SRFR Meeting #39 - 5 June 2015

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #39

Forum date: Friday June 5 2014
Location: Fisheries Victoria, 8 Nicholson St., East Melbourne.

Chair's Summary

Key items discussed at the 39th Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum were:

  • Update of latest VRFish activities.
  • Update of 'Target One Million' recreational fishing program.
  • Update of freshwater fisheries management projects.
  • Explanation of coarse fishing and current activities in Victoria.
  • Proposed inland fishing alliance between Native Fish Australia (Vic) and the Australian Trout Foundation.
  • Clarification of the proposed scallop take changes.
  • Clarification of RFL responsibilities of Charter Boat operators.
  • The inclusion of metropolitan water stocking in the Target One Million stocking program.

Update of latest VRFish activities: Dallas D'Silva

  • Toolondo –updated on working group meetings and ongoing plans for the lake/fishery.
  • Geelong Star – VRFish has been involved in discussion with regard to the vessel and fishing practices and will continue to advocate on behalf of Victorian recreational fishers.
  • Ernst and Young 2014 economic survey – VR Fish were successful in receiving RFL funding to undertake a new survey on the economic contribution of recreational fishing in Victoria. The report is due soon but has been delayed due to the unavailability of the principle economist but expect results soon.
  • Trout cod fishery – A commitment by the Andrews government to open a trout cod recreational fishery near Beechworth is currently being planned. VRFish have forwarded a submission which his currently being reviewed by Fisheries Victoria.
  • Port Phillip Bay scallops – VRFish are not opposed to creating a commercial fishery but would prefer a greater level of consultation with recreational fishers.
  • Travis Dowling advised that Fisheries Victoria have set a TACC (Total Allowable Commercial Catch) of 146T which is a precautionary approach to a dynamic fishery.
  • Ross Winstanly advised of the high variability in scallop recruitment over time in Port Phillip Bay.
  • Point Lonsdale Marine Park - VRFish are currently investigating options to extend the fishable area surrounding the pier.

Update on Fisheries Victoria activities and delivery of Target One Million recreational fishing program          

Travis Dowling: Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria
Travis praised the developments in relationships between traditionally rival recreational fishing groups since the early 2000's and acknowledged that the Statewide Roundtable has played an instrumental role in this.

He highlighted continued political support for recreational fishing over successive governments and Victoria's place at the forefront of recreational fishing in Australia.

  • Statutory Authority – the establishment of Fisheries Victoria as a statutory authority will deliver greater opportunities for recreational fishers.  Planning is underway for the transfer of Fisheries Victoria into a statutory authority.
  • Statewide Roundtable forum continues to be a highly valued forum for discussion of recreational fishing issues and trends and opportunities.  Fisheries Victoria will continue to work closely with this group while also consulting more broadly with recreational fishers in other ways including the annual regional roundtable meetings.  The regional roundtable meeting will be held in the spring this year across several locations, more information to come on this shortly.
  • Port Phillip Bay commercial netting buyout - Craig Ingram will lead this component of the Target One Million program. He will also assist in the delivery of a number of other key components of the program.
  • Increasing stocking – boosting fish stocking from 3 to 5 million will begin immediately. Along with some other options and strategies,  some of our large freshwater impoundments have capacity for greater levels of stocking.  Consultation will be key to achieving the best outcome possible from this increase. This consultation will begin as part of the Vic Fish Stock meetings which will be held in August 2015.
  • Barramundi – on track with constructive dialogue between Hazelwood managers and Fisheries Victoria.
  • Marine stocking – Fisheries Victoria are working through a number of options which will then be used to consult with rec fishers.
  • Toolondo – Recognised the quality of the fishery but also reinforced the limitations the storage has with regards to water availability. Stocking will be conditional on water levels and water security.
  • Trout cod – On track, Anthony Forster will elaborate more in his freshwater update.
  • Blue Rock Lake – motor size and boat length restrictions will be removed shortly however speed restrictions will remain in place.
  • Banning netting at Gippsland river mouths – Craig Ingram will head up the Fisheries Victoria team to change commercial fishing arrangements at select river mouths.
  • Strengthening Fishing Clubs – Fisheries Victoria are still developing criteria and conditions to enable funding.  The grants will be available before the end of this year.
  • Angler Diary/Statewide recreational fishing survey – Fisheries are developing options.
  • Victorian trout opening festival – The trout festival is planned for Saturday 5th September 2015.  The event will include many free activities including tours of the Snobs Creek hatchery where native and salmonid fish are grown. The growth of this festival may include capacity to expand and include a number of other fisheries of festivals.
  • Better Fishing Facilities Fund – The improvement of recreational fishing access in Victoria is another important part of the Target One Million program.  Fisheries Victoria have a number of projects which are already being developed for funding but if anyone has an idea please email
  • Minimum size limits for trout – Fisheries Victoria are open to suggestions from recreational fishers.
  • Pursue reciprocal licensing (NSW/VIC) – Minister Pulford has written to her NSW counterpart and is awaiting response on the adoption of a dual license. There will be no increase to the recreational fishing license during the current governments' term.

