North East Fishery Management Plan
Management Report Series No. 48
The purpose of the North East Fishery Management Plan (NEFMP) is to specify the objectives, strategies and actions for managing fishing activities within the North East Fishery.
The North East Fishery includes several popular recreational fisheries of statewide significance. The North East Fishery is considered by many to be to the premier trout fishery in Victoria and draws visitors from across the State and elsewhere in Australia. Other popular recreational fishery species in the North East Fishery include redfin, golden perch and the iconic Murray cod which is Australia's largest freshwater fish. Recreational fisheries based on trout, redfin and native species are major social and economic contributors to regional communities in the North East.
The NEFMP prescribes fishery management arrangements in accordance with a nationally agreed framework for applying the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development to fisheries.
The NEFMP describes the main fishing waterways and impoundments, and key recreational target species; current management arrangements for recreational fishing activities; goals, objectives, performance indicators, targets and actions for management of recreational fishing activities; and processes for participating in management of other relevant issues, to ensure possible negative consequences to fish habitat are identified and responsible agencies notified.
Actions to be implemented in the next five years include:
- A research angler diary program for the iconic trout fisheries in the North East Region.
- An assessment of the sustainability of the recreational harvest of Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and Macquarie perch.
- Preparation of a Stream Classification Model for the waters of the North East Fishery to define the waters to be classified as Native, Mixed or Salmonid fisheries.
- Quantification of the social and economic benefits of possible alternative trout fishing regulations within the North East Fishery.
- Ongoing stocking of fish in support of recreational fishing in suitable waters.
- Monitoring of fish populations and angler catch and effort in Lake Hume.
- Investigation of the development of a small, limited-take trout cod fishery in selected impoundments in the North East Region to provide new fishing opportunities.
- Preparation of information packages on habitat and environmental conditions required to sustain the production of key recreational fishery species including trout, redfin, Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and golden perch, and provision of the information packages to habitat resource managers.
- The Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (VRFish), to liaise with anglers to identify opportunities to improve access to fisheries resources; engage local government, water authorities and land managers to seek improvements to road and track access to fisheries resources; and promote the interests of anglers in the North East Fishery.
If information from these programs indicates a need to alter arrangements to ensure sustainable use or to meet changing demands for recreational fishing opportunities, changes will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.
Annual progress reports and a five-year review process will allow the arrangements to be adapted to changing future circumstances, ensuring sustainable use of fisheries resources with optimum economic and social benefits to the community.
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is charged with the sustainable development of Victoria's primary industries for the benefit of all Victorians, now and into the future. The Fisheries division (Fisheries Victoria) works with its stakeholders to facilitate the sustainable development of Victoria's recreational fishing and manage Victoria's fisheries resources for the benefit of the community.
A North East Reference Group will be established to work with the DPI to deliver the desired management outcomes for the North East Fishery. It is proposed that the group include representatives nominated by VRFish, Fisheries Victoria and the North East CMA.
The Fisheries division (Fisheries Victoria) of the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) works with its stakeholders to facilitate the sustainable development of fisheries resources and is responsible for ensuring that these resources are maintained by careful management of commercial and recreational fishing. A key task in sustainable management is the development and implementation of fishery management plans.
Fishery management plans specify the objectives, strategies, actions and performance measures for managing fishing activities in accordance with the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD).
Recreational fishing is the primary fishing activity in Victoria's rivers, tributaries, lakes and impoundments. Other fishing activities in inland areas of Victoria include commercial bait fishing and aquaculture (which are managed through licensing). As such, inland fishery management plans focus on managing recreational fishing activities with the aim of enhancing environmental, social and economic outcomes. Inland fishery management plans also recognise the importance of fisheries resources to Aboriginal communities.
Effectively managing inland fisheries requires the implementation of appropriate fisheries management tools (for example, bag and size limits), but also a recognition that other anthropogenic activities in the catchment are equally, if not more, important in sustaining fish stocks. Therefore, inland fishery management plans must be prepared with a strong focus on establishing partnerships with relevant catchment and water management agencies.
The North East Catchment Management Authority (North East CMA) is one of 10 Catchment Management Authorities that have responsibility for managing catchments and waterways in Victoria. Catchment Management Authorities develop and implement Regional Catchment Strategies and their substrategies, the Regional River Health Strategies.
To create effective alignment of catchment and fishery management strategies and the efficient delivery of management actions, the North East Fishery Management Plan (NEFMP) has been aligned with the boundaries of the North East CMA. However, the NEFMP recognises that management of fishery resources must also occur at larger scales across Catchment Management Authority boundaries. Fisheries Victoria has identified management units where similar species and ecological characteristics are found and manages these units on a statewide basis.
All inland waters in Victoria are defined as a Fishery by virtue of the use of recreational fishing equipment. The NEFMP will provide management direction for fishing activities across the inland area administered by the North East CMA and included in the North East Fishery. This area includes all inland waterways (lakes and rivers) in the Kiewa, Ovens and Upper Murray Basins.
The goal of the NEFMP is to manage fisheries resources in the North East Region in accordance with principles of ESD (Fletcher et al. 2002). The aim of ESD is to enable the ongoing use, conservation and enhancement of the fisheries resources such that ecological processes are maintained into the future and, where possible, usage is enhanced. In the context of the NEFMP, ESD involves research to demonstrate the sustainable harvest of fisheries resources, identification of the habitats and aquatic environments on which fisheries resources depend, and enhancing social and economic benefits for all Victorians.
North East Region
The North East Region covers an area of almost two million hectares extending from the steep rocky headwaters of the Great Dividing Range, to the milder terrain of the northern foothills, and to the Riverine Plains of the southern Murray-Darling Basin (Figure 1). The three major catchments of the region, all of which are dominated by the Great Dividing Range, are the Upper Murray, Kiewa and Ovens catchments (NECMA 2004a).
The Murray River is part of NSW and is not included in the Victorian North East Region. Victorian waters include Lake Hume, but do not include the Murray River or Lake Mulwala.
The Upper Murray catchment occupies the eastern part of the region and is mountainous with elevations of up to 1980 metres above sea level. The Mitta Mitta River drains over half of the catchment, and other short watercourses drain directly into the Murray River.
The Kiewa River catchment occupies the central part of the region, extending from the Bogong High Plains to the Murray River. The catchment is long (100 kilometres) and narrow (< 32 kilometres), and the terrain ranges from steep hills to river floodplains. Another small catchment (Indigo Creek) drains to the Murray River below Lake Hume, to the north of Barnawartha.
The Ovens catchment occupies the western part of the region. The upper third of the catchment comprises forested, mountainous ranges that reach alpine elevations (for example, Mt Feathertop, Mt Hotham, Mt Howitt and Mt Buffalo). The terrain across the remainder of the catchment ranges between semi-cleared foothills and valleys of the Ovens and King rivers and their tributaries, and the riverine plains and floodplains of the Lower Ovens River and the Murray River.
The Great Dividing Range influences the climate of the North East Region, which varies dramatically across the region. Average annual rainfall ranges from 500 millimetres on the northern plains to more than 2000 millimetres in the alpine areas, much of this falling as snow. Approximately 60 per cent of annual rainfall occurs between May and October, with flooding common in the Ovens catchment (North East Regional Catchment and Land Protection Board 1997; Department of Natural Resources and Environment 2001).
Temperatures also vary dramatically, depending on topography and location. Maximum temperatures greater than 38 °C are common away from the foothills and humidity levels are usually low. In winter, temperatures range between 10 °C and 16 °C in the flatter country, but reach close to zero in the mountain regions (DNRE 2001).
Land in the North East Region is predominantly used for forestry and parks, followed by agriculture. Approximately 43 per cent of the total area of agricultural production is used for irrigated and dryland pastures, which support beef, sheep and dairying industries. Horticultural crops including vegetables and wine grapes are grown mostly in the Ovens catchment (NERCLPB 1997).
The North East Region includes the municipalities of Wodonga, Indigo, Wangaratta, Alpine, Towong and parts of Moira and East Gippsland (Figure 1).
The North East Region has a population of nearly 95,000. The most populated areas include the municipalities of Wodonga and Wangaratta, which combine to make up almost 50 per cent of the total population of the region (NECMA 2004a).
The people of the North East Region value the waterways and surrounds, and participate in activities including recreational fishing, boating, waterskiing, canoeing, bushwalking and camping.
Recreational fishing is an important secondary purpose for many impoundments in the Region including lakes Hume, and Dartmouth. Guided recreational fishing tours are also becoming an important drawcard and are gaining in popularity. Tourism infrastructure and businesses such as tackle shops and accommodation providers within the North East Region derive significant revenue from anglers visiting the region to fish.
The North East Region of Victoria supports high quality salmonid, redfin and native recreational fisheries which provide significant social and economic value to the region's communities. Key native recreational fishery species such as Murray cod and Murray spiny crayfish also have significant ecological value. The foothills of the Great Dividing Range in the North East Region are regarded by many as providing some of the best wild trout fishing opportunities in Victoria. Murray cod, golden perch, redfin and Murray spiny crayfish are popular angling species in the lower reaches of the major river systems, and in impoundments in the North East Region. Fisheries Victoria stocks many of these fishery species into impoundments and stocks golden perch and Murray cod into several rivers in the North East Region.
The major rivers in the region include the Mitta Mitta River (Upper Murray catchment), King River, Ovens River, Buffalo and Kiewa rivers. Through these waterways, the region contributes 38 per cent of total surface water volume in the Murray-Darling Basin (NERCLPB 1997).
Water is harvested from the main tributaries to irrigate pastures and crops, and supply more than 20 towns (including Wodonga and Wangaratta) with drinking water. Two of Victoria's major water storages, Lake Hume (> 3 million megalitres) and Lake Dartmouth (4 million megalitres), supply water via the Murray system for domestic use and irrigation downstream as far as Adelaide (NERCLPB 1997). The water released from Lake Hume accounts for more than 25 per cent of average flow in the Murray River. Lake Dartmouth acts as a carry over storage during drought (Upper North East Water Quality Working Group 2001).
Regulation of river systems may affect the sustainability of fish populations by removing or modifying environmental cues necessary for spawning.
The Rocky Valley Reservoir (28,400 megalitres) is the major water storage in the Kiewa River catchment (UNEWQWG 2001). Lake Buffalo on the Buffalo River (24,000 megalitres) and Lake William Hovell on the King River (13,500 megalitres) are the only two constructed water storages within the Ovens catchment (NECMA 2000).
Sections of the Upper Kiewa River, Nine-Mile, Clear and Hurdle creeks, and Lake Hume have been recognised as Proclaimed Water Supply Catchments. The water resources in these areas are protected for either hydroelectric power generation or water supply (UNEWQWG 2001).
As a basis for strategic statewide fisheries management, Fisheries Victoria has identified regions with similar environmental, geomorphological and fishery species characteristics. Similar areas have been grouped into management units (Figure 1). The North East Region contains the following fisheries management units which will assist in identifying and describing issues.
- Lowland (warm-water) rivers
- Midland (mixed) rivers
- Upland (cold-water) rivers
Fisheries management units are a tool to assist in the identification and prioritisation of issues at a strategic level. Fisheries management units allow common issues to be grouped together and addressed with a strategic approach and in particular, recognising the North East CMA's model for investment, allow the establishment of partnerships for management outcomes at common geographic scales.
Management units will not be used as a vehicle for introducing different fishing regulations at smaller spatial scales within the waters of the North East Region. Therefore, the need for detailed descriptions of boundaries is largely redundant and is not provided in the NEFMP. In addition, boundaries may also change seasonally as a result of fluctuations in river flows and water levels.
The following sections provide information on the recreational fishing species generally found in each management unit. Information has been obtained from the Guide to Inland Angling Waters of Victoria www.depi.vic.gov.au/angling/, from Fisheries Victoria regional staff and through public consultation undertaken during the development of the NEFMP.
Lowland (warm-water) rivers
The Lowland rivers management unit refers to the lower reaches of the larger rivers which flow in mature valleys over broad alluvial plains. Lowland rivers are characterised by a wide river channel, sediment bed bottoms, a wide floodplain and warm waters.
The rivers and tributaries of this management unit support numerous fish species, although by virtue of their warmer water and other habitat conditions, key recreational angling species are golden perch, Murray cod and redfin. Murray spiny crayfish are taken from the lowest reaches of the Ovens and Kiewa rivers. Golden perch have been stocked in the lower Ovens for several years. The Lower Ovens River supports one of the key remnant self-sustaining Murray cod populations in Victoria.
The Lowland rivers management unit encompasses the lower reaches and tributaries of the Ovens River below Wangaratta and Kiewa River below Kergunyah, where they drain into the Murray River.
Examples of other Lowland rivers include the lower reaches of Black Dog, One Mile, Diddah Diddah, Huon, Indigo and Reedy creeks and their tributaries (Figure 1).
Many of the smaller rivers west of Wodonga such as the Black dog, Diddah Diddah and Indigo do not support strong recreational fisheries as many frequently dry out in summer, retaining only small, disconnected pools of water.
Midland (mixed) rivers
Midland rivers are characterised by widening valley channels with gravel beds migrating into sediment covered beds with some floodplain development. The upper and lower reaches of this management unit are characterised by a mixing zone of warmer and cooler waters.
Midland rivers are usually described as 'mixed fishery' reflecting the mix of warm water and cold water species that occur in this management unit. The most popular fishery species include Murray cod, golden perch, redfin and brown and rainbow trout. Trout populations in this management unit are self-sustaining and no stocking occurs.
Golden perch and Murray cod are regularly taken from Buffalo River downstream of the Lake and Buffalo Creek. Within this management unit, Murray cod have been stocked into the Kiewa River and a prominent fishery for this species exists around Dederang. The lower reaches of Midland rivers including the Cudgewa and Corryong creeks also contain small populations of Murray cod.
Examples of Midland rivers in the North East Region include the middle sections of the King, Ovens and Kiewa rivers and sections of the Koetong, Deadman and Fifteen Mile creeks.
Upland (cold-water) rivers
Upland rivers can be generally characterised as valley channels with primarily gravel bed and little or no evidence of a floodplain. Many rivers and tributaries in Upland rivers support selfsustaining brown and rainbow trout populations which are the dominant fishery species in this management unit.
The Upland rivers management unit includes waterways around the townships of Omeo, Mt Beauty, Bright, Mitta Mitta, Myrtleford and Corryong.
The upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta, Ovens and Kiewa rivers and Nariel Creek are examples of Upland rivers.
Within the Upland rivers management unit, some areas are defined as 'Tailrace' rivers. In the North East Region, the Fisheries Regulations 1998 defines these areas as the Mitta Mitta River and its tributaries upstream of Peters Bridge (Tallandoon) to the Dartmouth Pondage and the Kiewa River and its tributaries upstream of Keegan's Bridge (near Dederang). 'Tailrace' rivers are formed when cool water is released into rivers from impoundments.
Current regulations for 'Tailrace' rivers can be found in the Victorian Fishing Guide, but at the time of writing, the regulations include a range of bag and size limits and a closed season.
'Tailrace' rivers are closed to all fishing from midnight of the Queen's Birthday weekend in June each year to midnight on the Friday before the first Saturday in September.
