SRFR Meeting #37 - 3 December 2014

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #37

Forum date: Wednesday December 3rd 2014

Location: Fisheries Victoria, 1 Spring St., Melbourne.

Chair's Summary

Key items discussed at the 37th Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum were:

  • Follow up actions from previous forum.
  • Progress of the RFL review.
  • Broad outline of the Labor Party's recreational fishing policies.
  • Snobs Creek hatchery fish production.
  • Three new urban stocking waters.
  • Improved communication with angling clubs.
  • Update on Wild Trout Management plan.
  • Environmental flows.
  • Angling Club data base program.
  • Progress of new Murray cod regulations.
  • Fish stocking highlights.
  • Update on Recreational Fishing Improvements program.
  • The role of research in fisheries management.
  • VRFish activity update.
  • Port Phillip Bay fishery performance.
  • Development of length to weight rulers for whiting.
  • Fisheries communications update.

1/   Previous Forum actions follow up:

Water access concerns - Bemm River.

Fisheries advised of a State-wide approach to address water access issues. VRFish advised they are working on a state-wide report and strategy.

Brian Mottram to follow up further on the Bemm River access.

Future agenda item will be titled "access update", to include all waters access concerns and be delivered by Brian Mottram.

FV Regional Roundtables

The meeting was advised that300+ fishers attended across all meetings. 60 to 70 people attended both the Nagambie and Bendigo meetings with the cod slots and trout management plans the most popular issues. Presentations focused issues/projects relevant to the specific regions.

Wild Trout Fishery Management plan

The forum was updated on the progress of the wild trout plan and advised that the progress could be monitored on the fisheries website It was suggested that a short term action is needed to address particularly devastated rivers through stocking.

It was also suggested that the trout reference group be formalised.

Recreational fishing charter boat issues

Park Victoria are planning to impose a $2.50 charge per person for all commercial operators in Port Phillip Bay. It was suggested that an exemption to this rule should apply to members of the association. Another concern of the charter boats association is about where the responsibility lies if charter clients are found without RFLs by compliance officers. It was further suggested a blanket licence could be applied to charter operators and that fees be paid by operators based on the number of clients.

Devil Bend Reservoir

The forum was advised that Devil bend was fishing well with some sizable trout being caught.Fisheries Management team is meeting with Parks Victoria to discuss ongoing water access and weed issues.

The stocking of sister reservoir, 'Bittern' has been raised as a supported action from the 2014 Vic Fish Stock consultation meetings.

2/   Fisheries Victoria activity report:

The Victorian Fisheries Authority Executive Director - Ross McGowan presented The Victorian Fisheries Authority current activity report.

In summary:
  • The Victorian Fisheries Authority had moved to consolidate the timing for renewal of most Fisheries Notices to improve administrative efficiency.
  • Snobs Creek produced and stocked more than 660,000 salmonids released in 2014.
  • Native fish production was well underway at Snobs Creek with all the plankton ponds filled with Murray cod, trout cod and Macquarie perch.
  • A new Master Plan is being developed for the Snobs Creek site that will take into consideration business needs and current and future infrastructure requirements for increased production.
  • Estuary perch and Australian Bass liberations had started with 3 new urban water stocked with EPs: Melton Res. Werribee River and Karkarook Lake.
  • 109 infrastructure projects had been completed across the state by the team
  • Murray cod slot limits are now in effect following an extensive awareness campaign.

3/   Inland Fisheries Managers' Report:

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

a)   Wild Trout Management Plan (WTMP)

Taylor Hunt summarized the WTMP and the current status –

  • 100 fish have been acoustically tagged and released to track movements.
  • Stocking trials are underway with good reports of both stocked and unstocked fish being caught. There have also been mixed reports
  • There are 8 projects in the plan including surveys on 12 rivers are being undertaken.
  • Video and brochure communication is being produced.
  • Annual seminars are being planned.
  • It is a 2 year trial stocking commitment then the assessment of this will determine future for continued stocking.
  • Assessments through creels, angling club data, surveys, etc are underway. These findings will be discussed at the annual seminars.
  • Anthony Forster advised that interim results would be presented to the reference group.
b)   Angling Club Data base program

Taylor Hunt advised the forum of an extensive Angling Club data collection program being currently undertaken by The Victorian Fisheries Authority.

In summary -

  • FV are working with anglers to record performance of the fishery and their catch.
  • IT trial with catch records – scheduled to start soon.
  • Designed to record catches to help manage the fishery as well as info to how the fisher and club are performing.
  • Stage 1 is to involve 10-15 clubs across the State.
  • Eventually the program could involve non-club anglers.
c)   Stocking Highlights

Taylor Hunt reported the following -

  • 2.8 million fish were stocked in 2014.
  • Chinook public forum to be scheduled in 2015 – 3kg fish reported in Bullen Merri at present.
  • 107,000 estuary perch to be released in 2014/15.
  • 123,000 Australian bass released into 16 Gippsland waters.
  • A translocation application has been lodged to release Murray cod into Albert Park Lake.
  • 94 fish motel structures have been installed in 2 lakes; - 50 in Lake Boga,  - 44 in Kangaroo Lake.
  • Online, searchable stocking database is being developed.
  • Stocking assessments are being conducted to measure success of stocking.
d)    Environmental Flows

The forum was advised of the impacts of environmental flows and the importance and opportunity for The Victorian Fisheries Authority and anglers being part of an environmental flow program outlining the effectiveness on fish stocking.