Travis introduced Jarrod Dobson, deputy chief of staff and Fisheries Advisor from Minister Jaala Pulford's office.

  • Jarrod Dobson explained the challenges and opportunities associated with the Target One Million program.
  • Merv McGuire enquired where would the one million fishers come from in the pursuit of the Target One Million, how will it be achieved? Access and boat ramps are large issues which need to be resolved.
  • Travis Dowling advised no specific area of the Target One Million program all aspects and types will be grown. He recognised access issues and asked Roundtable members to provide practical solutions through Roundtable forums.
  • Merv McGuire suggested government should encourage and market a specific time of the year dedicated to fishing as has previously been successfully undertaken by the Futurefish Foundation. Dallas D'Silva advised VRFish were also looking at this option eg a 'fishing week'. There was strong support for such action.

Inland Fisheries Managers' Report

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

Koi Herpes virus

Anthony Forster provided handout relating to Koi Herpes virus introduction and key contact (Matt Barwick NSW Fisheries).

Tim Curmie raised concerns with application of virus in cool waters and the constraints it may have in Victorian waters.

Anthony explained that research is still underway but promising results so far.

Wild trout fishery management program update

In response to anglers concern about trout fishing in the summer of 2013-14, four north east trout streams were surveyed in February 2014.

The results were discussed at a public forum and with a reference group of trout fishers.

This consultation led to a successful RFL grant project called the "Wild Trout Fisheries Management Program". 

The three-year program is a collection of eight projects that aim to better understand and improve wild trout fisheries.

A second trout reference group meeting was held at Snobs Creek on 4 May 2015 where preliminary results were presented.

Some of the key findings to date include:

  • Twelve priority trout rivers surveyed to date are:
    • Upper Goulburn River
    • Aire River
    • Howqua River
    • Dargo River
    • King River
    • Nariel Creek
    • Ovens River
    • Upper Mitta Mitta River
    • Kiewa River
    • Upper Yarra River
    • Jamieson River
    • Toorongo River
  • Some evidence of Delatite river trout moving upstream in response to hot weather
  • Daily stream temperature varied as much as 10 degrees in summer.
  • The date for the Trout Conference ("Talking Trout 2015") is Saturday 21 November
  • The Shire of Mansfield will be making a financial contribution to the conference.
  • The venue will be the Performing Arts Centre in Mansfield (seats ~ 220 people)
  • Flyers and registration out in June 2015.
  • A Fly Fishing Film festival will be attached to the Conference
  • Key Note speaker may be from Trout Unlimited (USA)

For more information visit the Wild trout fisheries management program page.

Hazelwood barramundi update

Through 'Target One Million', the State Government committed to stocking 15,000 barramundi into the Hazelwood Pondage to create a barramundi recreational fishery.

The keys steps include:

  • Establish a working group (refer membership) to identify and work through the issues prior to the commencement of stocking (first meeting held on 21 May 2015).
  • Current membership of Hazelwood barramundi project working group

Key issues discussed to date include:

  • Understanding water quality
  • Protecting GDF Suez assets
  • Managing water use conflict
  • Managing rec fishing participation levels
  • Ensuring adequate boating and land-based access

Ron Lewis enquired about barramundi virus and incidence of heavy metals.

Anthony Forster explained that disease risk is unlikely and can be managed and that monitoring will take place before stocking regarding the heavy metals.

Metropolitan small waters stocking update

A working group comprising; Fisheries Victoria, Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria, Fisheries Victoria and Native Fish Australia has identified and is investigating a list of potential waters that could be enhanced through fish stocking. From an initial long list of more than 70 waters, a short list of the waters to actively follow up on has been established.