During this period, fishing is permitted in other rivers and streams, but taking trout is prohibited. Therefore, impoundments provide an important year-round recreational fishing opportunity for trout anglers in the North East Region.
'Tailrace' rivers support significant numbers of large trout (> 1 kilogram) because habitat conditions, including year round water temperatures and flows, are favourable to supporting self-sustaining trout populations.
Tailrace rivers are targeted by fishers using flyfishing or lure-fishing techniques.
To cater for developing and experienced anglers, sections of three Victorian rivers will be developed and promoted as Premier Rivers. The Premier rivers will be developed over the life of the project in conjunction with local stakeholders.
Preferred river stretches have been selected in consideration of their location within the State, high recreational angling value, suitable areas for access to the river and the species of fish that anglers are likely to catch. Within the North East Region, the Kiewa has been selected as a Premier River.
An information package will be developed for each of the river stretches identifying key access points and the type of fishing experience and facilities that they provide.
The impoundments unit describes all static water bodies that support or have supported fish species targeted by recreational fishers across the North East Region. The primary purpose of impoundments is to provide a water supply for the region, but many impoundments have been stocked and are popular areas for recreational fishing.
The most popularly fished impoundments and the key recreational target species are described in Appendix 2. In summary, lakes Hume, Dartmouth and Banimboola (Dartmouth Pondage), and Mt Beauty Pondage are considered the most popular impoundments for recreational fishing. This is followed by lakes Buffalo and William Hovell.
Lake Hume is one of Australia's premier inland fisheries and key recreational angling species are trout, golden perch, redfin and Murray cod. Lake Hume is regionally important for tourism as it provides for year round angling opportunities for a range of different species in a location close to Albury/Wodonga. Lake Hume is currently stocked with brown trout and golden perch.
Lake Hume is an irrigation storage and while water levels may be low in extremely dry years, small boat access to the remaining large body of water is possible. There is a small commercial carp fishery in Lake Hume operating under permit.
In 2004 New South Wales and Victoria agreed that for the purposes of fisheries management, Victorian fishing regulations would apply in Lake Hume and NSW fishing regulations would apply in Lake Mulwala. Lake Hume includes the Murray River arm of the lake, from the weir wall upstream to the point where Seven Mile Creek enters the Murray River on the northern bank of the Murray River; and the Mitta Mitta River arm of the lake, from the weir wall upstream to the Murray Valley Highway Bridge situated east of Tallangatta.
Lake Dartmouth, located on the Mitta Mitta River, is principally a trout fishery for both rainbow and brown trout. There is a very limited take of Macquarie perch. Trout fishing in Lake Dartmouth is allowed year-round and provides angling opportunities for the region when access to other waters is restricted during the salmonid closed season. Most fishing activity is from boats, because of limited shore access. Lake Dartmouth is a large storage and less likely to be drawn down to the low levels of other storages in the region.
Lake Banimboola, below Lake Dartmouth, and locally known as Dartmouth Pondage, is also an important trout fishery. It provides angling opportunities during the salmonid closed season, and when weather conditions on Lake Dartmouth make it unsuitable for boat fishing. Banimboola has been stocked for the past five years with both rainbow and brown trout.
Mt Beauty Pondage is a small regulating pondage on the Kiewa River at Mt Beauty. It is regularly stocked with both rainbow and brown trout. Mt Beauty Pondage is an important water body as it allows for trout fishing all year round, has good access for bank fishing, and allows for high numbers of anglers to access a relatively small surface area. The pondage sits below the township of Mt Beauty and provides fishing opportunities for visitors to the region through easy bank access.
In the Alpine region, Rocky Valley and Pretty Valley dams sit at the head of the Kiewa system. These two small storages provide a niche fishery for anglers visiting the high country.
Lake Buffalo sits in the upper reaches of Buffalo River and is a mixed fishery, with trout and redfin as the predominant species. Recent stockings of golden perch and Murray cod, instigated by local anglers and supported by Fisheries Victoria, have improved fishing opportunities for these species. Lake Buffalo provides good opportunities for anglers in the Ovens Valley, and provides for yearround trout fishing. Its close proximity to the towns of Myrtleford and Bright make it an important tourism destination.
Lake William Hovell is on the King River and is recognised as a valuable trout fishery. It is a small storage which provides year-round fishing access.
Family Fishing Lakes
The Impoundments management unit also includes water bodies managed as part of Fisheries Victoria's Family Fishing Lakes Program, previously known as the Small Waters Program. This Program stocks on-grown trout and native species into selected urban lakes that allow easy access for young and disabled anglers in close proximity to regional centres. Family Fishing Lakes in the North East Region are detailed in Appendix 3.
Figure 1. Map of the North East Region Fishery Management Units
Key introduced recreational fishery species
Introduced fish species provide important recreational fishing opportunities in the North East Region. The North East is considered by many to be the premier trout fishery in Victoria and draws visitors from across the State and elsewhere in Australia. The recreational trout fishery is a major social and economic contributor to regional communities. According to the National Recreational Indigenous Fishing Survey, the overall harvest of trout was about 0.8 million fish, 45 per cent of which were taken in Victoria, 30 per cent in New South Wales and 26 per cent in Tasmania. Of the Victorian trout catch, 30 per cent were taken in the Upper Murray catchment of the North East Region, with 68 per cent from impoundments and the remainder from rivers and streams.
Redfin is the most commonly taken fish by number in the North East Region, closely followed by brown trout. More than 90 per cent of redfin taken in the North East Region were caught in Lake Hume (Henry and Lyle 2003).
While introduced recreational fishery species provide important social and economic benefits to regional communities, their management requires consideration of the adverse impact they can have on native species. McDowell (2006) reported that trout species have had a major impact on native fish species, being implicated in the decline of several species such as native galaxiid and pygmy perch.
Biology and ecological requirements of key introduced recreational fishery species
Brown trout (Salmo trutta)
Brown trout is native to the cool and cold waters of Europe, and was introduced to Australia in the 1860s from Scotland as a recreational sport fish (McDowall 1996). Its distribution has increased through a combination of translocation and migration.
The ideal habitats for this species are cool, welloxygenated waters, such as rivers and streams with moderate to fast flow. Most suitable waterways tend to exist in mountainous areas and feature adequate cover in the form of submerged rocks, undercut banks and overhanging vegetation. Impoundments where suitable water quality, habitat and food exist may also support brown trout.
Juvenile brown trout feed mainly on aquatic and terrestrial insects; whereas adults feed on molluscs, crustaceans and small fish.
Brown trout mature at three to four years of age. Spawning season extends from autumn into winter. Females use their tail to excavate depressions in the stream bed and lay an average of 1,600 eggs for each kilogram of body weight (Payne et al. 1990). After spawning, eggs are covered by dislodging gravel upstream of the spawning site (Cadwallader and Backhouse 1983). Fish migrate upstream into smaller tributaries and feeder streams, or spawn locally in resident rivers. Trout require a gravel substrate for the deposition of eggs to ensure sufficient oxygen supply.
Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
Rainbow trout is native to the pacific coast of North America. They were introduced to Australia in the 1890s from New Zealand where it had previously been introduced from California. As was the case with brown trout, it was introduced to satisfy a sport fishing market (McDowall 1996).
Rainbow trout are able to tolerate slightly higher water temperatures than brown trout. This species is more successful in lakes than in rivers and streams.
Spawning requirements for this species are similar to those of brown trout, although they spawn later in the year, during winter and early spring.
Adults feed on aquatic and terrestrial insects, molluscs, crustaceans, fish eggs and small fishes (including other trout). Juveniles feed predominantly on zooplankton.
The upland rivers management unit provides the predominant suitable habitat for trout.
Redfin (Perca fluviatilis)
Redfin, also known as English perch, was introduced from Europe during the 1860s (McDowall 1996).
Redfin prefer lakes and still, slow flowing rivers with abundant aquatic vegetation. It feeds on crustaceans, worms, molluscs, insect larvae and smaller fishes. Vegetation plays an important role in the life cycle of redfin. During spawning, the female disperses eggs amongst aquatic plants and submerged logs.
Redfin are known to be susceptible to the lethal endemic virus, epizootic haematopoietic necrosis virus (EHNV), particularly during summer months. During an initial epidemic, high adult and juvenile mortality occurs. Most mortalities occur in juveniles. Infection is characterised by necrosis of the kidney, spleen, liver and pancreas.
Some fishers catch other introduced species in the North East Region including common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Carp are listed as a noxious fish species in Victoria and must not be returned alive to the water if caught.
Biology and ecological requirements of key native recreational fishery species
Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii)
Murray cod is Australia's largest native freshwater fish and occurs naturally in upper reaches of the Murray-Darling system where the water is relatively clear. Murray Cod are widely distributed throughout the Murray-Darling River system and in some localities they are abundant. Although the total range of Murray cod has remained relatively constant, the species has undergone an extensive decline in abundance since European settlement of Australia, especially in the last 70 years (Rowland 2005). Reasons for the decline may include habitat loss and degradation, pollution, barriers to fish passage, flow regulation, cold water releases and fishing.
Murray cod occur most frequently in sluggish, turbid waters, usually in deep holes, where logs and stumps afford cover and provide spawning sites. It may live and breed in lakes where water conditions and habitat are suitable.
Murray cod can attain 1.8 metres in length and 113.5 kilograms, but commonly reaches 55-65 centimetres and weights of 2-5 kilograms. It is usually sexually mature at four years of age and grows rapidly in the first four to five years with some individual fish reaching 64 centimetres in the fifth year.
Spawning occurs in the spring and summer months in water temperatures between 16 and 21 °C. Females can lay up to 40,000 eggs which are deposited in hollow logs or shallow water. Eggs hatch six to 13 days later, with juvenile fish feeding freely about three to four weeks later.
The Ovens River is the most important Murray cod fishery in the North East Region. Approximately 20 per cent of the Victorian Murray cod is taken from the Ovens River with significant numbers caught from Lake Hume (Henry and Lyle 2003). The mid-lower Kiewa is also a key Murray cod fishery in the North East Region.
Golden perch (Macquaria ambigua)
Golden perch occur naturally in Victorian tributaries of the Murray-Darling system, except higher altitude streams. They occur in a variety of habitats, but most frequently in warm, turbid, sluggish inland waters and associated backwaters and billabongs.
Golden perch can grow to 75 centimetres in length and 23 kilograms in weight, but are more commonly less than 5 kilograms. They have a wide temperature tolerance and may be found in water ranging from 4 to 37 °C.
Although less than 5 per cent of the Victorian golden perch catch is taken from the North East Region, it is an important recreational fishery species in the region. Within the North East Region, most of the catch is taken from Lake Hume, where stocking supports the population, with a smaller proportion taken from the Ovens River (Henry and Lyle 2003).
Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica)
Macquarie perch occur naturally north of the Great Dividing Range in tributaries of the Murray- Darling system.
Macquarie perch may attain a weight of 3.5 kilograms, but in Victoria it more commonly reaches 35-40 centimetres and weights of 750 grams to 1 kilogram. Males can mature at 2 years of age and up to 21 centimetres; females at 3 years of age and up to 30 centimetres, although local conditions may induce the species to breed at smaller or larger sizes.
Female Macquarie perch of 30 centimetres or larger may produce between 50,000 and 110,000 eggs. Spawning usually occurs during spring or summer (October-January) with water temperatures between 16 °C and 22 °C. Breeding occurs in flowing water on rock or gravel substrates. Eggs hatch after 10 to 18 days. Growth can be rapid, a five-year-old fish being 38 centimetres. Fish of 10 years of age have been collected.
Macquarie perch are carnivorous, taking aquatic insects, with some crustaceans and molluscs. The abundance and distribution of Macquarie perch has been reduced by the construction of dams on streams, changes to river flow and temperature regimes, siltation of spawning streams and impact of introduced species including trout and redfin. The largest remaining Victorian self-sustaining endemic population of Macquarie perch occurs in Lake Dartmouth. Very few Macquarie perch are taken by recreational fishers in the North East Region.
Murray spiny crayfish (Eustacus armatus)
Murray spiny crayfish (or Murray River crayfish) is the largest of the genus Eustacus of which there are ten known species in Victoria (Geddes 1990). Murray spiny crayfish may reach 3 kilograms and individuals do not reach sexual maturity until they are between 15 to 20 centimetres total length and between six and nine years old.
Larger individuals previously caught in the Murray River may have been between 20–50 years of age, but fishing pressure makes it unlikely that individuals will survive to that age now. In lowland rivers such as the Murray and lowland tributaries, the species constructs burrows in the clay river banks for shelter. In the upland rivers with stony beds, the species tends to use the interstitial spaces between boulders and cobbles on the river bed for shelter.
The Murray spiny crayfish inhabits large and small streams across all management units in the North East Region. The species prefers faster flowing cool water habitats of the main channels of rivers, in contrast to the yabby, which prefers slow warm water and billabongs.
Of the Victorian take of Murray spiny crayfish, almost 20 per cent is caught in the Ovens River in the North East Region (Henry and Lyle 2003). Key Murray spiny crayfish fisheries occur in the Ovens, lower Kiewa and Murray rivers.
The Murray spiny crayfish has been listed as a threatened taxon under the FFG Act and is considered threatened because of its exposure to overfishing and habitat modification to a large part of its range, and egg predation by introduced trout (Horwitz 1990, Yen and Butcher 1997). There has been a documented decline of the species in other States (Geddes 1990) and records of the species support the premise that there has been a reduction in the range of the species within Victoria (Horwitz 1995).
Murray spiny crayfish are exposed to a number of threats associated with stock and supply of water for domestic use and irrigation uses. It is likely to have been severely affected by in-stream alterations on the Murray and other river systems such as desnagging, culverts, weirs and river regulation (Horwitz 2005).
Yabbies (Cherax destructor) are regularly caught by anglers in the North East Region. River blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus and G. bispinosus) are also occasionally caught by fishers in the North East Region.
Commercial fishing activity within the North East Region is limited.
There is no commercial take of native or introduced fish species which have recreational value. Commercial take is limited to bait and noxious species.
Six bait licences presently operate within the North East Region. These licences allow for the harvest of bait species for sale using prescribed commercial fishing equipment. The number of bait licences fluctuates with demand.
Noxious species permits
Four noxious species permits allow commercial operators to fish for carp in the North East Region, with only one permit holder regularly operating in the region.
Current management arrangements
The Aboriginal people of the North East have an intimate relationship with the region which stretches back over thousands of years and continues into the future. The relationship is reflected throughout the region in cultural sites including middens, scarred trees and rock art and is based on a long tradition of stewardship, utilisation and cultural significance. For Aboriginal people, cultural values are intertwined around traditional uses, spiritual connection, ancestral ties and respect for waterways, land and the resources they provide.
Many cultural sites are associated with waterways and during access, recreational anglers and other users may inadvertently cause damage to sites of significance to Aboriginal people.
The Aboriginal people of the North East historically utilised many fishery resources including Murray cod, golden perch and Murray spiny crayfish. In addition to these species, Aboriginal people highlight the value of supporting ecosystems and habitats for these resources, and the importance of factors such as water flow, temperature patterns and snags to the health of fisheries resources.
