SRFR Meeting #38 - 13 March 2015

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #38

Forum date: Friday March 13th 2105

Location:    Fisheries Victoria                                                                                                    

                  Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources

                  8 Nicholson St., East Melbourne, 3002

Chairman's Summary

Key items discussed at the 38th Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum were as follows -

1/    Update of Fisheries activities

Mark Edwards  - Acting Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria.   

Reported the following -                                                

i/   Compliance Overview

Operation Sonic (Venus Bay pipis)

-       High level of compliance

Operations Raptor (Port Phillip Bay and Western Port snapper fishing)

-       High level of compliance

Intertidal zone compliance Operation

-       Average compliance

Operation Quantum (Abalone trafficking)

-       Highly successful operation targeting abalone trafficking in metropolitan Melbourne

Coarse fishing

-       Victorian coarse angling competition recently moved interstate due to issues with releasing or holding noxious aquatic species in Victorian waters.

ii/  Aquaculture

Fisheries are working on improved marking of aquaculture zones and introducing speed limits within the zones to avoid dangerous interactions between recreational boaters and aquaculture equipment and infrastructure. There will be consultation with the recreational fishing sector regarding this.

iii/     Commercial Fishing

Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) setting is underway for ocean scallop fishery, southern rock lobster and abalone.

Protected species – From 01 April all commercial fishing sectors will have a statutory requirement to report interactions with protected species.

 iv/    Science Projects Update (Summary of current key projects was provided as listed below)

Defining the spawning needs of calamari in Port Phillip Bay.

King George Whiting stock structure.

Port Phillip Bay shellfish restoration reefs.

FRDC/FV western snapper stocks biomass modelling.

v/     Management Plan guidelines

Fisheries Advisory Council have provided input into guidelines to support the development and implementation of Fisheries Management Plans (FMP) across the business. There will shortly be wider consultation on these guidelines.

vi/    Cost recovery – Commercial Fishing & Aquaculture

Currently in second year of a phased implementation with an increasing percentage of costs being paid by industry. Focus on achieving greater efficiencies with regards to provision of fisheries management, science and compliance services through ongoing discussions with industry.

 Allison Webb - Director, Fisheries Management and Science

  • Described her experience in Fisheries Management, domestically in Canada but also internationally including her work with commercial, recreational and aquaculture sectors.
  • Provided background on the size and nature of the Canadian fisheries agency.
  • Provided information regarding the requirements and exemptions for recreational fishing licenses.
  • Included an update of what she has become involved with and what issues are currently being handled.

Anthony ForsterFreshwater Fisheries Manager

Updated on the following –

  • Murray cod reference site monitoring
  • Wild trout management plan
  • Recreating world class fisheries at Purrumbete and Bullen Merri
  • Fish stocking evaluation
  • Planning for potential opening trout cod fisheries at Sambell and Kerford
  • Toolondo Reservoir Recreational Fishing Advisory Group

Brian Motram – Recreational  Fishing Improvements Manager


Updated on the following         

  • Devilbend access and facilities update/opportunities
  • Toolondo access facilities update
  • Bemm River access improvements
  • Fish production and stocking update
  • Snobs Creek Advisory Board
  • Recent infrastructure upgrades and developments at Snobs Creek
  • Snobs Creek facility's ability to be better utilised for education and promotion.
  • Fisheries Victoria communications products

2/       Victorian Government Recreational Fishing Policy


The Right Honourable Jaala Pulford, Minister for Agriculture &  Regional Development (including Fisheries),  addressed the forum advising the following…

  • Highlighted the importance of recreational fishing and the associated social and economic benefits.
  • Reiterated the government's priority to deliver on its election commitments within the Fisheries portfolio as soon as possible.
  • Recognised that while banning netting in the bay was a difficult issue to implement, but this is a commitment which will be delivered by the Andrews Government in a timely and respectful manner.
  • Expect to see budget announcement in May which will enable Fisheries Victoria/government to start implementing actions to deliver election commitments.
  • Discussions are well underway with Hazelwood Power Station management to enable stocking with barramundi.
  • Planning for Fisheries Victoria transition to a statutory authority is currently underway. Significant legislative change will be required and existing Game Victoria model forms a useful precedent. Expects that Fisheries statutory authority will be established  by the end of 2016.
  • Grants to fishing clubs and associations will be targeted at increasing participation in fishing to partner with existing community organisation to achieve this.
  • Expects that grants will encourage participation rather than focus entirely on membership.
  • Highlighted perceived lack of diversity amongst rec fishing community and would encourage greater diversity with regards to age, gender, ethnic diversity, etc. For example, highlighted the roundtable membership.

