Chairperson's Summary #62

10:00  am MEETING OPEN -  Julia MenziesRoundtableChairman

Welcome and apologies.

Previous Roundtable actions/ Follow up.

No existing outstanding Actions

NEW ACTIONS – Arising from Meeting #62 –12th Mar 2021


No new actions


Minutes from Meeting #61 accepted. Noted that Brian Wright was in attendance at that meeting.


RFL Strategic Plan –– Taylor Hunt VFA

The sub-committee working group was formed in August 2020 as a result of the Marsden Jacobs Review. The #1 recommendation was to form a strategic plan for RFL investment over the next 10 years. The working group consists of Mike Burgess, Tom Camp, Tim Curmi, Terry George, David Grisold, David Kramer, Sarah Van Stokrom, Andrew Hodges, Taylor Hunt and Dallas D’Silva as Chair. There have been 4 meetings so far where information has been shared on what recreational fishers want, what they want us to invest RFL money into, what current RFL expenditure looks like, and what other States do with regard to their RFL expenditure systems.

A first cut of the draft Strategic Plan has been put together. It sets out why we need an RFL Strategic Plan. We collect about $8m per year of RFL funding and this money goes back into improving fishing, and we should be strategic about where we put that money to be sure we get best value for money.

The Minister for Fishing and Boating will then be briefed to seek her approval. The next step is then to bring all the feedback together into a final first draft to be circulated back to members of the sub-committee, and then to present it back to this forum and put it out for broader comment from recreational fishers. When finalized, it can then be used as a plan for where we invest RFL money in the future and also how we invest future recreational fishing funding.

Crown Land Access – Chris Padovani VFA

Draft watercourse regulations are out for public consultation for a 6-week period that closes in mid April. The VFA have been meeting with groups such as the VFF, license holders, land-care groups and traditional owners. There is a sentiment of concern about the draft regulations, particularly from land-care groups, who don’t quite appreciate that the proposal relates to camping on Crown Land river frontage with grazing licenses. Riparian land and culturally or environmentally sensitive land will be excluded from camping.

Feedback from angling clubs and stakeholders has been good, but you are encouraged to put in a submission, even if only to say that you support the proposal. It is all about public access to public land.

It is illegal to put up private property/keep out type signs on Crown Land.

Terry George raised a question on work restrictions and consultation with land owners for land access for riparian work. The VFA’s powers are limited. Meetings have been held with DELWP and letters have been sent to license holders requesting access. If legislation is passed, the VFA will have powers from 1 September 2021 to open up access to Crown Land.

Doug Braham expressed the support of the CVFFC and asked about funding for the project. The VFA has made some funding and staffing available for this.

Adrian Tran queried the possibility of malicious use of stock around campers. Both campers and landholders should recognize that Crown Land will involve shared use.

Ron Lewis asked about identifying river frontage that is Crown Land and frontage that is private. There is approximately 170,000 km of river frontage throughout Victoria. Of that, only 30,000km is Crown Land. The Regulation is that you can’t camp within 20m of the waterway, so excluding some large parcels of land from camping where river frontages are narrow. You also can’t camp within 100m of a license holder’s home. There are areas that are of cultural significance, areas covered by riparian licenses and areas that are completely land locked (eg no public access route) that will not be available for camping. The VFA’s app will show where you can and can’t camp on Crown Land subject to regulations.

The importance of educating campers to the use of appropriate behaviors eg litter removal, was noted.

The funding of the App and the signage is from the VFA’s budget, as is the education and enforcement. Ongoing funding is still to be determined. There is currently no funding coming from the RFL Trust Fund.

VRFish Review – Dallas D’SilvaVFA

A lot of work has been done on the VRFish Review since the last SRFR meeting. The Minister has met with stakeholders and with Chair Julia Menzies.

The review is still under active consideration by the Minister.

Recommendations have been submitted from the SRFR group as well individual recommendations from Terry George and David Kramer. The Terms of Reference stated that it was a review of the VRFish advocacy work. The recommendations were based around the Board and the makeup of the Board.

Tom Camp noted that the Marsden Jacobs report said that the review should look more broadly at representation, more broadly at advocacy, and whether VRFish is the one or the only representational body for recreational anglers. Tom does now feel that these issues were dealt with under the current review. The review was internal rather than independent. A strategic plan is needed for advocacy and representation and allocation of funding into the future.

Gippsland Lakes Rec Fishing Plan – Michelle Wenner VFA

The Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan was finalised in late January after some extensive consultation and a record level of responses to the stakeholder survey. Almost 4400 responses were received, with those showing a very high level of support for the plan. The plan can be accessed on the VFA website.

Significant inroads are being made for the recovery of the Gippsland Lakes. Estuary perch and Australian bass have been stocked. Commercial netting was removed ahead of schedule in April 2020. A slot limit (28-38cm) for bream will be introduced from 1 April 2021. The fishery’s performance continues to be monitored.

The 12th of March sees the first ever stocking of dusky flathead into the lakes system. Studies have shown that there has been no natural recruitment this year, further highlighting the importance of this stocking.

Brian Wright asked about the possibility of blue spot flathead stocking in PPB. He will continue to monitor flathead stock in the Bay.

Native Fish Hatchery – Brian Mottram VFA

Native fish Hatchery

Progress is going well at the Arcadia Native Fish Hatchery with construction of 32 brood and plankton ponds now under way. The plan is to have capacity to breed 1.6 million native fish per year.