Aboriginal people acknowledge that significant anthropogenic modifications have occurred in the North East through the construction of impoundments, altered flooding regimes, desnagging and increased visitation. The impact of these changes on habitat diversity, ecosystem integrity and increased pressures on sites of cultural significance concern the Aboriginal people of the North East. The ongoing environmental health of waterways, the sustainable use of fisheries and the management of sites of cultural significance are key objectives for the people of the North East.
A primary goal of the Aboriginal people of the North East is to increase community and government awareness of Aboriginal values and cultural connectedness with 'country' as a tool for greater Aboriginal involvement in the management of the waterways and resources in the region. Aboriginal people wish to build and strengthen partnerships with recreational fishing organisations, government agencies that share interests and responsibilities for the management of these resources.
Information regarding Aboriginal cultural associations and usage of waterways, fisheries and other natural resources arises continually from new research. Where appropriate, this information can be considered by fisheries and land managers working towards the sustainable use of these resources.
All sites of cultural significance and artefacts are protected by the new Aboriginal Heritage Act which is set to commence in May 2007. The Act replaced the Aboriginal cultural regime in Victoria which was governed by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (Commonwealth legislation) and the Archaeological and Aboriginal Relics Preservation Act 1972 (Victoria).
Key features of the new Act include:
- the creation of the Aboriginal Heritage Council with membership consisting of traditional owners who will advise on the protection of Aboriginal heritage
- the use of cultural heritage management plans for certain development plans or activities
- the ability for registered Aboriginal parties to evaluate management plans, advise on permit applications, enter into cultural heritage agreements and negotiate repatriation of Aboriginal human remains
- alternative dispute resolution procedures. Enquiries in relation to registered or noted sites of cultural significance should be directed to Aboriginal Affairs Victoria. Any proposed works or use of Crown land are required to be carried out in accordance with the 'future acts' provision of the Native Title Act 1993, and the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
Fisheries Victoria has been working with Aboriginal community representatives, other Australian fisheries authorities and other fishing stakeholders to develop: a national set of principles and pathways to facilitate definition and lasting recognition of customary fishing practices; increased opportunities for economic engagement of Aboriginal communities in fisheries-related enterprises; and increased Aboriginal participation in all aspects of fisheries use and management.
Following the development of a Victorian customary fishing policy, Fisheries Victoria may consider local actions to provide for customary fishing access in accordance with the agreed national set of principles.
Customary fishing practices by Aboriginal Australians are not currently identified as a distinct type of fishing activity under Victorian fisheries legislation, and non-commercial fishing by Aboriginal Australians, is therefore, treated as recreational fishing. The Fisheries Act 1995 does provide for the issue of permits to facilitate the taking of fish for specified Aboriginal cultural ceremonies or events. Unless exempted or holding a permit issued under the Fisheries Act, Aboriginal Australians are required to hold a recreational fishing licence.
Fisheries Victoria is responsible for ensuring the sustainable use of fisheries resources and seeks to maintain, and where possible improve, recreational fishing opportunities.
The following sections describe the policy, legislative tools, management processes and current controls relevant to recreational fishing in Victoria. These current management arrangements provide a framework for the sustainable management of fisheries resources within the North East Region.
Fisheries Act 1995
The Fisheries Act 1995 (the Act) is administered by the DPI. Fishing activities in all Victorian inland waters are managed under the provisions of the Act and the Fisheries Regulations 1998 (the Regulations).
The Act provides a legislative framework for the regulation and management of Victorian fisheries and for the conservation of fisheries resources, including their supporting aquatic habitats. The objectives of the Act include:
- To provide for the management, development and use of Victoria's fisheries, aquaculture industries and associated aquatic biological resources in an efficient, effective and ecologically sustainable manner.
- To protect and conserve fisheries resources, habitats and ecosystems including the maintenance of aquatic ecological processes and genetic diversity.
- To promote sustainable commercial fishing and viable aquaculture industries and quality recreational fishing opportunities for the benefit of present and future generations.
- To facilitate access to fisheries resources for commercial, recreational, traditional and nonconsumptive uses.
- To encourage the participation of resource users and the community in fisheries management.
The Act provides for the development, implementation and review of fishery management plans; facilitates participation of stakeholders in fisheries management via fisheries co-management arrangements and prescribes enforcement powers to assist in achieving compliance with fishing controls.
The Regulations prescribe detailed management arrangements for individual commercial and recreational fisheries, including licence requirements, restrictions on fishing equipment and methods, restrictions on fishing catch and/or effort (bag limits, size limits, closed seasons/areas), and penalties for breaches of fishing controls.
It is important to note that the provisions of fisheries legislation can only be applied to the control of fishing activities. Other human activities (for example: catchment land use; foreshore management; and competing water-based recreational activities) that may directly or indirectly affect fish habitats, fishery resources or the quality of fishing, are managed by different agencies under a variety of legislation.
Recreational fishing regulations
Fisheries regulations exist to meet the expectations of Victoria's recreational anglers. They ensure fish resources are conserved, their habitats protected and fishing activities are managed so that resource use is sustainable and fishing practices and fisher's behaviour are socially acceptable.
Recreational fishing licence
A Recreational Fishing Licence is required for all forms of recreational fishing in Victorian inland waters. Some sectors of the community, including people under 18 or over 70 years of age, holders of a Victorian Seniors Card, and recipients of various age, disability or veterans benefits, are exempt from the need to hold a licence.
Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account
Revenue from recreational fishing licence fees is spent to improve angling opportunities and fish habitats in Victoria. The Fisheries Resource Allocation Committee (FRAC) which includes representatives of the recreational fishing sector, determines priorities and makes recommendations to the minister responsible for fisheries on how the money should be spent. Every year the Victorian Government, through the Recreational Fish Licence Trust Account, disburses revenue derived from the sale of Recreational Fishing Licences to projects that will improve recreational fishing in Victoria. On average $1.2 million of funding is granted to projects each year.
Grants are allocated to projects in one of four categories:
- recreational fishing access and facilities (but not recreational boating related infrastructure such as boat launching ramps)
- recreational fisheries' sustainability and habitat improvement including fish stocking
- recreational fisheries research
- recreational fisheries-related education, information and training.
Recreational fishing equipment
The Regulations define 'recreational fishing equipment' as including a rod and line, handline, dip/landing net, bait trap, spear gun, hand-held spear, bait pump, recreational bait net and recreational hoop net. Recreational use of any equipment not included in this definition is prohibited in all Victorian inland waters. The number and maximum permitted dimensions of dip nets, bait traps, bait pumps, recreational bait nets and recreational hoop nets are prescribed in the Regulations and summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
All lakes, impoundments, rivers and creeks of the North East Region are classified as 'inland waters' for the purposes of the Regulations. Restrictions on use or possession of recreational fishing equipment in Victorian inland waters are prescribed in the Regulations and summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide. Most notably, anglers are currently restricted to using no more than two lines each in inland waters. The aim of defining fishing equipment is to help provide for an equitable share of the resource.
Size and catch limits
Legal minimum sizes, bag limits, possession limits (in, on or next to fishing waters) and boat/vehicle limits for fin fish and invertebrate species are prescribed in the Regulations and summarised in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide. Further limits may be introduced by a Fisheries Notice when a resource threat is recognised.
Some size and catch limits have been introduced as measures to protect fish stocks from heavy fishing pressure and provide for sustainability for the fishery resource. However, many of these limits have been adopted on ethical or cultural grounds, such as the definition of a reasonable day's take for personal use.
Requirement to land fish in whole or carcass form
For some fish species with high commercial market value there is a requirement to retain captured fish in whole or carcass form until after they have been landed (brought ashore and away from inland waters) in order to ensure compliance with recreational size and catch limits. Fish species required to be landed in whole or carcass form include Murray cod, golden perch, Macquarie perch, eels and Murray spiny crayfish. In the case of fish 'carcass' means a fish which has been scaled and gutted, but has not been headed or filleted.
Salmonid regulations review
In 2004, the minister responsible for fisheries approved the scope of a review of salmonid fishing regulations in Victoria. A stakeholder reference committee (SRC) comprising participants from the Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (VRFish), Fisheries Co-Management Council and Fisheries Victoria was established to perform the review. Stakeholder comments were obtained through a series of regional fishing community meetings.
The SRC considered salmonid fishing regulations including key issues identified in the terms of reference such as the duration and timing of the annual closed season, size limits and the list Family Fishing Lakes. The SRC established a consensus position on each of the issues and provided recommendations to the Minister who has since endorsed changes to the Regulations. The Fisheries (Salmonid) Regulations 2006 came into effect on 6 June 2006. Changes to the Regulations included an additional 24 lakes in the schedule of waters managed as Family Fishing Lakes With respect to the North East region; the change involved renaming the small waters as Family Fishing Lakes (Appendix 3). . A total of more than 50 lakes are now managed as Family Fishing Lakes and will be stocked with 'ready to catch fish' in the lead up to the June and September school holidays (subject to suitable water levels). The SRC recommended that other salmonid fishing regulations remain unchanged.
Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988
The Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act) is administered by the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE). The FFG Act provides an administrative structure to enable and promote the conservation of Victoria's native flora and fauna and to provide for a choice of procedures which can be used for the conservation, management or control of flora and fauna and the management of potentially threatening processes.
The FFG Act provides for the listing of species, communities or threatening processes.
Following the listing of a species, community or threatening process, Action Statements are prepared to identify what has been done to conserve the species and what will be done in the future. They provide background information about the species, including its description, distribution, habitat, life history, the reasons for its decline and the threats which affect it.
Action Statements are designed to apply for three to five years, after which time they are reviewed and updated www.depi.vic.gov.au. Implementation of Action Statements are the primary responsibility of the DSE, with input from other stakeholders. Within the North East Region the following recreational fish species have been listed as Threatened under the FFG Act: Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica), Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii), and Murray spiny crayfish (Euastacus armatus). An FFG Action statement has been completed for Murray spiny crayfish.
Species that are listed as threatened under the FFG Act can only be taken or kept by recreational fishers if authorised by Order of Governor in Council (GIC Order) in accordance with the FFG Act. The GIC Order specifies the species that can be taken and includes conditions such as gear restrictions, seasonal closures, closed waters, size and bag limits. These conditions reflect those in the Fisheries Regulations. With respect to the North East Region, a GIC Order is in place for Murray cod, Macquarie perch and Murray spiny crayfish.
This legislative tool is considered the most appropriate method of management to achieve optimum ESD outcomes for these species.
Heritage Rivers Act 1992 and National Parks Act 1975
The Heritage Rivers Act 1992 and the National Parks Act 1975, administered by DSE, provide guidance in relation to the protection of biodiversity in considering translocations in inland waters. In summary, the introduction of non-native fauna is not permitted in natural catchment areas, as defined in the Heritage Rivers Act 1992, National Parks, State Parks and Wilderness Parks as defined in the National Parks Act.
The two Heritage Rivers within the North East Region are the Lower Ovens River from Killawarra to Lake Mulwala and the Upper Mitta Mitta from Glen Valley to the tail waters of Dartmouth Dam.
Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) is administered by the Commonwealth Department of the Environment and Water Resources. The EPBC Act provides for the identification of key threatening processes and the protection of critical habitat. The Act also promotes the conservation of biodiversity and provides for the protection of listed species, protected areas and communities in Commonwealth areas.
Under the EPBC Act, the Commonwealth Minister for the Environment and Water Resources may make or adopt and implement recovery plans for threatened fauna, threatened flora (other than conservation dependent species) and threatened ecological communities listed under the Act. Recovery plans set out the research and management actions necessary to stop the decline of, and support the recovery of, listed threatened species or threatened ecological communities. The aim of a recovery plan is to maximise the long term survival in the wild of a threatened species or ecological community.
Recovery plans state what must be done to protect and restore important populations of threatened species and habitat, as well as how to manage and reduce threatening processes. Recovery plans achieve this aim by providing a planned and logical framework for key interest groups and responsible government agencies to coordinate their work to improve the plight of threatened species and/or ecological communities.
Within the North East Region, the following freshwater fish species have been listed as vulnerable or endangered under the EPBC Act: trout cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), Murray cod and Macquarie perch. A review of the previously adopted trout cod recovery plan commenced in 2005 and new draft recovery plans for all three species are currently in preparation.
Victorian Government policy
Ecologically sustainable development
All Australian governments, including Victoria, have made a commitment to manage fisheries according to the principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD). These principles include:
- ensuring that fishing is carried out in a biologically and ecologically sustainable manner
- ensuring that there is equity within and between generations regarding the use of fish resources
- maximising economic and social benefits to the community from fisheries within the constraints of sustainable utilisation * adopting a precautionary approach to management – particularly for fisheries with limited data
- ensuring that the processes and procedures involved in management of a fishery are appropriate, transparent and inclusive.
There is an expectation in Australia and worldwide that utilisation of fish resources will be managed according to these ESD principles, and these principles have been incorporated into the NEFMP.
Fisheries Victoria's Strategic Direction
Fisheries Victoria manages fisheries resources by developing and implementing policies and projects and delivering a wide range of services. The objectives of fisheries management are changing with community expectations; previously, fisheries were managed for maximum yields and providing for maximum jobs. Fisheries are now managed for maximum sustainable yield and viable industries. Management has moved from being reactive to more adaptive and proactive and is now focussed on securing a high quality natural resource base for the long term as well as generating jobs and other economic and social benefits in local communities.
Fisheries Victoria's role is delivered in the context of increasing competition for water and for access to fisheries resources, as well as increasing pressure on fish habitats as a result of other uses in the catchments. With this in mind, the establishment of clear directions for Fisheries Victoria is critical to the maintenance and effective management of the state's fisheries.
Fisheries Victoria's vision of success is to develop and manage Victoria's fisheries resources within an ecologically sustainable development (ESD) framework to ensure fish now and for the future. Securing fisheries resources is about demonstrating sustainability, sharing the fish means allocating fisheries resources in the public interest and growing the value is about having viable fishing industries. (See Figure 2).
Figure 2. The Fisheries Victoria vision of success
Fisheries Victoria's vision and directions underpin its projects, policies and services. Fisheries Victoria's vision and strategic directions will be achieved with the cooperation and support of the community, industry and other government agencies. They will also be achieved within the legislative framework established by the Act and the Regulations.
Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management
Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) describes and implements the ecological objectives of ESD. An ESD approach provides for broader economic, social and environmental factors to be considered in decision-making for fisheries management and is reflected in the objectives of the Fisheries Act.
The objective of EBFM is to sustain healthy fish resources and the ecosystems on which they depend. Applying an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management involves the consideration of the cumulative impacts of human activities (including fishing) on the ecosystems that support our fisheries resources.
EBFM recognises that excessive fishing activity can be a threat to our aquatic resources (through stock depletion and/or decreased biodiversity), but, in some cases, environmental variability and landbased activities may be more important in determining the sustainability of fish stocks. An ecosystem-based approach recognises the uncertainty that characterises our knowledge of fisheries and supporting ecosystems and allows for this uncertainty by applying a risk-based approach with evidence-based decision making where knowledge is incomplete.
Fundamental to EBFM is a commitment to adaptive management. This means that management of human and other activities is modified in response to the performance of fisheries and ecosystem indicators, which show the effectiveness of current management arrangements. Management arrangements are also modified in response to improved knowledge, changes in societal values and technological developments.
