Chairperson's Summary #61

10:00  am MEETING OPEN -  Julia MenziesRoundtable Chairman

Welcome and apologies.

Previous Roundtable actions/ Follow up.


The Terms of Reference for the RFL Review Working Group to be circulated to the members of the SRFR



Dallas to follow up with Rob Loats on the provision of information that can be extracted from that Ernst & Young report to assist Rob with social and economic values of recreational fishing advocacy.



Joel to provide the details of the Communications presentation to be circulated to the SRFR members.


NEW ACTIONS – Arising from Meeting #61 –27th Nov 2020


No new actions


Minutes from Meeting #61 accepted.

Mike Burgess acknowledged the passing of Merv McGuire, former Chair of SRFR and Executive member of VRFish and Future Fish.

TRC Tourism – Chris Rose, Chris Ord and Chris Padovani

As an election commitment TRC Tourism has a joint brief from Visit Victoria and the VFA to deliver a Recreational Fishing Tourism Strategy. The aim is to improve tourism outcomes from fishing in Victoria. Work is underway to identify the infrastructure gaps for the development of fishing and tourism experiences in Victoria, (experience driven tourism is where fishing will go), analyse the fishing markets and determine their preferences, connect fishing information with regional Tourism Boards, encourage collaboration in the fishing sector, identifying new products, communications, and growing fishing in Victoria.

Five market strategies have been developed:

  • The novice fisher
  • The casual fisher
  • The recreational fisher
  • The sports fishers
  • The high value fisher

The aim is to sell the diverse and outstanding range of fishing opportunities throughout Victoria.

This work will form a statewide strategy to be implemented by the VFA and Visit Victoria.

VFA Update - Travis Dowling

People are now getting back out fishing and the fishing reports are wonderful. Each Friday the VFA is putting out a Pelicans Pick showing where the fish are biting.

It has been pleasing to get the Crown Land camping legislation through. Travis Dowling congratulated Rob Loats, Mike Burgess and Ben Scullin on the work that they did to bring about the successful Crown Land legislation in Parliament. There is still a lot of work to be done with the utilization of public land.

The Talk Wild Trout conference was incredibly successful. There is a lot of optimism in the fishing community. There is a whole suite of events lined up for 2021. Cod Conference will possibly be in March as a face-to-face conference in Shepparton, along with many other events planned to be rolled out as a covid-normal year to enable us to connect with people face to face once more.

Our Comms team have been very important through a really challenging time as a result of covid. We are coming out of that now and will proceed with positive and engaging media.

We are looking at a change to legislation to allow under 18s to catch and sell yabbies for bait to increase the availability of bait supply.  This will soon be put out for consultation by the VFA through a fisheries notice or other regulatory changes. Terry George commended the concept of allowing kids to sell bait and earn pocket money.

There is a lot happening with recreational reefs, including 3 new reefs in Port Phillip Bay. Well done to Chris Padovani, VRFish and Futurefish for helping to shape delivery of this commitment.

Golden Tag –– Craig Ingram VFA

The Golden Tag competition was re-launched on the 13th November. It has been expanded with 20 specific $10,000 tags in the bushfire areas of East Gippsland and North East Victoria. There are also tagged $2000 trout in Western District lakes, and in the Goulburn downstream of Eildon, Murray cod in Eildon, and around Mildura, Swan Hill and Nagambie. There will be tagged natives in a number of systems across Victoria. So far there has been one $10,000 winner and several $2000 winners. Recaptures have been widespread. There will also be some tagged southern bluefin tuna in western Victoria in Dec-Jan.

Golden Tag has been extended to the end of 2021 to provide more opportunity to catch the tagged fish.

The aim is to promote tourism and economic development in the regions. It is a real opportunity to generate some excitement in regional Victoria.

Rob Loats asked about tagged fish in the Wimmera River. Although not planned, Travis advised that a limited number of additional fish would be tagged and released there. Craig Ingram will lead this work.

Policy and Licensing – Dallas D’Silva VFA

Spider Crabs

The consultation on a Fisheries Notice on spider crabs in Port Phillip Bay recently closed. A community group campaign has been run to attempt to stop fishing for spider crab in PPB. There have been a lot of responses to the proposed reduction of their catch limit. The final submissions are being reviewed to be follow up with a recommendation to the Minister.   VRFish did an excellent submission on this matter.

