Chairman's Summary #42

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #42

Forum date: Friday March18th 2016
Location: Mercure Hotel , 13 Nicolson St., East Melbourne.

Chair's Summary

Key discussion items from State-wide Roundtable meeting #42

  • Overview of recreational fishing communications – Fisheries Vic and VRFish.
  • Update of the development of the Victorian 'Fisheries Statutory Authority'.
  • Update of the 'Recreational Fishing Improvements' program projects.
  • Update on the commercial netters buyouts in Victorian bays and estuaries.
  • VRFish report on emerging issues, challenges and opportunities.
  • Update on the status of the release of the Koi Herpes Virus in Australia.
  • Presentation of the Vic Govt 2015-18 Boating Safety Plan.
  • Freshwater Fisheries update.
  • Australian Trout Foundation and Native Fish Australia activity update.
  • Current management activity The Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Overview of recreational fishing communications - Fisheries Vic and VRFish Marc Ainsworth,  Fisheries VIC /   Dallas D'Silva, VRFish

  • Is VRFish and Fisheries Vic communicating effectively with Fishing Clubs/ Associations?
  • Is the effectiveness being monitored, measured and recorded?
  • How can it be improved? How do we increase the 'communication reach'      given expectations of the 'Target 1 million' program?
  • Are there enough resources being supplied – both financial and manpower?
  • How will recreational fishing communications deliver the expectations under the "Victorian Fisheries Authority"?

Marc Ainsworth presented on which communication tools and strategies Fisheries utilise to connect with the various demographics involved in recreational  fishing.

Marc Ainsworth explained the benefits of using social media as a communication tool and its ability to target specific demographics and provide statistics to show the effectiveness of communication strategies.

Discussion about effectiveness of FV engagement with a target audience. Is there a target audience or demographic? Marc Ainsworth advised that recreational fishing was represented across all demographics and that there wasn't one specific group targeted for all communications.

General discussion regarding the relevance of the printed recreational fishing guide. Many agencies are moving away from the traditional printed hard copy versions to digital platforms and options which reflects public demand and popularity and availability of digital devices.

What will be the ongoing focus for FV with regards to communication? Marc Ainsworth explained to the roundtable group that digital communication (photos and short films) will continue and potentially grow as a key communication method.  Fisheries will also continue to use other traditional methods where they are deemed valuable and cost effective

Dalllas D'Silva presented VRFish's strategies for engagement and communication and also advised that VRFish also use a variety of tools to engage with rec fishers. A major radio presence is being worked on. VRFish now has limited access to the RFL database which will greatly improve its ability to consult and communicate with that group of recreational anglers.

Sally Fensling - Acting ED, Regulation & Enforcement, DEDJTR

Update on the progress of the development of the 'Victorian Fisheries Authority' including presentation of 'progress maps' and the time-line skeleton.

Sally presented an informative update on the progress of the establishment of the VFA and addressed the following questions/observations.

Could a change of government stop or reverse the process towards the establishment of VFA? Sally Fensling advised that while possible it would be highly unlikely.

What will be retained within the department and what will come across? Sally Fensling advised that  some functions will remain in the Department but what aspects are  still being assessed.

There has been stakeholder concern at the level of funding available to the new authority and ongoing funding, how will functions such as enforcement be funded? Sally Fensling advised that existing budgetary arrangements will move across with the functions so the existing enforcement budget would be retained and transferred.

What will the stakeholder engagement through the development of the Statutory Authority look like? – Sally Fensling advised that the exact engagement plan is still being finalised but stakeholder consultation has begun and will continue all the way through until the Bill has been passed and the authority established.

Brian Mottram - Manager, Rec. Fishing Improvements  

Update of current Fisheries Recreational Fishing Improvements program and projects currently under execution plus future proposed projects.

Five larger regional recreational fishing forums are scheduled to be held throughout the year with each forum will be focused on specific species and fishing types.  Three of these are planned for Spring 2016 (Murray Cod, Snapper and trout) and two further events (Bream and Tuna) at other times of the year which are still to be decided. The Victorian Fisheries Authority will continue to be available for attendance at angling meetings and discuss current activities and take questions from clubs and their members (similar to current roundtable meetings).

Angling Clubs grants program (Target One Million) – Program will be announced by the end of March. Designed to build participation and build membership throughout recreational fishing clubs.

Better Fishing Facilities – 35 projects funded and either completed or underway with a combined value in excess of $2 million.

Fish stocking – challenging given the limited availability of suitable water as the drought continues however native fish stocking for 2015-16 is drawing to a close and preparations are underway for the start of the salmonid breeding and liberation season.

FishCare Update  - Following the departure of Dave Cleeland  the position of Statewide coordinator has been advertised. 82 applications were received for the coordinator role and interviews will be held by the end of March.