Fisheries Victoria undertakes a risk-based approach to implement EBFM so that the highest risks to fisheries and/or supporting ecosystems are addressed as a priority.
Policy implementation tools
Fishery co-management arrangements
Co-management is a participatory arrangement that brings industry, community and government together to participate in the management of a natural resource. It assists those involved by improving their collective understanding of individual stakeholder needs and aspirations and by identifying behavioural modifications that can increase the long term viability of the resource and, therefore, continued access to that resource by user groups.
The co-management of fisheries within Victoria is a process involving three entities. The first comprises the peak bodies, including VRFish.
The second entity comprises the Fisheries Co- Management Council (FCC) and its expertisebased committees.
Finally, the third entity is the government agencies, including the DPI of which Fisheries Victoria is a division.
The above co-management entities will ensure that the fisheries interests are appropriately represented and considered during consultation processes regarding decisions that may impact on the fishery.
Regional recreational fisheries consultation meetings
The release or stocking of fish into inland waters is recognised as a fisheries management tool, to create, maintain and or enhance recreational fisheries. Fish are routinely released throughout Victoria every year for this purpose.
The DPI holds annual consultative meetings (CONS) each year as a forum to discuss fish stocking, fish population surveys and other related recreational fisheries management issues.
Meetings include representatives from Fisheries Victoria (DPI), the DSE, the DPI Science, Water Management Authorities, Catchment Management Authorities, VRFish, the FCC and other stakeholders as required. The meetings aim to:
- review the current stocking plan and identify necessary modifications
- draft the stocking plan for the coming year
- identify management questions to be answered by stock or catch assessments
- identify current fishery management issues.
Appendix 4 provides a list of fish stockings for the past year (2005-2006) for the North East Region.
Translocation of live aquatic organisms poses an ecological risk through the potential transmission of diseases, potential impacts on biodiversity from changes in genetic integrity and direct competition, and the establishment of feral and or exotic populations (DPI 2003).
The Victorian Government has developed Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria 2003 (DPI 2003) to meet its obligations under the National Policy for the Translocation of Live Aquatic Organisms 1999 (MCFFA 1999). This commonwealth policy requires all states in Australia to develop assessment measures for the translocation of aquatic organisms, including fish.
Stocking proposals in public and private waters will be assessed in accordance with the Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria (Translocation Guidelines) and any associated protocols approved by the Secretary, DPI.
To ensure that existing fish stocking programs, and new proposals which have manageable risks, can proceed without the need for individual risk assessments, protocols for public water stockings have now been developed. The Protocols for the Translocation of Fish in Victorian Inland Public Waters (Protocols) will ensure consistency with the Translocation Guidelines. Importantly, fish stocking proposals that meet the criteria outlined in the new protocols will not require an individual risk assessment. An important component of the Protocols are the policy statements relating to stocking of salmonids and native species. These statements determine where and what species Fisheries Victoria stock.
In order to assess a proposed translocation, consideration is given to the potential hazards, the likelihood of the hazard occurring and consequences of that hazard. The risks that may arise as a result of translocations are outlined in the Guidelines. The risks are assessed in terms of:
- The likelihood and consequences of escape and or release
- The likelihood and consequences of survival
- The likelihood and consequences of establishment of a feral population.
More information on the Translocation Guidelines and associated Protocols can be obtained from the DPI website: www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing/.
Management of non-fisheries issues
Scientific opinion agrees that the threat posed by climate change will become more severe over the coming decades (IPCC 2007). The CSIRO has identified future climate projections for Victoria including reduced rainfall, increased temperatures, more frequent El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events, more heatwaves and fewer frosts and increased frequency of severe weather events, e.g. storms and high-risk bushfire days (DPI 2006).
Summers in the North East Region range from mild in the mountains (average maximum temperatures of 20 to 25 °C) to hot in the northwest (more than 30 °C).Winters are milder in the valleys and on the plains (average maximum temperatures of 12 to 14 °C), but cold in the mountains (10 °C and less). Frost is common throughout the region and there is snow in the mountains. Annual rainfall averaged across the region is 1160 mm and is commonly above 1500 mm in the mountains. Precipitation is highest in the winter half of the year.
The future climate in the North Region is expected to be drier and warmer than it is presently with a predicted annual warming of 0.3 to 1.6 °C by 2030 and 0.8 to 5 °C by 2070. Annual precipitation is likely to decrease and extreme heavy rainfall events are likely to become more intense. Droughts are likely to become more frequent and longer, particularly in winter-spring. Dry conditions that currently occur on average one in every five winter-springs may increase to up to one in three years by 2030. Runoff into streams is likely to decrease and hotter, drier conditions are likely to increase bushfire risk (DSE 2004).
In addition to pressure due to water availability, species adapted to the highest elevations and coldest environments will have nowhere to retreat to as the climate warms (DSE 2004). Fisheries resources such as trout and Macquarie perch which prefer cooler water temperatures may experience reductions in available habitat and therefore suffer reduced viability in previously suitable areas. Reduced flows could affect river connectivity and reduce spawning cues for fish and have a deleterious effect on other aquatic organisms on which fisheries resources depend.
Climate change is identified as strategic priority for action in the Victorian Government's Growing Victoria Together (2005) policy statement and the Victorian Greenhouse Strategy action plan outlines actions the Government is taking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as to improve understanding of the impacts of climate change. The DPI has developed an Action Agenda on Climate Change and Greenhouse which outlines adaptation strategies including improving understanding of the likely climate change impacts on inland fisheries in Victoria and using this information to assist fisheries management and inform recreational anglers (DPI 2006).
Catchment and waterway management
The integrated management of all natural assets in the North East Region occurs under the direction provided by the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994 (CLP Act). The Victorian Catchment Management Framework was developed to maintain and enhance land and water resources. Under the CLP Act the North East Catchment Management Authority (North East CMA) has the responsibility to prepare a Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) for the Region and to coordinate and monitor its implementation.
The North East Regional Catchment Strategy 2003- 2007 is the primary planning framework for land, water and biodiversity in the region and is an overarching strategic document under which various action plans and strategies sit. The North East Regional River Health Strategy, Regional Floodplain and Drainage Management Strategy, Salinity Strategy, Roadside Management Strategy, Weed management, Soil Health Strategy, Rabbit Action Plans and Native Vegetation Strategy also provide strategic direction on individual issues.
The North East CMA has waterway management, rural drainage and floodplain management roles and responsibilities as defined in the Water Act 1989.
Under the White Paper Securing Our Water Future, CMAs are appointed as the community caretaker of rivers and water resources. The North East CMA will be responsible for the operational management of the Environmental Water Reserve (EWR) and provide input into the production of the Northern Sustainable Water Strategy on priorities for enhancement of the EWR.
Sustainable Water Strategy
As part of the Our Water Our Future action plan, five regional Sustainable Water Strategies will be created to plan for water security across Victoria. The Northern Victoria Region Sustainable Water Strategy (SWS) will aim to secure water supplies for homes, business, industry, agriculture and environment for the next fifty years.
The SWS will be responsive to changing water needs and will include actions to ensure sufficient water supplies in the event of continued low inflows to reservoirs, as experienced over the past ten years.
The SWS for the Northern Victorian Region will consider all water sources including rivers, reservoirs, aquifers as well as recycled water and storm water.
Key objectives of the SWS will include:
- Protecting and where necessary, improve the health of aquifers and rivers.
- Making best use of water resources locally and throughout the region
- Understanding the implications of climate change and being prepared for a range of possible future scenarios.
North East Regional River Health Strategy
The North East Regional River Health Strategy (NERRHS) has been prepared to provide broad level strategic direction for the future management of waterways in the North East CMA area. The Strategy, which has a five-year life-span, will be used to guide Government investment and, regionally will direct the development of an annual works program. The NERRHS sits jointly under the North East Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) and the Victorian River Health Strategy (VRHS). It provides the necessary link between the objectives of the State and the objectives of our community and is an integral part of the Victorian legislative framework to protect the State's waterways (NECMA 2004).
The NERRHS combines all elements of river management under one umbrella document. It integrates river health programs into a multidisciplinary framework and considers water quality and quantity, flow, in-stream and riparian flora and fauna, fisheries and recreation (NECMA 2004).
Fishing is listed as a social value in the Strategy; therefore many of the actions listed will have positive outcomes for recreational fishing.
The North East CMA has developed a number of resource condition targets that are relevant to the NEFMP. These targets include:
- enabling better fish migration into the King River from the Lower Ovens River by improving fish passage through Wangaratta Weir
- investigation of opportunities to provide fish passage through Dartmouth Dam
- investigation of the feasibility of fish passage at Lake Buffalo.
The Strategy has been endorsed by the North East CMA Board and the Minister for Environment.
The National Management Strategy for Carp Control (MDBC 2000) is the key policy driver and outlines strategies which aim to:
- prevent the spread of carp
- reduce the impacts of carp to acceptable levels
- promote environmentally and socially acceptable application of carp control programs
- improve community understanding of the impacts of carp and the management strategies
- promote the cost efficient use of public resources in carp eradication and control programs.
At a state level, the Victorian Pest Management - A Framework for Action (VPMF) (DNRE 2002) sets out the guiding principles of how pests will be managed in Victoria. The VPMF provides a mechanism for considering terrestrial and aquatic (freshwater and marine) weed, and vertebrate and invertebrate pest management in Victoria. There is scope for other declared noxious aquatic species to be considered by the VPMF.
The North East CMA have a strategic action in the River Health Strategy to reduce the abundance of carp in the Ovens River and community engagement priority actions of encouraging carp eradication programs.
Management and regulation of water
The movement, regulation and delivery of water resources from rivers, lakes and groundwater supplies are overseen by a number of public and private stakeholders within the North East Region.
Goulburn-Murray Water (G-MW) operates and regulates the rural water supply system throughout the North East Region.
On behalf of the Murray Darling Basin Commission (MDBC), G-MW is responsible for the management of water conservancy and supply on the regulated rivers within the North East Region. Water from Lake Dartmouth on the Mitta Mitta River catchment is released to meet consumptive and environmental entitlements in Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia. G-MW is solely responsible for the management of water conservancy and supply from Lake Buffalo and Lake William Hovell in the Ovens River and King River catchments.
G-MW is obliged by the Murray Darling Basin Agreement (MDBA) and the Bulk Water Entitlements (BEs) it holds, to release passing flows from its reservoirs to meet downstream environmental needs and consumptive releases to meet the needs of primary entitlements held by irrigators, stock and domestic users and urban water authorities. The BEs specify the volumes and timing of passing flows.
Consumptive releases are determined by orders placed by primary entitlement holders and urban water authorities. G-MW also has delegated ministerial responsibilities for the supervision of licensed diversions (private pumping) waterways and groundwater throughout the North East Region.
The New South Wales Government operates Lake Hume at the junction of the Murray and Mitta Mitta Rivers. G-MW's role on this reservoir is limited to management of the foreshore down to actual water level on the Victorian side.
Environmental Water Reserve
The Water Act 1989 establishes the Environmental Water Reserve (EWR) as the legal share of water for the environment. The aim of the EWR is to provide a specific entitlement for the environment which can be used to help achieve environmental objectives. These objectives may include protection, or enhancement of fish populations.
The EWR may be maintained or enhanced in unregulated river catchments through the preparation of Stream Flow Management Plans or in regulated river catchments through either specific Environmental Entitlements (bulk entitlements for the environment) or conditions on existing Bulk Entitlements such as those outlined in Table 1.
Stream Flow Management Plans
The purpose of Stream Flow Management Plans (SFMPs) is to provide for a balanced and sustainable sharing of stream flows between water users. SFMPs set out clear objectives and actions and aim to provide a negotiated EWR that provides for the long term health of the river. The plans emphasise water sharing between consumptive users and the environment during periods of flow stress. SFMPs develop rules for how licences are managed to meet agreed objectives developed by a community based consultative committee.
Stream Flow Management Plans are being developed for Upper Ovens and Kiewa rivers in the North East Region.
Urban water services
The regional urban water authority is North East Water which is responsible for providing water and sewerage services to 36 towns, villages and cities in the North East Region, serving an estimated population of 95,000 people in an area of approximately 20,000 square kilometres. North East Water operates twenty nine separate water supply systems throughout the region that draw water supply from a wide range of sources including groundwater, reservoirs and directly from rivers and streams.
There are a number of hydro-electric power companies responsible for management of water through renewable energy power generation assets in the North East Region. Hydro-electric power stations are situated on Dartmouth Dam, Hume Dam and Lake William Hovell and the Upper Kiewa River catchment and are operated by private companies.
The management controls within the North East Region's rivers are outlined in Table 1.
Murray Darling Basin Commission
The MDBA for the co-operative management of the natural resources of the region, has been signed by the governments of the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The Agreement was initiated by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council in 1987 and has been administered by the MDBC since 1994.
Under the Murray-Darling Basin Initiative, the signatories of the MDBA along with the associated communities are working together to develop and implement long-term, strategic, coordinated responses to environmental and economic threats in the region.
Examples of natural resource management issues which the MDBC are dealing with include The Living Murray Initiative, Integrated Catchment Management (ICM), and implementation of the MDB Cap on diversions, water trading, native fish and salinity management.
Across the North East Region there are eight local government bodies: Towong Shire, Wodonga City, Indigo Shire, Wangaratta Rural City, Alpine Shire and parts of the East Gippsland and Moira shires.
Local government manages a range of issues that can impact fisheries resources and recreational fishing opportunities. Applications for planning permits, review of planning overlays and zones, and the maintenance of roads and tracks can all have an impact on angler access to fisheries resources, and the habitats that support these resources. Local government also has a role in implementing environmental programs (for example, weed management on land they control) and engaging community groups in natural resource management projects.
Table 1. North East Region River Management Controls
|Murray||Goulburn-Murray Water|| Bulk Entitlement (River Murray – G-MW)|
|Kiewa|| Australian Gas Light Company|
(previously Southern Hydro)
| Bulk Entitlement (Kiewa – Southern|
Hydro Ltd Pty) Conversion Order
|Kiewa||Australian Gas Light Company|| Bulk Entitlement (Bogong Village)|
|Kiewa||Australian Gas Light Company||Licence under the National Parks Act 1975|
|Kiewa||Australian Gas Light Company|| Memorandum of Understanding|
regarding Environmental Performance
with the Environment Protection
Authority Victoria (EPA Victoria)
|Ovens||Goulburn-Murray Water|| Bulk Entitlement (Ovens System – GMW)|
Preparation of the North East Fishery Management Plan
The NEFMP was prepared by Fisheries Victoria, assisted by a steering committee comprising key stakeholders including the VRFish, the FCC, the North East CMA, Aboriginal interests, the DSE, GMW and the DPI.
The role of the steering committee was to advise the Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria, DPI, with respect to the conformance of the NEFMP with the requirements of the Fisheries Act 1995 and the Ministerial guidelines, and to respond to community consultation on the draft NEFMP. A list of the steering committee members is provided in Appendix 1.
