New regulations from VRFish
  |  First Published: May 2009

VRFish has recently published their April 2009 edition of Fishing Lines. Articles include Spearfishing in Victoria, progress report on Devilbend Natural Features Reserve, Lake Purrumbete Boat Access, and New Fishing Regulations. Fishing Lines will be distributed in the next couple of weeks or it’s available online at www.vrfish.com.au.

High temperatures and salinity in Lake Tyers, prompted by the drought, have led to an increase in naturally occurring copepod parasites infecting some black bream. The parasitic copepods, generally known as sea lice, are common parasites of wild fish in estuarine and marine environments. Some black bream in Lake Tyers are showing signs of blindness, skin lesions, infection and lethargy. A smaller number of similarly affected luderick and eels have also been seen.

Live samples were collected by Fisheries Victoria staff and taken to the Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Attwood Aquatic Animal Health facility for analysis. The results showed the fish were being adversely affected by large numbers of sea lice. In open water systems fish can usually control the severity of their infestation by migrating to areas unfavourable to the lice, causing them to drop off. However, in Lake Tyers they are naturally confined to a system that is currently closed and has little fresh water input. The parasite poses no known risk to human health. DPI Fisheries and the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will continue to monitor the situation.

An increase in the harvest of pipis by recreational fishers at Venus Bay has prompted a reduction in the daily bag limit. Fisheries Victoria will reduce the daily bag and possession limit from 5L to 2L (with shells) per person, to help share access to the pipi fishery. The recent higher level of pipi harvesting reflects the popularity and current abundance of this species. The new limit will start on Friday 25 May 2009.

Fisheries Victoria will implement an advisory program to communicate the changes to fishers. Unless exempt, fishers must have a Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL) in their possession to collect pipis. Pipi collectors are only allowed to use their hands or feet. They cannot use tools of any size or shape to collect pipis. Members of the public who witness or are aware of illegal fishing should call the 24-hour reporting line 13-FISH (13-3474). VRFish supports the reduced possession limit.

At the recent Victoria Coastal Awards announced by the Minister for the Environment, Gavin Jennings, the Boating Industry Association of Victoria took out the Education award for their Marine Pest Project. Many of you would have seen the excellent presentation by Karen Bennett on the importance of cleaning your boat and gear to prevent the spread of marine pests. VRFish would like to congratulate the BIA Vic and particularly Karen for all your hard work and dedication to this project.

Over the last four months there have been eight break-ins to fishing tackle stores across Victoria. Offenders are targeting high value reels such as Saltiga, Penn etc. A full count has not been established but it is somewhere in the vicinity of 400 reels stolen. The thefts are obviously being done to order but the offenders must have somewhere to dispose of these items. As a note, none of the reels are in boxes, they have all been stolen out of the display cabinets from inside the stores.

VRFish asks that anyone who has any information relating to these thefts or who has received any offers on the sly to please call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000. Alternatively contact Detective Senior Constable Rob Howarth from the Box Hill Crime Investigation Unit, phone on 03 9890 9496, fax 03 9899 2002, or email him at --e-mail address hidden-- or visit the station at 249 Middleborough Road, Box Hill 3128.

The new fish cleaning facility adjacent to the St Leonards Boat Ramp at the bottom of Leviens Road will get plenty of use. It was funded by the Federal Recreational Fishing Community Grants Program, Bellarine Foreshore Committee, St Leonards Angling Club and the Association of Geelong and District Angling Clubs. This is another excellent piece of infrastructure for the benefit of recreational fishers driven by VRFish Board member John Hotchin.

Fisheries Victoria has reaffirmed the importance of the new daily catch limit of one elephantfish per person, which came into effect on 2 March 2009. The recent reduction was necessary to ensure the harvest of this species is sustainable. There has been a significant increase in recreational fishing for elephantfish in Western Port bay in the last decade. Public submissions on the new fisheries regulations were equally divided in support and opposition to the proposed elephantfish catch limit reduction.

Recent scientific studies indicate fishing pressure has reduced the reproductive capacity of elephant fish in southeast Australian waters by more than 50%, over the last 30-40 years. Elephantfish are a relatively long-lived, slow growing species with a low reproductive capacity. They migrate into Western Port Bay each year during February and May to spawn and Western Port Bay is the most important water body for egg laying in Australia. It is clear from the scientific information we have that a careful management strategy for this species is necessary. Fisheries Victoria is committed to the sustainable development of fisheries resources for the benefit of future generations. – Christopher Collins, VRFish

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