Corner Inlet

Corner Inlet is currently the subject of a lot of work via the management plan which is under development. The steering committee has had one meeting to date with commercial fishers talking about future management of the fishery. Input from David Kramer and Mike Burgess has been invaluable to date.

Marsden Jacobs Review

From the Marsden Jacobs Review there are some point to note. The Strategic Plan is progressing well, to identify the strategic direction for the VFA. Several members of the SRFR are involved with this.

The VRFish Review is also progressing. So far 5 meetings have been held with a lot of work done. There were nearly 3000 responses to the survey that was issued for this review. There is a commitment to finalise the review and provide recommendations to the Minister by the end of the year.

Gippsland Lakes Recovery Plan

The Gippsland Lakes Recovery Plan is under development. Craig Ingram has been involved in the process, especially via fish stocking. Michelle Wenner has recently joined to assist in delivery of this commitment, including involvement with fisheries management and stakeholder engagement. Over 4,300 responses were received to public consultation on the Gippsland Lakes Recovery Draft Plan. The Brief is being finalised to go to the Minister. A slot limit is being recommended for black bream in the Gippsland Lakes of 28-40cm. We need to make sure that the Lakes have time to respond to the significant change with more than 100 years of commercial net fishing now removed.

Craig Ingram advised that the dusky flathead stocking is progressing. The VFA has gone out to market to some private hatcheries for breeding and is going through the selection process. There will be a collection of broodfish early in the new year, aiming for the release of juvenile dusky flathead in March-April 2021.

Freshwater Fisheries – Michelle Wenner VFA

Talk Wild Trout was a wonderful collaborative piece of work and it is recommended that anyone who missed it can view it on YouTube.

The Northern Hatchery is having aquifer work done for an improved bore structure.

Vic Fish Stock 2019 has been completed with a limited number of printed copies available and a electronic version available for viewing on the VFA website. Consultation on the next VFS plan will happen in early 2021.

Inter-Valley Transfers (IVTs) have been subject to a review which is due for completion with new trade and operational rules to be introduced in July 2021.  Public consultation via a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) is due to commence in early 2021. The VFA are closely monitoring this process and providing input to ensure our concerns and impacts of flows to our fisheries and health of the lower Goulburn are considered. Flows for this season have already begun, with 27GL ordered for November and 40GL ordered for December 2020 (which is well above the VFA, GBCMA and VEWH seasonal watering recommendations. Travis Dowling urged all members of the SRFR to contact angling clubs to voice their opinions on IVTs.

A joint Bushfire Recovery trial for the Nariel Creek was conducted in collaboration with the ATF, NSW Fisheries, NECMA and local anglers. Trout eggs sourced from wild trout in Lake Jindabyne and brought to Snobs Creek Hatchery where incubated and released as first feeding fry into Nariel Creek. Murray cod will be released into Corryong and Cudgewa Creeks later this year.

Communications – Marc Ainsworth VFA

The 2021 Rec Fishing Guide will come out in early 2021 rather than December 2020.

The VFA has a YouTube channel with over 200 videos, and all of Talk Wild Trout 2020 has been uploaded.

A lot of social media is being done on Golden Tag. These stories are being split between stocking the fish and the recaptures. A post on a tagged cod that was released reached 61,000 in 18 hours. There is a lot of interest and engagement with all Golden Tag posts.

Nine media releases have been put out during November feeding the VFA story to traditional media. Only one of these stories was about illegal fishing, in line with showing a positive attitude.

In the last month the best post on 9 November reached 250,000 people was about nesting boxed at Snobs Creek. A previous nesting box post reached 10s of millions – an all time VFA record.

VRFish Update - Mike Burgess

Mike recognised the work done by Russell Conway, Ben Scullin, Anthony Forster and others over the past four years to get the Maribyrnong River Boat Ramp up and running providing access to over 15km of the river.

Ben Scullin has been busy as the new member of the VRFish staff.

We now have $31mil of our boating licence fees and registration in the Federal Boating Fund. In the past we have averaged around $3mil per year. This should provide for a number of boat ramp projects into the future.

The Crown water frontage opening has been a huge amount of very successful work. VRFish pushed the cause with media releases, letters to the editor, radio interviews and direct lobbying to all sides of politics. They have also trialled direct constituent to decision maker emails. A platform was created to make it easier to directly send the emails. Thousands of emails were sent to cross-benchers with a great spread over metro and regional Victoria.