The process for developing the management plan includes the following steps:
- Public meetings to identify recreational fishing values and issues across the region
- Fisheries Victoria conducts an issues identification workshop with input from the North East CMA
- Steering committee meetings to evaluate issues and options for addressing those issues identified through public meetings and the issues identification workshop
- Preparation of a draft management plan addressing the issues identified and developing the options for dealing with the issues
- Providing the public and stakeholders with an opportunity to comment on the draft management plan
- Finalisation of the draft management plan following stakeholder submissions
- Declaration of the management plan in the Victorian Government Gazette.
The first step in the development of the NEFMP was to seek the views of recreational fishers and other community interests, regarding values and issues associated with fishing in the lakes and rivers of the North East Region.
In February 2006, public meetings were held at Corryong, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Melbourne to canvass the views of the community. Information was sought to determine:
- the species of fish most important for recreational fishing across the inland North East Region
- factors the community believes are limiting their ability to target or catch these species
- opportunities to enhance recreational fishing across the inland North East Region.
- More than 170 people attended the four public meetings. Participants included representatives from angling clubs, non-club members who actively fish and other members of the public with a general interest in local resource management issues.
A total of 246 written submissions were also received. This information helped to guide the drafting of the NEFMP so that it had a strong focus on addressing fishing-related issues that matter to recreational fishers and the local community.
An overview of some of the feedback received, included:
- In the upland waterways, the most popular angling species was trout (both brown and rainbow). Some anglers requested new regulations for trout including modified closed seasons/areas, size/bag limits and lure-only waters. Some anglers also reported small catches of Macquarie perch in Lake Dartmouth.
- In lowland waters, the most popular angling species were Murray cod, golden perch and redfin. Some anglers also reported some bycatch of trout cod in the Ovens River.
- In midland waterways, the popularity of recreational fishery species reflected the mix of native, trout and redfin species found in this management unit and anglers expressed preferences for all species in this region.
- Some anglers requested more fish stocking in a bid to improve fishing opportunities, although other anglers recognised that environmental and habitat constraints can limit the carrying capacity of waterways.
- There was concern regarding in-stream, riparian and surrounding habitats and recognition of the importance of the condition of these habitats to fisheries resources. While anglers understood the reasons for willow removal, some areas were identified where large-scale removal had caused temporary changes to water temperature and habitat suitability for trout.
- Variable and low water flows are impacting on the recreational fishing potential in many rivers and some impoundments in the region. While most anglers accept that low flows are a result of reduced rainfall in recent years, some indicated that water diversions and flow variability in rivers such as the Kiewa are having an impact on fishing activities and suggested that these arrangements be reviewed.
- Poor water quality was identified as a significant issue limiting recreational fishing opportunities and anglers recognised the potential influence that broader catchment activities can have on fisheries resources. Anglers expressed the view that the management of these issues is as important as direct management of fish stocks to the future sustainability of fisheries.
- Anglers were concerned about access to waterways in parts of the region where fishing opportunities are curtailed by private property, poor condition or closure of tracks or a general lack of information regarding the status of land and its ability to be legally accessed by the general public. Some anglers suggested methods including signage and stiles to improve access to fishing opportunities
- Anglers were generally concerned about carp populations in the region, but a small number of anglers accepted their value as a recreational target species for beginners and others believed that carp populations were decreasing overall.
Appendix 6 further describes the list of issues summarised above and includes the policies, process and responsible agencies and references to NEFMP sections where appropriate.
North East Fishery Management Plan
Scope of plan
The overall purpose of the NEFMP is to formalise management arrangements for the North East Region in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Ministerial guidelines and the national Fisheries ESD Reporting Framework.
To this end the NEFMP specifies goals, objectives, strategies and actions for management of fisheries resources across the North East Region.
The NEFMP builds on community feedback and identifies the most valued recreational fishing assets in the Region and describes the highest priority strategies and actions to mitigate issues/risks that could impact on these fishing assets.
The NEFMP also identifies recommended actions by stakeholders and other management agencies to ensure that processes for management of other values and uses of the Region's waterways includes identification and minimisation of potential adverse impacts on fish habitat and fisheries.
The NEFMP contains a section describing research and monitoring information needed to address the identified management objectives and performance indicators; a section outlining compliance with fishing controls in the region; and a section describing implementation and future review processes.
Definition of the fishery
As gazetted on 31 March 2006, the NEFMP will provide management direction for fishing activities across the inland area administered by the North East CMA. This area includes all inland waterways (lakes and rivers) in the Kiewa, Ovens and Upper Murray Basins.
Regulation 107 of the Regulations describes all inland waters in Victoria as a fishery by virtue of the use of recreational fishing equipment. Recreational fishing equipment relevant to the waterways in the NEFMP includes a rod and line, handline, dip net, bait trap, landing net, and recreational hoop net. Up-to-date information on permitted recreational fishing equipment can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
The North East Fishery, for the purposes of this plan, does not include commercial bait fishing as this is managed through commercial licensing processes for bait.
The North East Fishery is therefore defined as all recreational fishing activities in waters within the geographical boundaries of the North East CMA region.
Duration of the plan
The NEFMP will provide the basis for the management of the North East Fishery for a period of five years.
Review of the management plan
Review of the NEFMP and preparation of a new NEFMP will commence twelve months prior to the scheduled expiry of the NEFMP. The review will examine all aspects of fisheries management against the defined goals, performance indicators and targets, and will examine the need for new or amended objectives as a result of monitoring and research information obtained.
Should there be a need for the Minister to amend the NEFMP prior to this review, notice of this intention will be published in the Victoria Government Gazette and there will be formal consultation with stakeholder groups.
Requirements of the Fisheries Act 1995
The Act stipulates that a fishery management plan must:
- define the fishery to which it relates
- be consistent with the objectives of the Fisheries Act 1995 and with any Ministerial guidelines issued with respect to the preparation of the management plan
- include the management objectives of the management plan
- specify the management tools and any other measures to be used to achieve the objectives of the plan
- include guidelines for the criteria to be used in respect of the issue of licences and permits and in respect of the renewal, variation or transfer of licences
- as far as is known, identify critical components of the ecosystem relevant to the plan and current or potential threats to those components, and existing or proposed preventative measures
- specify performance indicators, targets and monitoring methods
- as far as relevant and practicable, identify any other biological, ecological, social and economic factors relevant to the fishery covered by the plan, including its current status, human uses and economic value; measures to minimise its impact on non-target species and the environment; research needs and priorities; the resources required to implement the plan.
The Act also indicates that each management plan may:
- specify the manner in which fishing capacity is to be measured and the fishing capacity so measured
- specify the duration of the management plan * specify procedures and conditions for review of the plan
- include any other relevant matters.
Additional direction on the development of the NEFMP has been provided by the gazettal of Ministerial guidelines on 31 March 2006 (see Appendix 5).
Management goal and objectives
The goal of the NEFMP is to manage recreational fisheries resources in the North East Region in accordance with ESD principles. This includes identifying the habitats and aquatic environments on which fisheries resources depend, and enhancing the social and economic benefits to all Victorians.
- Biological - To conserve and ensure sustainable use of key fish stocks across the North East Fishery.
- Social - To maintain and where possible enhance recreational fishing opportunities across the North East Fishery.
- Environmental - To promote protection of the habitats and environments which are essential for production or maintenance of fisheries resources across the North East Fishery.
- Governance - To achieve maximum community participation, understanding and support for the management of fisheries resources across the North East Fishery.
More detailed accounts of the strategies, management actions, performance indicators, targets and information needed to address each of these objectives are provided in the following sections and are summarised in Appendix 7.
Performance indicators are provided for actions that Fisheries Victoria has responsibility for implementing. These indicators provide a means of tracking progress on an ongoing basis.
As part of the ongoing implementation of the management plan, performance indicators may be further refined using data from monitoring programs and surveys.
Performance indicators are not provided for actions that other agencies are responsible for implementing. VRFish representatives requested a performance indicator and target for the action for which they have responsibility under Strategy 2.
Targets provide a longer-term measure for the Objectives of the NEFMP. Targets should be achieved through the successful implementation of the NEFMP.
Identification and prioritisation of strategies
During the development of the NEFMP, the risks to the biological, environmental, social and governance components of the fishery were considered in accordance with the principles of ESD.
Nine strategies have been identified to address the goal of managing fisheries resources in the North East Fishery in accordance with the principles of ESD. The Strategies were identified as a result of the Planning Process outlined on page 21.
The nine strategies fit into three broad themes reflecting the objectives of the NEFMP, while the Governance objective is addressed through the planning process, and the implementation and reporting against the NEFMP.
The themes are presented under the following chapters in the NEFMP: Sustainable Use of Fish Resources (Biological objectives); Recreational Fishing Opportunities (Social objectives); and Maintenance of Fish Habitat (Environmental objectives).
The biological objective considers the sustainability of harvesting fish species and ecosystem components such as bait, bycatch and impacts on non-target fish species. The risk of impacts to most ecosystem components was
The NEFMP addresses the biological objective through Strategy 1 which requires the collection of information that will demonstrate the harvest of trout, Murray cod, Macquarie perch and Murray spiny crayfish is sustainable.
The social objective considers the economic and social benefits that recreational fishing provides to the North East Fishery.
The key recreational fish species, including trout, redfin, Murray cod, golden perch and Murray spiny crayfish, draw many visitors to the North East Region and provide significant economic and social value to Victoria.
The following strategies address the social objective:
- Strategy 2 and 3 – classification of waters and quantification of the social and economic benefits of alternative fishing regulations for trout
- Strategy 4 and 5 – Maintain the stock enhanced fishery in the region, and provide new fishing opportunities for native fish, in recognition of the increased economic and social value that stock-enhanced fisheries can provide
- Strategy 6 – monitoring of fishery management and stocking success within Lake Hume
- Strategy 7 – opportunities to improve access to fisheries resources.
The environmental objective considers the influence of habitat and environment factors such as catchment and riparian activities affecting water quality, water extraction affecting water levels and flows in rivers and dams, and weirs that act as a barrier to fish migration.
Although the potential risks associated with these processes are significant for fisheries resources in the North East Region, these components are primarily managed by agencies other than Fisheries Victoria. For this reason, Strategy 9 aims to provide appropriate information on the environment and habitat requirements of fisheries resources to the North East CMA and water authorities to assist them with management.
A key component of this objective is the implementation of the NEFMP and the public participation in the development of the NEFMP through public meetings, submissions and through the stakeholder steering committee. The actions, performance measures and targets for each strategy for which Fisheries Victoria is responsible, combined with the annual reporting against these performance measures, aims to address the Governance objective of the NEFMP.
More detailed accounts of the strategies, management actions, performance indicators, targets and information needed to address each of these objectives are provided in the following sections and are summarised in Appendix 7.
Sustainable use of fish resources
Strategy 1 - Demonstrate the sustainable use of key recreational fish species
An objective of the NEFMP is to ensure the sustainable use of fisheries resources.
Managing the sustainable use of key recreational species requires a basic understanding of the likely stock structures of fish populations, the fishing pressure being exerted on them, and an understanding of broader environmental impacts on recruitment. This information can then assist resource managers in making decisions on management controls used to actively regulate the sustainable use of recreational fishery species. The key recreational introduced fishery species in the North East Region are redfin and trout. Redfin are widespread, breed regularly, readily recolonise depleted waters and are presently not vulnerable to overfishing. The public consultation process identified concerns from anglers that in addition to fluctuations in trout abundance caused by habitat and environment conditions, trout may be vulnerable to overfishing in localised circumstances.
The key native fishery species in the North East Region include Murray cod, golden perch, Murray spiny crayfish and yabbies. Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and Macquarie perch are all listed as threatened under the FFG Act and recreational fishing is provided for through a GIC Order. Demonstrating that the recreational take of these species is sustainable is a high priority for Fisheries Victoria.
Current regulations for Macquarie perch provide for a bag limit of one in Lake Dartmouth in the North East Region. Although the recreational take of Macquarie perch is small, anecdotal reports received through the public consultation process indicated that the species may be experiencing overfishing.
Golden perch are extensively stocked across the region, while yabbies are widespread, breed regularly, and readily recolonise depleted waters. The Regulations manage recreational fishing take and redfin, yabbies and golden perch are not presently vulnerable to overfishing. As such, strategies and actions to monitor the sustainable harvest of these fishery species are not described in the NEFMP. The future vulnerability of these species to overfishing will be considered through ongoing statewide fishery management processes.
Surveys to gather fishery data are costly. There is a need to prioritise monitoring programs to focus on key recreational fish species considered potentially at risk from overfishing. Trout, Murray cod, Macquarie perch and Murray spiny crayfish are the four species in North East Region considered to be most at threat from overfishing. Further information is required to assess whether fishery management arrangements are appropriate for these species.
Information collection is a key focus of the actions in Strategy 1. Where anecdotal or other information sources raise concerns regarding the sustainability of the recreational harvest of fishery species, Fisheries Victoria has a number of adaptive management tools available which may be employed to safeguard stocks while data is collected through the monitoring program.
Trout is an icon species in the North East Region and is extremely popular as a recreational angling species. Trout are stocked in several lakes and impoundments in the North East Region. In streams, trout fisheries are based on self-sustaining wild populations.
Anecdotal information obtained from verbal and written submissions during the two phases of public consultation in February and October 2006 indicated that some anglers were concerned that too many trout were being taken in some locations.
Monitoring of fish stocks assists fishery managers in making appropriate management decisions. Fishery independent monitoring programs are already in place in accordance with the outcomes determined at the annual North East Regional Recreational Fisheries Consultation meetings.
Additional data on trout populations can also be collected by anglers themselves. A cost-effective and efficient fishery monitoring technique for recreational target species is through a research angler diary program.
Information collected from a research angler diary program over a number of years can provide fishery managers with scientifically valid information on catch and effort rates of the target species. This information can be used as a basis for reviewing the appropriateness of current fishing regulations.
This ongoing program will rely on experienced and highly skilled volunteer anglers undertaking research angling trips targeting trout in accordance with prescribed methods. Fishing location and technique are varied within the identified rivers to ensure a representative sample of the stock of a targeted species in the waterway is sampled. The program will collect information on abundance, length and age (through the removal and aging of otoliths).
Priority will be given to establishing research angler diarists specifically targeting trout in the Kiewa River as a Premier River (See page 5) and other rivers identified through VRFish consultation outlined in Strategy 3.
Information from research angler diaries, angling club records, creel surveys may also be used when undertaking reviews of data collected from the research angler diary program.Action
Fisheries Victoria to seek funding from the Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account or other sources to implement a trout research angler diary program in at least one river in the North East Fishery.
A research angler diary program is in place in at least one river in the North East Fishery.
The recreational harvest of trout is sustainably managed in response to information collected from monitoring programs including research angler diaries.
Murray cod is Australia's highest profile native freshwater fish species. It was a major target of commercial inland fishers until these fisheries were closed in recent years. Murray cod is the subject of recreational fisheries throughout the Murray Darling Basin and the fishery is based on both wild and stocked populations.
In the Draft Native Fish Strategy for the Murray– Darling 2002–2012, the MDBC outlined a number of initiatives directly relevant to Murray cod. Murray cod was listed as a priority for research at an FCC research strategy meeting and the need for a project has been identified.
