SRFR Meeting #57 - 29 November 2019

Meeting date: Friday 29th November 2019

Meeting Location:  Karstens, 123 Queen Street, Melbourne


Better Boating Victoria (Gary) be requested to attend the next Roundtable meeting to present on the implementation of the governments boating election commitments

Craig Ingram


A survey/review of each meeting is to be undertaken for feedback from members  

Julia Menzies


A key agenda item is to be formulated to be the main focus for meetings

Julia Menzies


Circulate Port Philip Bay flathead paper to members

Anthony Forster


No new actions from Meeting #57


Minutes from Meeting #56 accepted.

Brian Mottram, Travis Dowling, Dallas D’Silva and Anthony Forster  – VFA – Election Commitments

A large number of events have been conducted over the last 3 months under the Target One Million banner or with the VFA as a partner. These include:

  • Talk Wild Trout conference
  • Vic Fish Kids Pakenham and Seymour
  • San Remo Festival
  • Fishing For Culture with Bashar Houli
  • Eildon Boating and Fishing Show
  • Hooked on Bellarine featuring recreational fishing and local produce
  • Talking Snapper conference with over 200 attendees
  • Point Lillias clean up day
  • US fishing personality Hilary Hutcheson met with our WIRF leaders
  • Ministerial events including FADs at Torquay
  • Codference and VFK Shepparton on 7&8 Dec
  • WIRF group and Travis Dowling (VFA) will travel to Hobart for the National Recreational Fishing Conference on 10 & 11 Dec

The VFA’s offer for the Northern Hatchery’s preferred site has been accepted. A contract is expected to be signed in the next week.

Social media – A VFA FB post on cod nesting boxes has gone viral, receiving 50 million views worldwide. We are currently averaging 3 posts per day. The VFA’s Poddy Mullet podcast has been launched today. Fish-efacts has changed its name to Nibbles.

The Peeler Bill and the Gippsland Lakes Bill have been passed through Parliament.

Line caught permits are being trialed at Apollo Bay and Mallacoota.

There have been no reports from Fisheries Officers of wildlife caught in nets since the ban of opera house nets was implemented.

Two new apps have been launched for Digital Rec Anglers Licenses and Go Fish Vic which replaces the old Angler Diary.

Since the Port Phillip Bay buy out the commercial catch has been reduced from 720 tonne to 220 tonne.

Gary Gaffney – Better Boating Victoria

Summary of initiatives

  • Boat ramp parking and launching fees have been removed
  • Proceeds of licence and boat registration fees to be allocated to boating facilities and safety
  • Better Boating fund to be established.  BBV are keen to replicate what recreational fishing have with the RFL trust account.
  • Six urgent projects for improved boat access to be delivered
  • Management of boat ramps in Port Phillip and Western Port to be reviewed
  • Eight new casual berths to be established

The Victorian Budget 2019/20 is investing $47.2 million in boating to deliver urgent upgrades to six of the State’s busiest boat ramps, remove fees and review infrastructure management at Port Phillip and Western Port

Better Boating – removed fees at 35 ramps

  • Port Phillip (Altona, Warmies, Mordialloc, Frankston, Werribee, Queenscliff)
  • Mornington Peninsula (Mornington, Safety Beach, Hastings, Rye, Sorrento, Dromana, Tootgarook)
  • South Gippsland & Bass Coast (Rhyll, Newhaven, Inverloch and Cowes, Port Welshpool)
  • Western Port (Corinella, Warneet, Tooradin, Stony Point)
  • Western District (Torquay, Portland, Loddon)
  • Lake Nagambie
  • Lake Eildon

Review of Management Arrangements

  • A review of the management of boating infrastructure in Port Phillip and Western Port, with a view to establishing a dedicated boating infrastructure authority
  • Review to be completed around April 2020
  • Consultation has commenced
  • Further stakeholder engagement late 2019.