Anthony Forster voiced the importance and opportunity for The Victorian Fisheries Authority and anglers being part of the environmental flow program.  He advised that Fisheries Victoria is actioning the following -

  • Works planned to investigate the relationship between environmental flows and success in stocking.
  • Developing an angler environmental reference group.                                      
  • Field trials with stocking around flows.

4/     Brian MottramManager, Recreational Fishing Improvements

Brian updated current Recreational fishing improvements projects and summary of achievements -

In Summary -

  • The Torquay offshore reef modules are 4m x 4m x 4m cubes.  Construction has finished and cubes are curing ready for deployment – mid January 2015.
  • Native fish production at Snobs Creek is progressing well -
  • Macquarie perch fry and Murray cod are in now the plankton ponds.
  • Trout cod will be harvested before Christmas.
  • Salmonid production for 2015 has been a successful on with good numbers in the hatchery.
  • Infrastructure improvements continue to be implemented across the state.
  • The new recreational fishing guide will be available mid-December. Associated rulers, website and app updates are also being completed.
  • The next round of RFL large grant applications close on 27 February 2015.

5/    Other Business

Roll of research in fisheries management:

Ross Winstanley questioned FV about the considered roll of research in Fisheries management.  He tabled the following concerns as background to his query - 

  • RFL trust has invested significant funds into fisheries research programs over the years however, research outcomes are not always taken on board raising questions about the value of this investment.
  • For example, the development of the Murray cod slot limit regulations were heavily informed by science recommending a 50-70cm slot limit. This was essentially over-ridden by other social and political considerations.
  • Another example is that science clearly shows the Port Phillip Bay is sustainable however, both political parties advocate for a commercial fishery buyout. This is equally relevant to the Gippsland lake fishery.
  • Other research issues include the stocking of prawns into Lake Tyers without a means of differentiating from wild stock.

Anthony Forster advised whilst science was an important fisheries management tool but it is only one of the many factors that inform policy making.

Ross indicated he will raise this matter with the Fisheries Advisory Council.

VRFish activity report:

Dallas D'Silva presented VRFish's activity update including a report on the VRFish attendance at the World Recreational Fishing Conference in Brazil.   

In Summary

  • A new economic study on recreational fishing in Victoria is underway with a draft report due end of the 1st quarter 2015.
  • VRFish board are attending the cod classic to survey fishers about the Murray cod fishery, then will resurvey them the following year to track any changes.
  • The VRFish snapper project is posted on the website.
  • Signage stopping bait pumping in Warneet and  angler access is now restored.
  • Thresher shark fishery issues are on the horizon that appear to be alike to the Mako fishery issues.  The National peak body is to deal with it but VRFish have put forward their position.

Dallas presented a positive report of the VRFish attendance at the World Recreational Fishing Conference in Brazil and a full report will be posted on the VRFish website.

Port Phillip Bay fishery performance:

It was suggested there was a need to better communicate research and the status of Port Phillip Bay fisheries as a number of recreational fishers are reporting a number of changes to the fishery.

Access and use of fence styles:

Don Ellis advised that a survey was being conducted to assess where there was a need for styles to access waterways over fences. A report will be presented once completed. People are encouraged to participate and advise Don of suggested areas.

Cancellation of the meeting in Gippsland regarding netting in the Gippsland lakes:

Concern was tabled about the cancellation of this meeting.  The forum was advised that the meeting was cancelled due to The Victorian Fisheries Authority had not yet had the opportunity to engage the new government on this issue.  It is envisaged this meeting will be rescheduled in the future. 

Development of length to weight rulers for Whiting

Russell Conway put forward a request for a length to weight whiting ruler to be developed. The forum was advised Murray cod ruler was developed due to the reliability of the relationship between length and weight, there was a lot of scientific data there to support the development.

Fiish Care advised interest in developing length / weight relationship for a number of key angling species and this could form part of an RFL bid.


6/       Fisheries Communications:                                                                                                             

Marc Ainsworth presented an update on the latest Fisheries communications activities.

In summary -

  • The 2014/15 Fishing Guide has now been published and distributed to outlets.
  • The Fisheries compliance uniform has been changed to blue in colour.
  • The Murray cod length and weight ruler has been updated identifying the new slot lengths.
  • A new freshwater ruler has been produced incorporating estuary perch.
  • A new saltwater ruler is to be produced shortly.

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #37.

Chairman:                   Merv McGuire                                                                                       Secretariat:                           David Ambrens

Summary Dated:              17/01/2015

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #38– Scheduled March 13th 2015