Murray cod are also listed as a Nationally Threatened species under the EPBC Act and a National Recovery Plan for the species is currently in preparation.
There is strong anecdotal evidence from recent recreational fishing reports that Murray cod abundance is increasing in some areas. Over the last 70 years, the species has undergone a decline in range and abundance in all major tributaries of the Murray River in Victoria (Cadwallader and Gooley 1984; Koehn 2005a).
While environmental changes are considered the main cause of the substantial decline in abundance of Murray Cod (National Murray Cod Recovery Team 2006), recreational fishing in some areas may be leading to an unstable population structure (Nicol et al. 2005). Current fishing regulations mean that recreational angling is unlikely to constitute a significant impact on the species.
Information such as an assessment of recruitment, mortality of different age classes, and the level of take, especially of large adults would assist management for recovery (Koehn 2005b). The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) have recently approved an application for funding of a project to assess the sustainability of recreational fisheries for Murray cod in the Murray darling basin.
The project aims to gather information including:
- additional data on gross angler harvest including detailed information on catch from individual rivers or basins.
- data to determine whether current size limits allow enough mature fish to remain in the population to provide natural recruitment sufficient to sustain the fishery.
- further information on release survival, to assist in the development of stock assessment models
- further information on population structure and dynamics and, with particular reference to recreational fisheries management, information regarding size at maturity and whether this is constant across the basin.
At the time of publishing, the bag/possession limit is two of which no more than one fish may be equal to or exceed 75 centimetres. The minimum legal size is 50 centimetres in length and a closed season applies from 1 September to 30 November inclusive. Up-to-date information on current regulations can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
Information including size at maturity, angler harvest levels and hooking survival estimates will enable fisheries managers to more effectively predict the impacts of recreational fishing on Murray cod populations.
Fisheries Victoria in consultation with the FRDC, North East, North Central and Goulburn-Broken CMAs and DSE to assess the sustainability of the recreational harvest of Murray cod, given current environmental constraints on fish populations.
The sustainability of the recreational fishery harvest of Murray cod is assessed.
Bag and size limits that are appropriate to ensure the harvest of Murray cod is sustainable.
Murray spiny crayfish
Murray spiny crayfish is also a high priority for the establishment of monitoring programs as this species has a limited geographic distribution, has been greatly impacted by habitat alteration and degradation and has been affected by high levels of fishing pressure. These threats are recognised in the species listing as threatened under the FFG Act.
Murray spiny crayfish is endemic to the Murray River Basin. It is vulnerable to environmental and fishing pressure due to slow growth rate, long life span and low fecundity with annual breeding (Horwitz 1990).
Murray spiny crayfish are listed as Threatened under the FFG Act. Allowable take as a recreational fishing species is provided for through a GIC Order. At the time of publishing, the bag/possession limit was five per person per day, of which no more than one can exceed 12 centimetres occipital carapace length (OCL) and a minimum legal size of 9 centimetres OCL. It is an offence to take berried (egg laden) females at any time. A closed season applies from 1 September to 30 April inclusive. Up-to-date information on current regulations can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
Currently, there are limited data on the levels of recreational take of this species and its total population abundance. Information on the harvest and a population model is needed to improve understanding of the stock status and to ascertain the sustainability of current fishing controls.
Murray spiny crayfish populations will be assessed through a fishery independent sampling program that builds on past monitoring sites to increase our understanding of any changes in the stock status over time. Monitoring and population programs are described in the Action Statement on Murray spiny crayfish (DSE 2003) and include:
- Survey the streams in those catchments most likely to contain populations of Murray spiny crayfish in order to determine the distribution and abundance of the species. Information collected will include in-stream and riparian habitat data.
- Develop a population model for Murray spiny crayfish.
- Undertake periodic monitoring to refine and validate the population model.
Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with the North East CMA and DSE, to seek funding to establish a monitoring program, to inform the development of population model to assess the sustainability of the current recreational harvest of Murray spiny crayfish.
Recommendations made on the appropriateness of current bag and size limits in accordance with information that is collected from the Murray spiny crayfish monitoring program.
Bag and size limits are adjusted to ensure the harvest of Murray spiny crayfish is sustainable.
Macquarie perch has a limited geographic distribution and has been greatly impacted by habitat alteration and degradation. These threats are recognised by the listing of the species as threatened under the FFG Act and endangered under the EPBC Act.
Macquarie perch are endemic to areas north of the Great Diving Range in the Murray River Basin.
Recreational fishing for the species is provided for through a GIC Order. The only location in the North East region where Macquarie perch may be taken is Lake Dartmouth. At the time of publishing, the bag/possession limit was one per person per day with a minimum legal size of 35 centimetres. A closed season applies from 1 October to 31 December inclusive. Up-to-date information on current regulations can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide.
Currently, there are limited data on the levels of recreational take of this species, or its total population abundance. Anecdotal reports suggest that the sustainability of the Macquarie perch fishery in the North East Region should be investigated.
Fisheries Victoria, in consultation with the DSE and G-MW to seek funding to investigate the population status of Macquarie perch in Lake Dartmouth.
The status of the Macquarie perch population in Lake Dartmouth is assessed.
Bag and size limits for Macquarie perch provide for a sustainable fishery.
Recreational fishing opportunities
Strategy 2 – Classify waters within the North East Fishery
Public submissions regarding the Draft NEFMP indicated support in the recreational angling community for a classification system for waters within the North East Fishery. Angling groups including the Australian Trout Foundation (ATF) and Native Fish Australia (NFA) called for a statewide Stream Classification Model (SCM) to describe the primary fishing activity within a particular section of a stream encompassing Native, Salmonid, or in some cases Mixed fisheries.
The SCM will build on the Management Units described in the NEFMP and provide additional detail regarding boundaries for Native, Salmonid and Mixed fishery waters. The SCM will aim to align with Government legislation and policy and provide clarity for recreational anglers and fisheries managers. The NEFMP recognises that the SCM may require flexibility to account for boundaries which may alter seasonally due to fluctuations in river flows and water levels and other habitat conditions.
The ATF, NFA and the VRFish to prepare a SCM for the waters of the North East Fishery to define the waters to be classified as Native, Mixed or Salmonid fisheries.
Management decisions will be taken so that they are not inconsistent with the SCM or broader government policy.
SCM to be developed with broad agreement between ATF, NFA and VRFish.
Fisheries Victoria to consider the SCM in fisheries management decision making for the North East Fishery.
Strategy 3 – Quantify the social and economic benefits of alternative trout fishing regulations within the North East Fishery
The public consultation and submission process revealed some interest in providing access to a small number of waterways in the North East Region for fishers using particular trout fishing techniques.
Submissions pointed to the New Zealand, NSW and Tasmanian trout fisheries where rivers are managed either as fly-fishing only, fly- and artificial-lure fishing only, or all fishing methods (including bait fishing). In addition to these regulations, trout fisheries are managed with a bag limit, a closed season and either a minimum or maximum size limit.
Some submissions recommended selected streams in the upland areas of the North East Region as candidate waterways for fly-fishing or artificiallure only fishery management regimes.
Competition for fish resources may exist where fishers prefer different techniques (for example fly/lure fishing or bait fishing), catch different numbers of fish (for example bag limit, or catchand- release) or have different expectations regarding the value of the fish resource. When a particular fish stock or fishing location is subject to two or more competing uses, there is a need to determine how best to share the resource equitably among all members of the community and a resource allocation decision is required.
The Fisheries ESD Reporting Framework requires (amongst other things) that measurable management objectives and performance indicators be identified and implemented for the biological sustainability, resource sharing, economic and social dimensions of each individual fishery.
Prior to the 2002 Victorian State election, the FCC presented a paper to the then Minister for Energy and Resources that focused on the resource sharing (allocation) aspect of wild fish resources. The paper discussed some of the policy issues surrounding fish resource allocation, identified allocation policy options available to Government, and provided a decision and implementation framework for translating a chosen policy option into specific allocation objectives or targets for a given fish resource.
The FCC paper identified three alternative approaches or models for arriving at decisions on the most appropriate allocation of access to or benefits from common pool fish resources:
- 'Economic Model' - an approach designed to maximise net economic benefits from the use of fish resources.
- 'Community Interest' Model - an approach designed to maximise social equity in the use of fish resources.
- 'Balanced Outcome' Model - an approach designed to achieve a mixture of net economic benefit and social equity in the use of fish resources.
To achieve community equity, resource allocation decisions must be based on knowledge of the ramifications for the economic and social dimensions of the fishery. Resource allocation decisions should consider the needs of all users in the community and compare the economic and social values of alternative allocations of the fishery resource.
In 2004, the Government adopted the FCC fisheries resource allocation decision framework and endorsed the use of a mixture of economic and social values ('Balanced Outcome' Model) as the preferred method for making allocation decisions. Information requirements for the 'Balanced Outcome' Model are twofold:
- unbiased estimates of the preferences of the community for alternative ways of accessing, using or benefiting from the fish resources
- unbiased estimates of the net or marginal economic value under alternative management regimes.
A combination of this information can then be used to decide on the optimal allocation of the shared fishery resource among potentially competing users.
Fisheries Victoria, in partnership with VRFish, to seek funding and lead a contracting process for the development of independent social and economic valuation studies to identify an appropriate resource allocation for the trout fishery in the North East Fishery, based on the Balanced Outcome model.
VRFish to undertake consultation to identify candidate rivers to be used in the quantification of social and economic benefits of alternative trout fishing regulations within the North East Fishery.
Resource allocation for the trout fishery in the North East Fishery is based on the Balanced Outcome model and is therefore unbiased and reflective of community values and aspirations.
Alternative management arrangements are implemented if positive social and economic benefits are demonstrated through the Balanced Outcome resource allocation model.
Strategy 4 – Maintain stockenhanced fisheries within the North East Fishery
Populations of brown and rainbow trout are widespread throughout the North East Region and provide for popular recreational fishing opportunities in the rivers, streams and impoundments of the region. Fisheries in the rivers and streams of the region are primarily based on self-sustaining wild populations, whilst those in impoundments are primarily based on stocked fish. Fisheries Victoria appreciates that some wild populations have low fish population densities or small size fish which are insufficient to sustain a viable fishery, but stocking is not always the solution.
The primary reason wild trout abundance may not be high in a given river or stream is related to the carrying capacity of that stream, which is determined by environmental conditions such as food and habitat availability, water flows, water temperatures and spawning opportunities.
Natural variation in trout abundance often occurs between seasons as a consequence of climate induced fluctuations in stream flow and temperature. Trout in Victorian rivers are often subjected to less than ideal conditions during summer. High water temperatures impact trout populations by restricting their distribution, inhibiting their growth and even causing mortality in extreme cases. Higher stream flows help buffer against stream temperature changes, however, natural events such as drought have an uncontrollable negative effect on stream flow, habitat and in turn, trout quality and abundance.
Stocking additional trout, particularly into streams where habitat and environment conditions are unfavourable, places pressure on the existing selfsustaining populations. Recent research has confirmed that the return from stocked trout is generally minimal when they are released into a river or stream containing a self-sustaining trout population (Stoessel 2006).
The maintenance of stock-enhanced fisheries in impoundments is important because of the social and economic benefits the fisheries generate.
Impoundments in North East region provide year round trout fishing opportunities as unlike rivers and streams, there is no closed season. The closed season in rivers and streams aims to protect spawning trout in self-sustaining populations.
Most impoundments within the North East Region are stocked with brown and rainbow trout in support of recreational fishing. Between April and November each year, Fisheries Victoria releases between 50,000 and 60,000 trout across the region (Appendix 4). Most trout are released as yearlings weighing between 80 and 100 grams (20-25 cm in length). Small numbers of larger trout are stocked during holiday periods for direct put-and-take fisheries in Family Fishing lakes (Appendix 3) which are small impoundments close to urban and regional centres. Some Family Fishing lakes are also stocked with natives.
Between November and April each year, Fisheries Victoria also stocks between 70,000 and 100,000 native fish fingerlings averaging less than one gram each. Golden perch and Murray cod are stocked into various waterways in the North East Region in support of recreational fishing (Appendix 4).
Stocking locations, species and numbers are determined at annual consultation meetings (Regional recreational fisheries consultation meetings for fish stocking proposals, pg 16). The current stocking regime aims to strike a balance between the carrying capacity of the impoundment and the social value that stocked fisheries provide.
As discussed in the Translocation Guidelines section (pg 11), the Protocols for the Translocation of Fish in Victorian Inland Public Waters (the Protocols) have been developed to manage fish translocations. The Protocols aim to provide appropriate protection of the environment whilst maximising social, environmental and economic benefits derived from the activities. The Protocols describe a set of conditions under which the risks of translocation are considered minimal, acceptable, or manageable. Where a translocation does not conform to one of these protocols, a risk assessment must be conducted and considered by the Translocation Evaluation Panel. In addition to the criteria outlined in the Protocols, the North East Regional Recreational Fisheries Consultation meetings (pg 16) consider angler expectations, proximity of other stocked waters, catch return of stocked fish to anglers, water quality and levels, and other environmental conditions when making stocking decisions.
Fisheries Victoria to continue to stock native and salmonid fish in support of recreational fishing in suitable waters in accordance with established environmental constraints and consideration through the North East Regional Recreational Fishing Consultation meetings.
Stocking programs managed consistent with Guidelines for Assessing Translocations of Live Aquatic Organisms in Victoria and Protocols for the Translocation of Fish in Victorian Inland Public Waters, and outcomes of North East Regional Recreational Fishing Consultation meetings.
Existing brown trout and rainbow trout, and native fisheries are maintained as agreed at annual North East Regional Recreational Fisheries Consultation meetings.
Strategy 5 – Provide new fishing opportunities in the North East Region
During consultation, some anglers expressed interest in enhancing fishing opportunities for fish species in areas which are easily accessible to the public. Trout cod are considered by many to be a valuable native fish species, but recreational take is currently prohibited in Victoria.
Through the National Recovery Plan for Trout cod (1998 – 2005), the Ovens river was stocked for ten years with the aim of re-establishing a selfsustaining population in this system. This project was administered by the DSE.
Since the stocking program began, trout cod have become a significant bycatch for anglers in the Ovens River and anglers are now calling for the opportunity to legally take trout cod.
The DSE has commenced monitoring the success of the stocking program to determine the level of natural recruitment, the extent of distribution of population from original release sites and age and length of trout cod at sexual maturity.
The Draft Trout Cod Recovery Plan (NSW DPI 2005) recognises that controlled fishing for trout cod, in enclosed waterways such as impoundments, may lead to the growth of fishingbased tourism and greater economic and social benefits for regional communities. The Plan also notes that legalisation of a fishery for trout cod in rivers would only be possible where the long-term recovery of the species was successful.
Native Fish Australia prepared a Proposal for the establishment of recreational fisheries for trout cod in Victoria (NFA 2006). The proposal reviews and prioritises candidate waters for stocking with trout cod to provide for a recreational fishery in Victoria and identifies Lake Kerford, Lake Sambell and Lake Buffalo as potential sites for stocking trout cod for recreational purposes due their size and position.
Fisheries Victoria will investigate the option of developing a small, limited-take fishery in selected impoundments, commencing with trout cod, with the possibility of considering Macquarie perch and catfish as candidate species in the future as identified through consultation processes.