Better Boating Fund & Strategy

  • Boating Facilities – renewals, upgrades, new facilities
  • Boating Safety Initiatives
  • Dredging coordination
  • Boating Education
  • Boating industry

Simon Conron – Port Phillip Bay Flathead Fishery

20 years of recording recreational catch rates through the Angler Diary program with the help of citizen scientists continues to be used for fishery management. Measures angler catch rate, size composition, and can provide an indication of recruitment. ~100 volunteer anglers making + 1,000 trips per year.

Sand flathead is the most commonly kept species from PPB.

  • Max age/length: PPB, 23 years / ~ 40 cm TL
  • Age/length maturity: males 2 - 4 y / 22 cm, females 3 - 5 y / 25 cm
  • Fecundity (egg production): Moderate, annual egg production per female weight - unknown
  • Females grow faster and reach larger size than males

~2000 angler interviews annually across four fisheries.

Measures stock/fishery performance – target preference, catch rate, size composition, effort, social and economic values.

PPB Sand flathead update for 2019:

  • The sand flathead population has been stable
  • There are recent signs of slow recovery in catch rates
  • However due to lack of recent strong recruitment ongoing recovery is expected to remain slow

Mike Burgess – VRFish

VRFish have reached almost 10,000 followers on Facebook, with a reach of 2 million for the year.

Projects undertaken this year have included:

  • Yarra Valley Waterways Rules
    • Maritime Safety Victoria were proposing new waterway rules that would kill bream fishing on the Yarra River
    • MSV agreed to suspend consultation and work up new proposal
    • MSV and PV apologised they didn’t even consider recreational fishers!!!!
    • VRFish will be assisting them to understand how us fisher use and value the river
    • Mobilised recreational fishing community
    • Land-based access investigation with Metropolitan Anglers Association
  • Gippsland Lakes
    • Attended Parliament for Legislative Council debate and vote
    • Gippsland Lakes Recovery Plan survey (over 750 responses)
    • Interview on Landline
    • Supporting Gippsland Angling Clubs Association (GACA) with discussion with CMAs
    • Latrobe Mine Void Rehabilitation
  • Reedy Lake No3
    • Attended meeting with GMW consultants with local fishers about Reedy Lake 3 drain down
    • Advised of gaps in fish monitoring and concerns about cod
    • Social media post
    • Additional fish monitoring found southern purple-spotted gudgeon. Drain down halted
    • Great opportunity for a captive breeding program for Native Fish Australia
  • Rec fishing reefs
  • Lake Bullen Merri
    • Meeting with VFA and local anglers
    • Discussed water quality investigations and ‘zero’  catches
    • Stocking plan for the lake
    • New boat ramp designs close
    • Now there is a blue green algae outbreak!
    • Concerns about dropping water levels
  • Spider crabs
    • Diver/conservationists concern over the take of spider crabs in Port Phillip Bay this year.
    • Catalyst for the targeting of spider crabs started on social media channel WeChat.
    • Misinformation spread through the Chinese fishing community that spider crabs were ‘overpopulated’ and the Government were allowing fishers to catch as much as they wanted in order to protect the environment.
    • Crabs used as bases for chilli pastes and soups. There was general acceptance there is not much meat in the crabs.
    • Level of demand next year estimated to be nowhere near as high r.
    • Recommendation producing specific multi-lingual information ready for next year to explain the fishing rules and the migration/aggregation/lifecycles
    • There is no sustainability issue and alarmist commentary is ill-informed
  • Snapper
    • Talking Snapper
    • National Snapper Workshop in Adelaide
    • Raised our concerns for effort shift in South Australian recreational fishers and charter operators to Victorian waters and shift towards other shared species
    • A number of snapper stocks across Australia are in trouble, Victoria in the best position
    • Victoria’s pre-recruit monitoring survey envy of the nation
    • VRFish proposed a National Snapper Stewards program
  • Murray Cod survey
  • Care for Cod
  • Sharks and Rays
    • Developing best practice guideline and campaign for Victorian recreational fishers
    • FRDC project led by Monash Uni, with VFA and VRFish as co-investigators
    • Scientific workshop
    • Survey of rec fishers

Brian Mottram – RFL Report to Parliament

The RFL Report was tabled in Parliament on Wednesday 27th November. $9.4m was spent on recreational fishing in the last financial year.