The SRFR newsletter covers:

The Snobs Creek Hatchery – Overall things have gone well over the summer. The cooler conditions have presented some challenges for the native fish program with spawning times and feed growth in the ponds. Salmonids have had a really good year for survival over the summer period.

It has also been a good year for the breeding of Macquarie perch. Brood stock were obtained from Dartmouth with the assistance of ARI.

Upgrades at the Snobs Creek Hatchery include improvements to offices, staff amenities, fish inspection and laboratory space. It has been over 20 years since any work has been done in that area.  Staff are excited to be able to use these new areas as part of growing our fish production and stocking commitments.

Events and Engagement - Face to face events are returning with the VFA’s participation in Go Fish Nagambie 25-28 March including kids fishing activities.

There will be 3 Vic Fish Kids events held during April. These will be run slightly differently to past events with limits on participation numbers and preregistered entry to work within Covid guidelines. The Murray Codference will take place on 18 April as a face-to-face event in Shepparton.

Murray cod closed season

Late last year VRFish put forward a proposal to lift the closed season for Murray cod in the Wimmera and Millicent basins (excluding the Wimmera River) because both are outside their natural range. These areas have been heavily stocked over a number of years with limited natural recruitment. Lifting the closed season would provide more year-round opportunities for people to go fishing and give a break to the river systems where cod do breed. The proposal was taken to the Murray Cod Reference Group earlier this year with general support given. The VFA are now in thew process of a Fisheries Notice Consultation to receive broader feedback from fishers. Feedback is open until the end of March with strong signs of support.

Ron Lewis noted that Murray cod spawn every year, but may not recruit on an annual basis. There is a need to look at why they don’t recruit.  Communications from the VFA need to be clear on whether they are referring to spawning or recruitment to avoid confusion.

Port Phillip Bay Snapper – Brian Wright

The 2020 snapper season went ahead despite Covid, with many anglers taking good catches. Following on from a number of arrests where fish were taken illegally from the Ricketts Point Marine Park and vast numbers of anglers and boats participating, Brian pointed out that VFA Enforcement needs to be proactive and be prepared for the coming snapper season.

VRFish Update – Ben Scullin VRFish

With regard to VRFish advocacy, Ben has attended the annual meeting of the Goulburn Valley Association of Angling Clubs. There have been access issues with local governments with both fishing and boating. The local water authority have turned off supply to a lake in the Corop group with potential economic, health, wellbeing and environmental risks.

NFA Update – Ron Lewis

Ron offered his congratulations to everyone in the VFA for the amount of activity that is going on at the moment as outlined in the current SRFR newsletters.

Discussions are continuing with La Trobe University on a new hatchery building. Previous plans are being reviewed due to a lack of current university funding. Discussions are positive and NFA will soon be viewing a new building. A large amount of equipment has been donated from another university and is waiting on a finalised location.

In the current hatchery, breeding is about to start on some of the smaller species.

The NFA is involved in a support program for Melbourne Water in the breeding of Yarra pygmy perch and dwarf galaxias.

Fishing events on the Murray have been very successful with high levels of participation. The Ovens River Challenge is on 20 & 21 March.

A new NFA branch is being formed in Cobden – the Blackfish Action Group. The group has been active for some time and have decided to set up a branch and extend the NFA into that area.

A program has been operating to get fish tanks into schools and get students involved in understanding fish. The program had been on hold due to Covid, but has now recommenced. It is hoped that this educational program will inspire interest in waterways and in recreational fishing.

Work is being done with the City of Dandenong and the City of Casey to try to get them involved in habitat programs and the smaller native fish species in their areas. Most have extensive waterways in their parks but may not understand about the fish that should be in those waters.

The NFA has also been involved in the southern purple spotted gudgeon brood stock collection in conjunction with the NCCMA - aiming to increase numbers in Victorian waterways.

ATF Update - Terry George

The Ovens River Challenge is on 20 & 21 March based at Nimmo Bridge in Myrtleford. This is the second date set for this event with the 2020 event being cancelled due to Covid. There has been good local community and tackle store support. Terry thanked the VFA for their support.

The Eildon Waters Holiday Park - Habitat Restoration event will take place in collaboration with the GBCMA and Fishcare. Fencing has been repaired, the weeds have been slashed and 650 native trees will be planted. Also another part of the in-stream woody habitat installation and boulder seeding is to take place. Fishcare will be bringing along 20-30 youngsters to participate. A date in May will be selected for this event.

In May, the Nariel Trees for Trout week will take place, where 10,000 trees will be planted as part of the Bushfire Relief work. NECMA have been heavily involved in this project, including building a fish ladder on the Cudgewa Creek.

The ATF is working on some of the priority actions under the Wild Trout Strategy 2020-2025. Temperature data for anglers is to be sourced and made available on the ATF website.

John Morrongiello from the University of Melbourne is preparing a plan for mapping the riparian areas in our waterways to update work previously done so that sites needing revegetation can be identified. John and Matt West are also working on the endangered leaping tree frog - studying the effects that introduced species are having. A study on trout genetics in Victoria is being done to identify which trout are adapting to warmer waters.

ARI have been conducting electrofishing surveys in four streams of last year’s stocking trials – The Macalister, Upper Dargo, Jamieson and King Rivers. Results are not yet available, however DNA testing is being done at Melbourne University.

Questions & Close - Julia Menzies

Meeting closed 12:00pm

Next Roundtable meeting #63 -   18th Jun 2021

Location/process pending COVID-19 update