Fisheries Victoria to engage DSE regarding the development of a small, limited-take trout cod fishery in selected impoundments in the North East Region to provide new fishing opportunities.
Fisheries Victoria and DSE reach agreement reached regarding the development of a trout cod fishery and Fisheries Victoria determines a process for establishing the fishery.
A new fishing opportunity for trout cod is established in selected impoundments in the North East Region.
Strategy 6 – Monitor fishery management and stocking success within Lake Hume
Lake Hume is a significant recreational fishery for Victoria and, particularly in recent years, has come to be regarded as a high quality mixed fishery for trout, redfin and golden perch.
In 2004, NSW and Victoria agreed that, for the purposes of fisheries management, Victorian fishing regulations would apply in Lake Hume and NSW fishing regulations would apply in Lake Mulwala.
Prior to this agreement, NSW Fisheries stocked Lake Hume with golden perch, Murray cod and trout. Fisheries Victoria continued to stock Lake Hume with these species and has identified the need to better understand fish stock status and angler use of the Lake. In 2004, Fisheries Victoria commenced a research project to identify potential opportunities for improving management outcomes in Lake Hume and to benchmark the status of the fishery. Through a shared co-funding arrangement with the Recreational Fishing Grants Program (sourced from the Recreational Fishing
Licence Trust Account revenue), Fisheries Victoria commenced an assessment of angler use patterns, fishing preferences and catch levels for the Lake Hume.
To date, the project has included a twice annual monitoring of fish populations, a trial stocking of yearling brown trout and a creel survey to determine angler use patterns and catch rates of all fish in the Lake including the stocked brown trout.
Fisheries Victoria to continue to monitor fish populations and undertake angler creel surveys in Lake Hume during 2007.
Results of angler preferences and catch levels incorporated into fishery management strategies including planning of future stockings of Lake Hume.
Fisheries management in Lake Hume recognises survey results and employs adaptive fishery management where appropriate.
Strategy 7 – Encourage responsible recreational fishing behaviour
Recreational fishers have contributed to the identification of responsible fishing behaviour through the development of a Victorian Recreational Fishing Code of Conduct. This document was released by VRFish in 2004 and provides guidance to recreational fishers on issues such as protecting the environment, respecting the rights of others, attending fishing gear, being aware of and complying with fishing restrictions, returning of unwanted fish to the water, valuing fish caught and passing on fishing and local knowledge to new fishers.
The National Strategy for the Survival of Released Line Caught Fish is an initiative of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) in association with Recfish Australia and the Australian National Sportsfishing Association (ANSA). The main aim of this strategy is to improve the survival rate of fish caught by hook and line (that are undersized or unwanted), through a better understanding of the effects of fishing catch and release on the survival of released fish, and through adoption of 'best practices' in handling released fish. Further information on the National Strategy for the Survival of Released Live Caught Fish can be obtained from Infofish.
VRFish to facilitate the distribution of the Victorian Recreational Fishing Code of Conduct through appropriate outlets in the region, including agents who sell recreational fishing licences, fishing-dependent tourism businesses and fishing clubs.
Strategy 8 - Improve access to fisheries resources
Public consultation during the management planning process identified opportunities for improving access recreational to fishing.
VRFish in their access policy, VRFish Policy Paper - Access for Recreational Fishing (2004), describes access as '…the ease to which recreational fishers reach fishing waters or fisheries to conduct their recreation in accordance with the Fisheries Act and other laws, regulations and codes.'
VRFish, as the peak body representing recreational fishing interests, is well placed to take a lead role in seeking improvements to recreational fishing access, particularly in light of recent policy reviews (VRFish 2004). Other agencies, including Fisheries Victoria, may assist (for example, facilitating discussions between government agencies) for actions or initiatives being led by VRFish for high priority projects that have multiple benefits for a range of user groups.
Land-based angling is the most common method of recreational fishing in the waterways of the North East Region. Boat-based angling occurs in all impoundments in the North East Region and along most rivers. During public consultation, recreational fishers did not identify particular issues associated with access to these areas. However, VRFish may wish to explore this issue further.
Many anglers raised concerns about public access during the public consultation. Submissions indicated that access issues were widespread and difficult to prioritise.
Public consultation identified some general themes including:
- uncertainty regarding the rights of anglers to gain access across land (Crown land, Crown land lease, or private land) that is adjacent to the fishery
- roads and tracks that need upgrading to allow greater vehicle access
- infestation of weeds (introduced species) limiting access to the fishing water, and for aquatic weeds impacting the ability to fish the margins of some waterways.
Anglers identified issues relating to a lack of knowledge regarding the legal status of land adjoining the waterway (Crown frontages, private land etc) and their right of access. The VRFish policy Access for Recreational Fishing (VRFish 2004) has reviewed this issue and made a number of recommendations, which, if implemented, will improve angler understanding of access issues across the state.
Work to upgrade roads and tracks is prioritised by the relevant land managers and is based on available funding and the needs of the community. The most effective way to achieve improvements to roads and tracks is by engaging the relevant land managers and providing information on the most valued recreational fisheries to influence their prioritisation processes.
A list of issues (including access) raised at public meetings is provided in Appendix 6. This list will assist VRFish in setting future priorities when engaging other agencies.
Most waterways in the North East Region have been used historically by Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal communities have developed a database of culturally significant sites and can provide advice to land managers on appropriate consideration of cultural heritage issues when access improvements are under development. Where improvements to access may impact on culturally sensitive areas, the local Aboriginal community can provide advice to ensure cultural heritage issues are sensitively managed.
Fisheries Victoria in partnership with VRFish, to develop an angler access map and road signage for major rivers in the North East Region.
Where appropriate, Fisheries Victoria to consider facilitating meetings between relevant land managers and VRFish, to assist in developing access improvements for recreational fishers
VRFish to consult with anglers and identify opportunities to improve access to fishery resources in the North East Region.
VRFish to engage relevant land managers to promote road and track access for important recreational fishing locations within the North East Region.
VRFish to engage local government, where appropriate, to promote the maintenance of angler access through the development of policies that will recognise the importance of maintaining access to recreational fisheries.
VRFish to implement policy actions in its Access for Recreational Fishing to improve the understanding of their rights to access land adjoining recreational fisheries.
Maintenance of fish habitat
There is conclusive evidence worldwide that the sustainable use of any fishery resource is dependent not only on controlling the impacts of fishing on fish stocks, but also on the integrity of the aquatic habitats and the ecological processes that support the fishery.
Inland waters in the North East Region are facing increasing pressures from human population growth and associated agricultural, industrial, urban and tourism development.
Fisheries Victoria manages the sustainable use of fisheries resources, but habitat and environment are key supporting components of fisheries and these factors are primarily managed by other agencies. Consequently, to more effectively achieve our ascribed ESD outcomes, Fisheries Victoria seeks to influence the conduct of others. Fishery advocacy involves providing information and exercising persuasion to influence outcomes in favour of fisheries and Fisheries Victoria.
Within the North East Fishery, four priority issues have been identified by Fisheries Victoria, and reinforced through public consultation, as potential threats to the habitat or ecological processes for key recreational species:
- poor water quality (from catchment-related processes)
- reduced water flows and diversions
- barriers to fish migration
- riparian vegetation (including introduced species such as willows).
Poor water quality, including increased sedimentation and turbidity, primarily resulting from catchment related factors such as land use, can have a significant impact on fisheries resources.
For example, stock access, removal of riparian vegetation and land clearing can lead to increased erosion of nutrient-laden sediments. These sediments can reach waterways increasing nutrient levels that may result in algal blooms and sedimentation loads which may result in loss of spawning sites and reduced recruitment for fisheries resources.
Water quality can influence the carrying capacity of waterways for many fishery species. Carrying capacity is determined by the quality of in-stream habitat and water flow. Natural variation in fish abundance often occurs between seasons as a consequence of climate induced fluctuations in stream flow and temperature. For some native and introduced fish species (particularly brown trout), water temperature can strongly influence reproduction capacity and limit distribution.
Trout in Victorian rivers are often subjected to less than ideal conditions during summer. High water temperatures impact trout populations by restricting their distribution, inhibiting their growth and even causing mortality in extreme cases. Higher stream flows help buffer against stream temperature changes, however, natural events such as drought have an uncontrollable negative effect on stream flow, habitat and in turn, trout quality and abundance.
The North East Regional Catchment Strategy identifies sediment runoff as the major cause of algal blooms followed by inefficient fertiliser use, natural causes, irrigation run off and septic tanks (NECMA 2004a).
The primary policy driver for improving water quality within the North East Fishery is the North East Regional River Health Strategy (NECMA 2004). Although the North East CMA coordinates the water quality strategy, the responsibility to implement various components of the strategy includes water authorities and land managers.
The amount and timing of water moving down rivers can have a major impact on the production of fishery resources. In addition to natural variation, water flows have changed as a result of extraction and diversions for irrigation and domestic water supply needs.
Water flows are managed in accordance with Bulk Water Entitlement and individual extraction licences in regulated streams. In unregulated systems, Stream Flow Management Plans are being developed to manage the Environmental Water Reserve to the degree that flows are affected by licensed use.
The Stream Flow Management Plans for the Kiewa River and Upper Ovens River are scheduled for development during 2007 and are intended as tools to develop the Environmental Water Reserve in these systems.
Barriers to migration
Barriers to fish migration such as weirs, limit opportunities for mobile fish species to access other areas within a waterway. Key native recreational fishery species such as Murray cod and particularly golden perch, are capable of moving significant distances to breed or access food resources.
The Victorian Government officially launched the State Fishway Program (SFP) in 1999 in response to a statewide inventory that identified nearly 2,500 structures in rivers and streams that restrict fish passage and overall river health. Since the launch of the SFP, CMAs, water authorities and DSE have been working towards improving native fish migration and movement through the installation of fishways at priority sites across Victoria. The SFP has seen fishways installed at nearly 60 priority sites across Victoria for a net gain of at least 4500 kilometres of riverine habitat being reinstated for fish passage.
The Victorian River Health Strategy (DNRE 2002a) includes targets for the provision of fish passage either through installation of fishways or removal or modification of barriers on rivers identified as priorities. Priority barriers for removal or modification for fish passage have been collated by CMAs and Melbourne Water for their management regions. Prioritisation was based on information such as: presence of migratory fish species with high conservation status; length of waterway made accessible; condition of the river system; potential negative impacts (including potential spread of noxious or introduced species); and approximate cost of fishway/removal.
The SFP identified the Tea Garden Creek weir on the Ovens River as a high priority. G-MW operates the weir to manage flows from the Ovens to meet irrigator demands along Tea Garden Creek. A study to ascertain the value of fish ladders on the weir has already been undertaken and, a further study of pumping to Tea Garden Creek and removing the existing weir is currently underway.
The North East CMA has also identified actions to minimise significant barriers to fish migration in the Ovens, King, Mitta Mitta and Buffalo rivers.
Degradation of riparian vegetation Willow removal
River restoration projects are an investment in the long term long health river systems. Willows and other exotic riparian vegetation threaten to impact vegetation diversity and willows also seed on sediment deposits where they migrate downstream.
The North East CMA, under their Willow Policy, have identified strategies to reduce the impact of exotic vegetation including willows and has specific actions to remove willows throughout the North East Region including in the Ovens, King, Buffalo and Kiewa rivers and tributaries and around Lake Hume.
For many fishery species, willows provide a degree of protection from temperature fluctuations. Large scale removal of riparian canopy (including willow) can affect summer stream water temperatures. The degree, to which this occurs however, is primarily dependent on stream size and area removed, and can be predicted using remote sensing data to assess the riparian canopy type or by models such as STREAMLINE (Rutherford et al. 1999).
Replacement of willow with appropriate native vegetation is an important part of restoring river health. To assess the effectiveness of restoration projects, some long term monitoring is essential and to maximise the benefit of such a program, seasonal influences on the parameters of interest need to be considered.
As part of the NERRHS, research needs were prioritised and high priority was developing a technique to determine the short and long-term impacts of willow removals on river health. Currently Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre is working with North East CMA to develop a monitoring program for pre and post restoration works. One site was monitored in 2005 and studies are currently underway to broaden the scope of monitoring to determine the impacts of willow removal on river health.
Fisheries Victoria will provide information to the North East CMA regarding the optimum conditions including water temperatures for key recreational fishery species to assist in assessing the implications of removal of large tracts of riparian vegetation.
River Tender project
The River Tender project combines river health objectives, native vegetation protection and a market-based incentive scheme for private landholders who own or manage riparian vegetation.
Jointly funded by the Victoria Water Trust (Healthy Rivers Initiative) and the North East CMA, the River Tender project involves running a pilot project in the Ovens River valley to develop and trial the approach to encourage community engagement in riparian conservation, restoration and rehabilitation.
The pilot River Tender is aimed at protecting and enhancing existing native vegetation along the banks of the Ovens River and its associated floodplain, wetlands, and creeks.
The project objective is to achieve measurable improvements including reduced erosion, greater biodiversity and higher water quality in the Ovens River by assisting landholders to carry out work on their land or lands they manage.
Eligible landholders can lodge a bid for the amount of funding they would need to enable them to undertake works identified in an agreed management plan. Successful landholders will receive an initial payment followed by annual payments on completion of works set out their management agreement with River Tender.
More information on River Tender can be found at North East Catchment Management website.
Strategy 9 - Identify habitat requirements of key recreational species
While the responsibility for implementing programs to improve water quality and water flow primarily rests with the DSE, EPA, rural and urban water authorities and North East CMA, Fisheries Victoria can identify the habitat and ecological requirements of the key recreational species.
This information can then be used by other resource management agencies to inform policies and programs such as Stream Flow Management Plans, the State Fishway Program and River Tender which are aimed at addressing issues such as water flows, barriers to fish migration and riparian habitat.
The key recreational fishery species are trout, redfin, Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and golden perch.
The habitat and ecological requirements of fish species are best examined in terms of the key life stages that sustain their production: spawning, recruitment, survival, growth and movement.
Collating information on habitat and environmental issues that affect production of the key species will assist prioritisation of possible further research or monitoring programs by the North East Fishery Reference Group (page 42).
For Murray spiny crayfish and Murray cod, past projects have identified the habitat and ecological conditions required to sustain production, including the importance of riparian vegetation. There is also an opportunity to collect further information on in-stream and riparian habitat to assess current habitat status during monitoring programs established as part of Strategy 1. Where the North East River Health Strategy has identified areas as a high priority for restoration, these data will assist the North East CMA in targeting specific areas requiring habitat protection and rehabilitation.
Fisheries Victoria to collate information on habitat and environmental conditions required to sustain the production (spawning, recruitment, survival, growth and movement) of trout, redfin, Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and golden perch.
In accordance with the Fisheries Victoria Advocacy Strategy, Fisheries Victoria to provide information packages regarding trout, redfin, Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and golden perch to the North East CMA and GMW to assist in the prioritisation of strategies and actions.
Fisheries Victoria and the DSE to collect information on in-stream and riparian habitat data for Murray spiny crayfish during monitoring programs established in Strategy 1.
Prior to the review of the NEFMP, information packages on the production requirements of trout, redfin, Murray cod, Murray spiny crayfish and golden perch are provided to the North East CMA and G-MW to inform reviews of management strategies.