Travis Dowling - Executive Director to the Secretary, Department of

 Environment, Land, Water & Planning.

       Travis expanded on the Labour Government's commitment to recreational fishing, i.e.,

  • The Government's election commitments included the following $35 million breakdown of funding, meaning
  • $5 million towards fish stocking and education
  • $10 million to improve recreational fishing access and facilities
  • $20 million for commercial buy-outs to ban netting in Port Phillip Bay
  • The new government had committed not to increase the price of licences so the cost will remain the same for the next 4 years.
  • A joint licence with NSW will be explored.
  • 1 and 3 year licenses purchased online will be issued on plastic cards instead of the existing paper.
  • There was short discussion about licensing re: charter vessels. There is not an intention to explore this urgently. There are advantages to having recreational fishers licensed and contactable individually. Online license sales by smart phone allow fishers to purchase licenses on the spot.
  • Acknowledged that RFL funds are now contributing more to fish stocking.
  • Toolondo: Government will maintain the fishery in the short term but if recent weather patterns continue then Toolondo along with other popular western Victorian lakes are likely to suffer from dry conditions.
  • Blue Rock speed restrictions: Consultation has been delayed but will commence shortly and expect most restrictions to be removed following the completion of this consultation.
  • Hazelwood Pondage: Consultation still underway but confident that barramundi could be stocked by end of 2015.
  • Stocking from 3 million to 5 million: Will happen so members are encouraged to begin thinking about suitable waters for increased stocking.
  • Statutory Authority: will be implemented but significant work is required to rewrite legislation etc before this can be implemented.  An estimated timeline is 12-18 months example, highlighted the roundtable membership.

3/       Update of inland Fisheries Research Activities

            a/     Tim Curmie - President , Native Fish Victoria.

Tim precented a proposal to protect Trout Cod and Macquarie Perch populations through seasonal waterway closure.   

            b/    Jarod Lyon -   Principal Research Scientist,  ARI

Update: ARI provided an overview of their relevant research activities, highlighting work on bream tracking in Gippsland Rivers.

  4/   Roundtable Discussions

  • Merv McGuire : requested an update on carp virus

            Anthony Forster:advised virus had been tested on native species and alternate models     for its release are being tested.

  • Government's marine/estuarine stocking commitment

Conditional on funding

FV will review past and interstate experiences

Need to identify preferred locations and potential species

  • Ross Winstanley: Expects that the necessary planning and preparation is undertaken by the government to ensure that time and money are not wasted. Also requested that appropriate evaluation is undertaken to monitor effectiveness.
  • Murray cod slot limits feedback:

            FV regional compliance officers reported overwhelming support for new slot limits

            General discussion about ongoing application of slot limits for impoundments

            Tim Curmie expressed the NFA's support for the new slot limits.

  • Best practice handling techniques for Murray cod:

            Rod Barford best practice Murray cod handling techniques should be extended to all species. FV agreed to explore fish handling protocols for multiple species further.

  • NE trout reports – Anthony Forster:

            As part of the larger Wild trout management program FV are gathering information on fish movement, fish abundance and fishing activity in the NE.  Early results are expected in April regarding fish tracking.

  • Offshore reef update – Brian Mottram:

            This project will deliver the largest artificial reef structure ever to be installed in Victorian waters.

            25 large concrete (4m x 4m and 20 tonnes each) offshore reef modules have been built by Bates Pipes Geelong and will be installed 3km out between Breamlea & Torquay.

            The custom-made reef modules are designed to create variable water currents and  movements that attract baitfish and predators such as kingfish.

            As soon as weather conditions make it safe to do so, the modules will be transported  from the Port of Geelong, through Port Phillip Heads and then installed in 25 metres of  water off Torquay.

  • Ric Fallu: ongoing discussion with FV regarding proposed exemptions for spearfishers to enable them to target carp in freshwater
  • Ron Lewis: requested FV to provide reports on TEP outcomes/meetings. FV will action TEP outcomes on their website.
  • There was general discussion relating to urban waters stocking from all roundtable members. FV to provide new urban waters stocking update at the next meeting.
  • Don Ellis: inquired what access improvements are there for surf beaches? : FV to obtain list of locations from Don Ellis and begin working with land managers for improvements.

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #38.

Chairman:                   Merv McGuire                                                                                       Secretariat:                           Duncan Hill

Summary Dated:              10/04/2015

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #39– Scheduled June 5th 2015