Craig Ingram - Coordinator 'Target One Million' DEDJTR           

Update on the progress of the consultations with commercial netters operating in the estuary mouths of the Gippsland Lake and also the buyout of commercial netters in Port Phillip Bay.

Commercial buyout of PPB

Nominations to exit the fishery by 01 April 2016 or remain post 2022 have been completed. 33 of the 43 licence holders have decided to surrender their licence and exit the fishery on 1 April 2016.  Eight licence holders have nominated to remain in the non-net fishery post 2022.  2 licence holders have decided to make no decision at this stage. 

Regulations to implement catch limits on remaining fishers are being finalised and will come into operation on 1 April 2016. 

Gippsland river mouths netting ban

Minster Pulford officially launched the start of public consultation to address commercial netting at Gippsland Lakes river mouths on Wednesday 17 February 2016 which will not include a licence buy-out.     Meetings with licence holders are scheduled in the weeks commencing 21 March. A number of submissions have been received on the consultation process.  The public consultation period will run from 17 February through to 15 April 2016 and will be coordinated by Craig Ingram who will deliver a report with outcomes and recommendations by 26 August 2016.

Expanding the angler diary program

Developed approach for program expansion including:

  • increasing angler participation
  • improving coverage of key species/fisheries
  • improving data on stock status to support improved fisheries management decision making
  • facilitating improved engagement with recreational fishing stakeholders
  • fostering greater stewardship amongst anglers.

Held face to face consultation meetings with Angler Diarists at Lake Tyers on 6 January, Hastings on 13 January, and Warrnambool on 20 January 2016.

Survey Monkey questionnaire sent to all 298 diarists - 90 responses (30%) were received.

Completed consultation with diarists, scientists and fishery managers.

Application for one year's holding funding submitted to RFL.

Dallas D'Silva - General Manager, VRFish             

VRFish report on emerging recreational fishing issues, challenges and opportunities.

Dallas advised FRDC funded project 'Young future leader conference' to be  held in Port Fairy during  winter. Training up the next generation of leaders.

Productivity Commission review currently underway regarding marine fisheries, which VRFish will be providing a submission.

VRFish 5 year strategic plan currently close to being complete with assistance from Bruce Kefford – Provide a plan on what VRFish delivers and the sector expects of a peak body.

RW question- Do you see the strategic pan providing guidance in RFL investment? (DD) Probably not addressed at that level of detail but that would be a valuable project which VRFish could assist in delivering in the future.

Planning underway to assist in the delivery of the FV led Murray cod conference (enhanced regional roundtable meeting), anticipated to be held sometime immediately prior to Murray cod opening in northern Victoria.

General discussion about the operation of VRFish and any changes to the structure. DD advised that interviews to fill the role vacated by Michelle Wenner (maternity leave) were underway with a replacement expected by the end of April.

Matt Barwick - Senior Fisheries Manager – Fisheries NSW

Update on the status of the Federal Govt carp control/management research and practice, particularly with respect to the KHV (Koi Herpes Virus)

 Matt presented a comprehensive presentation on the current status of the Koi Herpes virus and addressees the following questions/enquiries.

What is the position of the Victorian government and other state governments to the KHV (Koi Herpes Virus)? Matt advised that there appeared to be widespread support. Jarrod Lyon advised that DEWLP will be creating a Victorian state-wide position to manage Victoria's participation.

Do carp control other invasive species such as redfin and what will the impact be on them? Matt Barwick advised that carp do have some impact on populations of other invasive such as oriental weatherloach and redfin and that other pest management controls will need to be used in conjunction with the virus including management options to promote and encourage the reestablishment of native species.

Is the virus more or less effective at certain temperatures? Matt Barwick advised that the virus may not kill the fish at certain temperatures but that they would become carriers and when conditions returned to optimum the virus would then become effective to all infected.

How quickly does the virus spread and kill? Matt Barwick advised that all evidence to date shows that when conditions are right the outbreaks are significant and have a dramatic impact on population numbers. In many cases 2 weeks is enough to spread extensively across a large range and can kill effectively in 1 week.

What is the most effective release mechanism? Matt Barwick advised that the best method is to introduce infected fish into a population during spawning events to maximise the spread and effectiveness.

Once federal approval is obtained what happens if not all the states and territories sign on? Matt Barwick advised that in the event that this happened it would be difficult to contain the virus but it is highly unlikely that the states and territories wouldn't all join together.

What scope is there to release the virus into isolated areas to test the virus' effectiveness? Matt advised that the CRC working group likely to be tasked with the management of the release would consider all past releases of biological controls mechanisms (calicivirus) when designing the release methodology.

Will the treatment and re-release need to be ongoing? Matt Barwick advised that the proposed program would likely start with release to immediately impact adult population with future re-releases targeting juveniles in the months and years to follow.

Lisa Taylor - Manager, Recreational Boating Safety, Victoria            

Overview of the Vic Govt 2015-18 Boating Safety Action Plan.