Three key areas were clarified by Brian.

  • The Department of Transport annual report showed different figures and a much lower expenditure than the RFL report, this due to differences in the accounting processes and the timing of reporting the expenditure.  The RFL report provided today gives an accurate view of where all the funds have been allocated.
  • Target One Million shows an expenditure of $3.5 million for this financial year.  This included funds carried forward from previous financial years.  Investment of RFL funds towards Target One Million include fish purchases, infrastructure and access projects, GO Fish Vic app, rock lobster tagging, conferences and events to promote recreational fishing and assist in the delivery of key messages.  The total investment over three years towards Target One Million has been $6.2 million, well below the maximum of $9 million.
  • The payment to VR Fish of $512K is higher than usual as it includes 2 financial years of 10% payments.  This has inflated the figure by $45K as this payment was for agreed contract implementation from the 2017/18 financial year.

Gavan Dwyer & Matthew Clarke – RFL Review

Good feedback for the review was received from the SRFR members.

  • RFLTA is working well
  • RFL Grants are well subscribed
  • There is an independent Chair

Issues raised:

  • Confusion about how the RFLTA works
  • Concerns over how the views of various stakeholders influenced the outcome of grant applications

Suggested improvements:

  • Grant tiers
  • Timeframe for Large Grants
  • Guidance and feedback on grant applications
  • Review the operations and outputs of VRFish
  • Post project evaluation
  • Recovery of admin and management costs

Diverse views were noted on license exemptions.

There is no strategic plan in place for the RFLWG.


  • New mid-size category for grants ($25-30k)
  • Project and admin costs could be recoverable
  • Greater guidance for applicants
  • EOI’s for Large Grants
  • Co-investment funding
  • Only exemptions be under 18 or over 70 years of age
  • More intensive review of VRFish in 2020
  • Alternative arrangement of an independent group to oversee the trust

This report will now be finalised and provided to the Minister for consideration once it has been considered by the VFA Board.

Terry George - ATF

The Ovens River Challenge will be held at Myrtleford on 28 & 29 March 2020.

The recently completed Wild Trout Strategic Plan will be placed on the VFA website. Comments received from anglers relate to size limits in wild trout streams and closures of wild trout streams in spawning times.

Ron Lewis – NFA

Southern pygmy perch north of the divide are progressing well.

Although the current hatchery site is being taken over, delays have allowed for an extra year of breeding. NFA currently working with LaTrobe Uni to establish a new site.

Anthony Forster  – Manager – Freshwater Fisheries

Maribyrnong River Project:

  • $800,00 3 year plan
  • 133,000 EPs have been stocked
  • There is a draft fish habitat installation plan
  • Rocks, root balls and logs are being introduced as habitat

Brian Mottram – Fish Production and Stocking

900,000 salmonids have been stocked so far for the current season.

The East Gippsland Perch Search has resulted in 125,000 EPs being stocked into Bemm River, Marlo and Lake Tyers.

Stephen Vidler has been contracted to oversee the native fish breeding program at Snobs Creek for this season.

Dylan White has taken up the position of Program Manager at Snobs Creek.

The Snobs Creek Annual Report is expected to be available next week.

Dallas D’Silva – Regs Review

Public comment on the Regs Review has closed. Good input was received. The final brief has gone to the Minister and the new regulations will commence on 1 February 2020.

Meeting closed 3:00pm

Next Roundtable meeting #58 -   will be on Friday 27th March 2019 at 10:00am at Level 15, 1 Spring Street, Melbourne