Along with promoting responsible fishing, VRFish will be promoting responsible camping.

Fishers generally hate littering in the waterways and the proposed container deposit scheme. This is a great opportunity for fishers to deal with litter as well as a means of fundraising for habitat restoration and other projects.

There is currently a marine pest alert for the Asian shore crab in PPB.

Numerous exciting future projects will be undertaken with the Federal Habitat Restoration grants with many opportunities for recreational fishers to get involved.

Discussions have been held with DELWP on the review of their Healthy Waterway Strategy.

The Habitat and Water  group have been doing a great job, with one of their issues being the relationship with VicForests and particularly the water quality monitoring program in the Snobs Creek catchment. VicForest have offered to work with VRFish on this program.

VRFish will again be setting up their email to decision make platform for IVTs particularly looking at the unsustainable downstream almond farming.

Lack of rain has meant that there is no overflow from Rocklands to sustain Toolondo which is reliant on this source of water. A number of Western District lakes are suffering from low water levels. Ways to resolve this need to be looked at.

Following a fish kill at Lake Bullen Merri about 1½ years ago work was done through collaboration with local groups with a decision to restock with smaller chinook salmon fry giving fantastic results.

We now have Better Boating money and discussions have been had with Parks about jetties and piers that are in need of upgrades. These structures are essential for many including families and all-abilities anglers.

Access to current urban stocked lakes is being maintained with lobbying for additional urban lakes. Travis requested that Edwardes Lake in Reservoir be added to the list of potential stocked family fishing lakes citing the benefits to the large number of underprivileged families in the area.

VRFish has been working with Monash University and the VFA through an FRVC funded project with a stewardship program for ethical treatment of banjo sharks.

The Loch Sport have expressed appreciation of the Minister holding the re-launch of the Golden Tag there at Loch Sport.

ATF Update - Terry George

The Ovens River Challenge will take place again next year on 27th and 28th of March at Myrtleford. We hope to see SRFR members there.

Terry acknowledged the work that has been done by John Douglas, Matt Byrne, Rhiannon Atkinson, Neil Hyatt and all at Snobs Creek  in preparing the 50,000 first feed trout fry that have been put into the Jamieson River, 50,000 into the McCallister River, 50,000 into the King River tributary and 50,000 into the upper Dargo River after being bred as wild trout originating at Jindabyne.

The priority actions of the Wild Trout Strategy are numerous but they are all about working together – with the VFA, CMAs and other key stakeholders and the ATF’s passionate volunteer group.

Habitat work is ongoing. The VFA with GBCMA and the ATF volunteers walked the Steavenson River from Buxton to Marysville and the Rubicon River checking on riparian and in stream habitat requirements, cattle access and angler access. The ATF will meet with the GBCMA on 3 December to plan a number of projects. There won’t be any tree planting until Autumn but a lot of negotiating work needs to be done in the meantime with land owners. Work is also being done with NECMA, EGCMA and WGCMA. Another Habitat Workshop is planned with Glenelg Hopkins CMA in Warrnambool in February or early March.

NFA Update – Ron Lewis

The NFA has been busy working on the Macquarie perch breeding program out of fish from the Yarra. This has been difficult as the Yarra has been flowing at a much higher rate than usual throughout the whole year restricting netting.

The new hatchery is coming along well with the layout almost complete.

The small fish reintroduction program in conjunction with CMAs is going well. The NFA is about to resume their fish tanks in schools program.

Fishcare update - Mitch McMaster

Fishcare have been busy organising their contingency plan for COVID. They are hoping to get activities back up and running in January. They have been doing some work with VRFish on sharks and rays.

A large number of new volunteers have been recruited and inducted, so will be ready whenever events reopen.

The ATF is committed to helping Fishcare and gave fishing tutors around the state.

Fishcare, during the COVID downtime, have created basic tutorial videos on how to cast, introduction to fishing and others to introduce newcomers to fishing. The new Fishcare App has also been launched.

Questions & Close - Julia Menzies

Travis expressed his thanks to Julia for the great job that she has done as Chair of the SRFR.

There are no dates set as yet for next year’s meetings, but these should be provided prior to Christmas.   

Meeting closed 12:20pm

Next Roundtable meeting #62 -   TBA

Location/process pending COVID-19 update