Lisa Taylor presented an overall summary of the  2015-18 Vic Govt Boating Safety Plan. Lisa advised of the recent regulation change relating to requirement to wear lifejackets at PPB entrance and the process for implementation. General consensus that the process wasn't run very well and resulted in widespread confusion amongst recreational fishers.

Lisa Taylor advised that the Coroner made a recommendation following a recent fatality and this resulted in almost immediate changes in regulations. While this was not an ideal process for introduction of new regulations in this case it was necessary.

Dallas D'Silva requested that there should be on-going consultation and education regarding the new regulations.  Lisa acknowledged.

Anthony Forster - Manager, Freshwater Fisheries - FV

Update and distribution of Inland Fisheries activity report.

Distributed the latest edition of the freshwater newsletter which will be electronically distributed to all attending and non-attending members for their further distribution.

Enquiry regarding the operation to salvage fish from Rice's Weir. Anthony Forster advised that FV together with DEWLP has worked hard to recover and relocate fish.

Question relating to access at the Upper Stoney Weir access – Anthony Forster advised that FV are working with Barwon Water to enable public access and instigate a new stocking program to reestablish the reservoir as a recreational fishery.

Terry George, President ATF & Tim Cumi, President  NFA

Terry and Tim updated the meeting on the establishment and proposed activities of the "Victorian Inland Fisheries Alliance" and other inland fisheries matters.

Tim and Terry advised that NFA and ATF have created a new organisation named the Victorian Inland Fisheries Alliance (VIFA) work on projects to improve habitat, fish stocking strategies and provide a united front for all native and trout fishers.

Habitat and riparian restoration will become a focus of the ATF moving forwards. This based on outcomes of the 2015 trout conference.

NFA have requested that the stream classification process needs to be revisited. Successful blackfish breeding program currently underway in SW Vic.

NFA looking to re-start its Macquarie perch breeding program.

Concern at the apparent lack of movement and progress with trout cod reestablishment program.

Recently held native challenge and were surprised at the low numbers of silver perch caught.

Mark Edwards - Acting Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria

Mark presented Fisheries update of current matters and management activities. Most enquiries came from the proposed fishing license increase.

 i) How is the Department proceeding with proposed RFL price increases after the government statements about not raising fees and levies for election commitments?

Reply- Mark advised that in the light of support from key recreational stakeholder groups, and the way the revenue is used entirely to improve recreational fishing, the government had decided it was appropriate to proceed with proposals for RFL price changes.  The election commitment was for $20m, however, $27m will now be provided which is above and beyond the commitment. 

ii) Is the Department considering reform to the wider recreational licensing system as well as just RFL licensing prices?

Reply - Mark advised that administrative costs and processes are reviewed.  However, the most obvious efficiencies will come from increasing the proportion of licences sold online.  Most of the administrative costs are associated with servicing agency sales.  Consideration had been given to the current exemptions, and the Department was well aware that some groups favour a review of current exemptions.  However, at this time, this was assessed to be "a bridge too far" given the desire to see change broadly accepted by the recreational fishing community.  We will look with interest on views offered on this matter in submissions.

iii)  Will the increased funding from the RFL fee increase be used to further "cost shift" to the departmental or deliver on election commitments?

Reply -While it is acknowledged that in recent years some activity previously funded within the departmental allocation is funded by RFL funds, these activities have all been ones that deliver significant value to recreational fishers, such as stocking, and has occurred with the support of the RFL Working Group made up of recreational fishers.  The RIS sets out a range of initiatives for which the increased revenue could be used based on future decisions, including more fish stocking, improved infrastructure, and contributing to the buyout of commercial fishing licences. 

iv)  Will there be any change to the current process to disburse revenue from RFL funds? Discussions have suggested a more strategic approach to the use of funds.

Reply -No, there are no changes planned to the current process - the RFL Grants Working Group will remain the advisory body to the Minister on disbursement and the current transparency will be retained through mechanisms including the annual report to Parliament.  While noting the value of thinking forward about use of funds, there are a range of mechanisms the Department uses to assess what the aspirations of recreational fishers are - including this Roundtable forum, the series of regional meetings the department convenes around the State annually and periodic surveys of recreational fishers.

v)  Will this increased funding be used to support the establishment of the VFA ?

Reply -No, the funds will not be used for this purpose.  Note that the current contribution of RFL funds to recreational related services such as compliance is envisaged to continue.

vi) How will the VFA  and the Department engage with recreational fishers - will the Roundtable continue?

Reply -The specific engagement mechanisms to be used by the VFA have not been determined yet - that will be a matter for the Board and CEO to consider.  However, given the considerable value provided by the current engagement through the Roundtable, it would seem useful to continue.

Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable #42
Chairman: Merv McGuire
Secretariat: Duncan Hill
Summary Dated: 01/04/016

Next Statewide Recreational Fishing Roundtable Forum #43 - Scheduled June 1 2016