dusky flathead – proposing a 12 month continuation of the slot limit.
  • Snapper – in shore trawling for prawns etc restricting Snapper being harvested.
  • Commercial Pippis – cap to be placed on harvest.
  • Exclusion zone for commercial fishing off Torquay over artificial reef – has consulted with commercial fishers and where needed have amended proposal to ensure parties are happy.
  • Broad communication is used for any proposed changes.
3. Inland Fisheries Managers' Report:

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

Wild trout management plan:

Reference group and public meetings have been held.  The plan to include a comprehensive scientific study into assessing the issue – presented to the RFL working group. Anthony advised that the plan has been funded in full.

Murray cod limits review:

  • Formal consultation process is complete – magazines, forums, etc – feedback is generally supportive.
  • The Minister's office has approved the changes to slot limits.
  • Marc Ainsworth led the group through the advertising, fisheries notice campaign of the Murray cod proposals as a case study for future releases – could be a new benchmark in communicating with stakeholders.

Fish stocking evaluation:

  • Report is still being finalised.
  • 98% Lake Eildon surveyed fish are stocked fish
  • Lakes performed generally better than rivers for stocking outcomes – some rivers had minimal return on stocked fish
  • This and other evaluation allows for informed responsiveness and better understanding of stocking investment.
4. Ian Parks - Acting Director, FV Education and Enforcement

Presentation of Fisheries Vic. regionalisation process regarding education and compliance.

  • Paul Shea (FV) introduced the members to the changes in the structure of fisheries officers and how that plays out.  Regional structure instead of state wide.  Their roles are exactly the same.  The focus, processes, priorities, programs, operations and committees have not changed.  There is still the ability to move staff around to areas of need where a specific operation requires this.  Until the regions are up and running properly Paul will assist in a more direct role there.  When things are running smoothly he will then move more into a business and strategic type function.
  • Ian advised there are 18 fisheries offices/stations and that there are 73 officers across the state. Ian discussed the role of the officers. 

Concerns raised included:

  • Is the message getting out there about the actual volume and magnitude of fisheries officers work?  There is a lot of public comment around never being seen by officers. John Willis provided an example where there has been good exposure during snapper season.  Ian led the group through some of the intelligence capture after Merv asked the question of 13 FISH.  13 FISH accounts for around 25% of intelligence data – over the years the number of calls might not have increased but the quality has.  It has been a very valuable tool.
  • How is the education side working?  Ian said that a lot of the education work is done through a risk/needs based approach.  A lot of the education money is spent in the multicultural community as there is a demonstrated need seen through the offences data.  Education efforts are focused into areas where the intelligence suggests it is most needed.
  • Partnerships with English language educators in communicating fisheries regulations as a way of increasing the distance their educational money can reach.
  • Ross Winstanly asked whether there had been any work in assessing the needs and work done by Fishcare and their value?  Ian discussed that Fishcare's focus as teaching fishing seemed to be slightly different that the education priority of fisheries around regulations and environment.
  • Anthony suggested that Dave Cleeland (Fishcare) could put together a presentation for the group around Fishcare and the work they had done in analyzing their focus.
5. Bill Sykes - Parliamentary Secretary for Dept of Environment and Primary Industries                         

Presentation of Vic Government's ongoing commitment to Recreational fishing with an insight to future support and initiatives.

  • Dr. Sykes introduced his session with an acknowledgement of the good work Fisheries have been doing over the last couple of years.  He congratulated the forum too.  The one comment for improvement he suggested was capturing the thoughts of the many unrepresented cultures that reside across Victoria.  He congratulated fisheries on their communication approach through the regional roundtables and Goulburn Fishing Festival, etc.
  • He advised -  The minister is yet to release the govt's election policy commitments.  
  • Potential changes to the RFL structure are expected to implement by July 2015.
6. Brian Mottram – Manager Recreational Fishing Improvements

Snobs Creek Board of Governance update.

  • As part of the RFL expenditure towards fish production and liberation an advisory board for Snobs Creek would be set up that included recreational anglers to advise on matters relating to fishing production and liberation.  The Advisory Board's role is to identify and assess strategic opportunities to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of fish production and liberation operations into the future.
  • Concern was raised by Merv about who is on the SC board of governance as Native Fish Aust and the Aust Trout Foundation are not represented giving that it is a hatchery producing trout and native fish.
  • The final makeup of the group has not been announced or approved.  We expect an announcement on this soon.
7. Other Business

Ross Winstanley: Update Port Phillip Reef Recovery program.

  • The first stage was a project plan produced by Paul Hame.  The next stage is a small trial reef.  Following that will be three trial oyster reefs.  There has been good publicity given to the program and the goal through VRFish publication, media release from Minister's office, Victorian Fishing Monthly.
  • Update of Snapper tracking in Port Phillip Bay.
  • Paul Hamer (FV Research Scientist) is currently in discussion with a project reference group about some recent progress being made with snapper research.  This should be presented at an upcoming meeting.
  • There has been no progress update on the DEPI website on the acoustic tagging for some months.  Paul H. should have some information ready from this project by the next meeting.

Dallas D'Silva:   VRFish           

  • Presented activity update including "wish list" for upcoming election. 

Rod Barford – Australian Trout Foundation

  • Happy with the outcomes of the recent Vicfish stock meetings
  • Unhappy with the recent article in the "Good Weekend" in The Age recently.  The ATF felt it was ridiculous to the point it didn't justify a reply.
  • Concern over brushoff chemical being used via a raft over a waterway along the Jamieson near Silvermine Gorge.  Witness statements from Mansfield.  Brian suggested letting the Chemical standards group.
  • Unhappy about trout being referred to as aliens in the GBCMA phone app.  They are a managed game species.
  • Rod announced he would be stepping down from the Presidency role in the ATF in about a month's time.

Tom Camp – Devil Bend Reservoir

  • Tom reported that as a fishery it is going really great.  As a family destination it is going really well in terms of walking areas etc.  However the fishing areas though are bogged with weed.  Harvesting of the weed is being considered.  Tom would like Fisheries to keep in contact with Parks about what is going on with it as he is not in the loop.  There is going to be some consultation about boating on Devil Bend.

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #36.

Chairman: Merv McGuire                                                                                      
Secretariat: Emma Young

Summary Dated: 17/11/2014

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #37 – Scheduled December 3rd 2014.