Estuary perch update

  • Stocked Estuary Perch Come of Age
  • Since 2012, Fisheries Victoria has stocked more than 220,000 estuary perch fingerlings in ten waters across South West Victoria including; Lakes Hamilton, Beaufort, Struan, Albert Park, Bolac, Devilbend Reservoir, Pertobe, Werribee River, Lake Karkarook and Melton Reservoir.
  • In May 2015, six of these lakes were surveyed with the help of Deakin University and a commercial eel fyke net fisher. The results show good representation from each year class of stocked fish with some fish reaching 29 cm in length (Lake Bolac) and weighing around 500 grams. These are promising growth rates and given the longevity of estuary perch (up to 40 years), we could see some real trophy fish come out of these waters in future years.
  • Read more about the creation of new inland estuary perch fisheries.

Murray cod monitoring/research programs update

  • During March 2015, Fisheries Victoria held two Murray cod fishing events at which anglers assisted in the capture and tagging of Murray cod to support a national project "Building a Stronger, more Resilient and Sustainable Murray cod Fishery", which is funded by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and state fisheries agencies across the Murray-Darling Basin. This is an innovative project that will allow researchers to better monitor Murray cod populations over time by using Murray cod catch information collected by both recreational anglers and electrofishing surveys.
  • The two angling events occurred on the Goulburn and Ovens Rivers.  Teams of anglers fished over two days at each event.  These fishing events are part of a series of six fishing events held across the Murray - Darling Basin annually for the next three years. Murray cod that were caught were measured, tagged for identification purposes and released.
  • Fisheries Victoria appreciate the overwhelming support of the 25 anglers that took part in the events.  

Course Fishing in Victoria

Presentation: Explanation of coarse fishing and current activities in Victoria.

Bob Dimmack and Brian Emmett - Confederation of Coarse Anglers.

  • Brian Emmett provided an explanation of coarse fishing and the constraints it faces owing to existing regulations.
  • General discussion and questions relating to technical aspects of sport and issues when competing in Victoria.
  • General discussion about the benefits in attracting junior anglers given carps abundance and catchability.
  • Brian Emmett provided explanation of equipment and techniques.
  • Dallas D'Silva advised that currently VRFish do not support coarse fishing but would be prepared to discuss at next VRFish general meeting.
  • Travis Dowling commended presenters' passion and congratulated on their presentation. Advised that Fisheries Victoria would be willing to work with coarse anglers to enable competitions to be held.
  • Anthony Forster advised that freshwater fisheries division will begin working with coarse fishers to enable competitions and assist in educating the community regarding coarse fishing.
  • Fern Hames provided information about targeted carp removal on the Ovens River and the possible future expansion.

Other Business – Roundtable discussions

Tim Curmi updated Native Fish Australia (Vic) activities.

Tim announced that Australian Trout Foundation (ATF) and Native Fish Australia (NFA)are intending to begin an alliance to provide advice and a coordinated approach to freshwater fishers.

NFA has continued working with key organisations on the development of Macquarie perch fisheries management options.  Anthony Forster advised that Fisheries Victoria will further investigate together with NFA.

NFA supports the introduction of trout cod fishery with some conditions.

Clarification of the proposed scallop take changes

Travis Dowling provided overview of current status of PPB scallop fishery and Fisheries Victoria's desire to initially adopt a precautionary approach to the fishery.

Clarification of RFL responsibilities of Charter boat operators

Brian Mottram provided information regarding the current requirements for Charter boat operators and customers who are required to carry a valid recreational fishing license.

Illegal wood cutting on the Delatite River

Don Ellis advised there has been reported illegal wood cutting on the Delatite River. Fisheries advised they would investigate with Parks Victoria or DEWLP and advise.

Access denial of the Mitta Mitta River

Don reported on the denial of access for Mitta Mitta River at select locations? Back road near cemetery…. Fisheries advised will investigate restricted access with DEWLP and NECMA.

Development of new marine research unit

Ross Winstanley advised of the development of a new marine research unit. Early stages at present and that more information will be presented at the next Roundtable.

Water from the Wonthaggi desalination plant

There was general inquiry about the availability of water generated from the Wonthaggi desalination plant to enhance fisheries.

Travis Dowling advised of the constraints of producing and transporting water from the desalination plant for recreational purposes and given the logistics and costs associated it was unlikely.

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #39.
Chairman: Merv McGuire                                                                                      
Secretariat: Duncan Hill
Summary Dated: 20/07/2015

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #40– Scheduled September 11 2015