Information on the habitat requirements of key recreational species is being used by the North East CMA and G-MW in their policy development and investment programs.
Research and monitoring
Information derived from research and monitoring is an essential component of effective fisheries management.
Targeted research projects and ongoing monitoring provide information on the status of key fish stocks, habitats and environmental conditions important for maintenance of key fish stocks, and evaluation of the effectiveness of new or altered fishery management measures.
Planning and priorities
Research and monitoring programs will focus on three priority areas: the status of key fisheries and fish stocks, resource allocation in salmonid fisheries and the environmental and habitat factors influencing the recruitment success of fisheries resources.
Monitoring of fish stocks
As described in Strategy 1, the recreational fish stocks that require monitoring and research in the North East Region are trout, Murray cod, Macquarie perch and Murray spiny crayfish.
The aim of these monitoring programs is to collect information that can be used in fisheries management processes such as future fisheries stock assessments to guide decision-making on the appropriateness of current bag and size limits.
Murray spiny crayfish will be assessed in a fishery independent sampling program that builds on past monitoring sites and reveals stock status over time. An application to fund this project will be made through the Regional Catchment Investment Plan with an in-kind contribution from the DPI.
As described in Strategy 9, habitat and environmental conditions are critical to the production of key fisheries resources.
Fisheries Victoria has a fishery advocacy role to provide information on the environmental and habitat needs of key recreational target species to other agencies to inform their policy and investment processes.
The habitat and environmental needs required to sustain the production (spawning, recruitment, survival, growth and movement) of golden perch will be assessed in a literature review. Gaps identified in the literature review may be addressed in future research and monitoring programs.
Potential funding sources
Funding of research and monitoring programs for the NEFMP will be sought from the Fisheries Victoria program budget, the Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account and through the North East CMA Regional Catchment Investment Plan. Table 2 provides a summary of research and monitoring projects and information on costs and responsible agencies.
Table 2. Summary of fishery research and advocacy projects required to address the NEFMP objectives
|Project||Relevant Strategy/ Progress||Responsibility||Key partners||Total estimated cost||Potential funding source||Maximum contribution by Fisheries Victoria|
|Research angler diary program for trout in the North East Fishery.||1B||Fisheries Victoria||VRFish||$10,000 per annum||Fisheries Victoria program budget, RFL Trust Account||$5,000 (in kind)|
|Research project to assess the sustainability of the current recreational harvest of Murray spiny crayfish||1B||Fisheries Victoria||North East, CMA, DSE, FRDC||$40,000 per annum||North East, CMA, DSE, FRDC, DPI||$10,000 per annum (inkind)|
|Research project to assess the sustainability of the current recreational harvest of Murray cod||1A||Fisheries Victoria||North East, Goulbur n Broken, North Central CMAs, DSE, FRDC||$100,000 per annum||North East, Goulburn Broken, North Central CMAs, DSE, FRDC, QDPI, DPI, RFL Trust Account||$10,000 (Inkind)|
|Research project to assess the sustainability of the current recreational harvest of Macquarie perch||1B||Fisheries Victoria||DSE, GMW||$10,000||RFL Trust Account, DSE, GMW|
|Quantify the social and economic benefits of alternative trout fishing regulations within the North East Fishery||3B||Fisheries Victoria||VRFish||$50,000||RFL Trust Account||$10,000 (Inkind)|
|Monitor fishery management and stocking success in Lake Hume||6A||Fisheries Victoria||N/A||$75,000||RFL Trust Account, Fisheries Victoria program budget||$37,500|
|Develop information packages regarding habitat requirements of key recreational fishery species||9B||Fisheries Victoria||N/A||$10,000||Fisheries Victoria program budget||$10,000 (inkind)|
|Progress A – Underway at the time of publication of the NEFMP B – Scheduled for commencement during the life of the NEFMP|
Fisheries compliance for the North East Fishery
The waterways of the North East Fishery are classed as Victorian inland waters. Unless exempted, anglers are required to hold a Recreational Fishing Licence (RFL) to recreationally fish these waters. The requirement for an RFL applies to the taking of or attempting to take, any species of fish by any method. The licence covers other activities such as bait collection, gathering shellfish and crayfish or yabby fishing. Details of entitlements under this licence and other important information for anglers can be found in the Victorian Recreational Fishing Guide, www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing/.
There is a high level of community expectation that fishery resources will be maintained at sustainable levels and that the aquatic habitats that support them will be protected. The Act and the associated Regulations provide the legislative framework for ensuring the protection of those resources. Successful fisheries management in Victoria depends heavily on achieving optimal levels of compliance with legislation. This is best achieved through a combination of maximising voluntary compliance and creating a deterrent effect.
The DPI, through Fisheries Victoria and its regional Fisheries staff, is responsible for the delivery of a range of services associated with fisheries compliance. These services range from detection and apprehension of people fishing illegally, through to education and information dissemination designed to maximise voluntary compliance.
For the North East Fishery, these compliance services are delivered as part of the DPI's North East /North West Fisheries program. Fisheries staff providing these services in the North East Fishery area are based at Wodonga, Wangaratta, Alexandra, Tatura, Bendigo and Swan Hill.
Education and community awareness programs
There is a growing level of awareness within the community that through the act of harvesting our natural resources, we can have a direct effect upon the condition of the resource.
As the environment comes under pressure from the effects of development, fish stocks may also come under further pressure from increased recreational fishing activity. For some species, specific management arrangements are in place that may include catch and size limits and the closure of particular areas to the use of certain types of fishing equipment.
High levels of voluntary compliance require effective education and community awareness programs which promote and support close and ongoing cooperation between fishers and the DPI, a high level of community awareness and understanding about management objectives and strategies. Perhaps most importantly, it requires a sense of shared responsibility for maintaining healthy fisheries for future generations.
Fisheries Victoria recognises the need to maintain a high standard of education and awareness programs relating to the region's waterways. Fisheries Victoria will continue to provide these services consistent with its statewide education and enforcement program. Fisheries Victoria's programs are often complemented by the community education activities of other organisations, including CMAs, angling clubs and Fishcare Victoria. Fishcare Victoria's programs aim to foster responsible fishing practices and care for aquatic environments.
The DPI's fisheries community education and awareness programs are complemented and supported by its efforts to ensure effective deterrents to potential offenders through its fisheries enforcement operations targeting substantial and deliberate breaches of the regulations.
Land and water-based patrols by Fisheries Officers provide important opportunities for communication and engagement with active fishers, as well as discouraging illegal activities by providing a physical presence. The issuing of penalty notices can also act as a deterrent to illegal activities.
The DPI operates a 24-hour, 7-day a week, statewide offence reporting service – 13 FISH (call 13 3474). Users of waterways across the North East Fishery who are concerned about suspected illegal activities are encouraged to report these matters on the service.
Fisheries Victoria to:
- provide information on Fisheries Regulations
- promote community reporting of suspected illegal fishing activities through 13 FISH
- use information derived from fishery compliance risk assessments, 13 FISH reports, and historical patrol activities to prioritise, plan and target patrols and inspections to achieve compliance with fishing controls within the North East Fishery in line with a statewide resource risk-based prioritisation process
- undertake targeted compliance operations as required to achieve fisheries objectives defined in the NEFMP
- consider the Action Statement on Murray spiny crayfish during prioritisation processes for future education and compliance programs.
Compliance with fishing controls of at least 90 per cent is achieved.
Compliance programs are adequately implemented to ensure ongoing access to recreational angling species.
Management plan implementation
The NEFMP provides direction for recreational fisheries management for the North East Fishery.
Initially, most fishery management measures for the North East Fishery will remain unchanged with a focus on reviewing appropriate resource allocation, establishing programs to monitor the status of key recreational species and identifying key environmental threats to fisheries resources.
If information from these programs indicates a need to alter fishery management arrangements in the future to ensure sustainable use or to meet changing demands for recreational fishing opportunities, then changes will be considered in consultation with stakeholders.
Any proposed changes to fisheries regulations may be subject to a Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) process under the provisions of the Subordinate Legislation Act 1994, which includes extensive consultation with stakeholders.
The NEFMP will come into effect following a declaration by the Minister via a notice in the Government Gazette and will be made available to the public through the Internet and as a published document.
The North East Reference Group
The North East Reference Group will be established to work with the DPI to deliver the desired management outcomes for the North East Fishery. It is proposed that the North East Reference Group include representatives nominated by VRFish, Fisheries Victoria, G-MW and the North East CMA. Other groups or individuals may be engaged as required.
The role of the group is to advise the Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria, DPI with respect to the coordination of activities and projects in support of the NEFMP actions, strategies and objectives, including monitoring implementation of the NEFMP. The group will also facilitate partnerships with other agencies to develop programs, and review the outcomes of research and provide recommendations on future research directions. Fisheries Victoria will establish the group within the first twelve months of declaring the management plan. Terms of reference to guide the group will be issued by the Executive Director, Fisheries Victoria, DPI.
Ongoing implementation of the NEFMP will require action by the DPI in conjunction with recreational fishers, VRFish and other stakeholders to establish the required fishery monitoring and research programs, to carry out day-to-day management activities, and to ensure compliance with fishery management arrangements.
Key actions required to facilitate implementation of this plan are summarised in Appendix 7.
An annual progress report will be prepared by Fisheries Victoria on the implementation of the NEFMP and will provide details of progress against key performance indicators. Annual reports will be available on the DPI website at www.depi.vic.gov.au/fishing/.
Costs of implementation
Costs of establishing the required fishery monitoring and research programs, and potential funding sources, are described in Table 2 in the 'Research and Monitoring' section of the NEFMP. Costs for implementation of fisheries compliance activities across the North East Fishery will be met within the DPI Fisheries Program budget allocation.
For further information on this management plan or to comment on its implementation or recreational fishing in general, contact the Department of Primary Industries Customer Service Centre telephone 136 186 or visit the DPI website.
For further information on the activities of VRFish visit the VRFish website at www.vrfish.com.au.
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Stoessel, D. (2006) Macalister River Creel Survey. Fisheries Victoria Research Report Series.
Upper North East Water Quality Working Group (UNEWQWG) (2001) Upper North East Victoria Water Quality Strategy: An Action Plan within the North East Regional Catchment Strategy. Upper North East Water Quality Working Group, Department of Natural Resources and Environment, Wodonga.
VRFish (2004). VRFish Policy Paper - Access For Recreational Fishing. VRFish, Victoria.
Yen, A.L. and Butcher, R. J. (1997). An overview of the conservation of Non-marine Invertebrates in Australia. Endangered Species Program, Environment Australia, Canberra.
Department of Environment and Primary Industries
Department of the Environment and Water Resources
North East Catchment Management Authority
Anthropogenic – resulting from the influence of human beings on natural processes
Berried – refers to female Murray spiny crayfish carrying eggs under the tail
Ecologically Sustainable Development – Using, conserving and enhancing the community's fisheries resources so that ecological processes, on which life depends, are maintained, and the total quality of life, now and in the future, can be increased.
Introduced – a species that has been translocated outside of its natural distribution or range.
Objective – a longer-term description of what we are trying to achieve through the implementation of the management plan.
Performance indicator –used as a means of tracking progress of implementing actions on an ongoing (usually annual) basis.
production (of fish species) – refers to biological processes, such as spawning, recruitment, survival, growth and movement, that drive changes in the abundance and distribution of a species
salmonid – fish belonging to the family Salmonidae and including both brown (Salmo trutta) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Target –provides a longer-term measure for the Objectives of the NEFMP. Targets should be achieved through the successful implementation of the NEFMP.
Translocation – the deliberate human-assisted movement of live aquatic organism using associated transport media.
|CMA||Catchment Management Authority|
|DNRE||former Department of Natural Resources and Environment|
|DPI||Department of Primary Industries|
|DSE||Department of Sustainability and Environment|
|ESD||Ecologically Sustainable Development|
|FCC||Fisheries Co-Management Council|
|FFG||Act Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988|
|MDBC||Murray Darling Basin Commission|
|NEFMP||North East Fishery Management Plan|
|North East CMA||North East Catchment Management Authority|
|PIRVic||Primary Industries Research Victoria|
|RCS||Regional Catchment Strategy|
|RFL||Recreational Fishing Licence|
|RRHS||Regional River Health Strategy|
|SCM||Stream Classification Model|
|VRFish||Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body|
Appendix 1: Membership of steering committee
The NEFMP Steering Committee is independently chaired by Mr Neil Ward and includes the following members:
Mr Christopher Collins, FCC
Mr Stafford Simpson, Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body
Mr Norman Jones, Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body
Ms Veronica Lanigan, North East CMA
Miss Bianca Huider, G-MW
Mr Kevin Atkinson, Regional Coordinator for the North East Cultural Heritage Program
Ms Pettina Love, Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation (replaced by
Mr Alan Murray, Mungabareena Aboriginal Corporation from June 2006)
Mr Tony Long, DSE Mr Greg Hayes, DPI (replaced by
Ms Karen Weaver in October 2006)
Joy Sloan, DPI
Mr Neville Fowler, DPI.
Appendix 2: Management units and key recreational fishing species of the North East Region
|Key recreational fishing species|
|Lowland rivers||golden perch, Murray cod and redfin|
|Midland rivers||trout, redfin, golden perch and Murray cod|
|Lake Hume||trout, golden perch, redfin and Murray cod|
|Mt Beauty Pondage||trout|
|Rocky and Pretty Valley||trout|
|Lake Buffalo||trout, redfin, golden perch and Murray cod|
|Lake William Hovell||trout|
Appendix 3: Family Fishing Lakes of the North East Fishery
The Family Fishing Lakes Program, previously known as the Small Waters Program, stocks on-grown or advanced yearling 200 gram fish rainbow trout into suitable impoundments. They are generally of 5 acres in surface area or less and have a daily bag limit of five trout and no size limit; with the exception of the Premier Lakes. The primary purpose is to provide a recreational fishing experience to junior or disabled anglers. To achieve this, the waters are located close to populated areas and have good access.
The stockings are aligned with the second and/or third term school holidays plus any Fishing Week or junior fishing clinic events. This generally coincides with water temperatures best suited to trout. In most instances rainbow trout are stocked as they are normally bigger than the available brown trout at that time of year and are reputedly easier to catch by inexperienced anglers.
There are more than 50 Family Fishing Lakes across Victoria, eight of which are located in the North East Fishery:
- Allans Flat Dredghole (Yackandandah)
- Anderson Lake (Chiltern)
- Fosters Dam (Glenrowan)
- Harrietville Dredge Holes (Harrietville)
- Kerford Lake (Beechworth)
- King Lake (Rutherglen)
- Mt Beauty Pondage (Mt Beauty)
- Sambell Lake (Beechworth)
For more information on Premier Lakes and Family Fishing Lakes, visit www.depi.vic.gov.au/gofishing/
Appendix 4: Fish stocking programs for 05-06 for the North East Fishery (number of fish)
|Water Stocked||Month/ Year||Fish Size||Golden perch||Murray cod||Trout cod||Brown trout||Rainbow trout|
|Allans Flat Dredgehole|
|Mitta Mitta River||04/06||0.6||10,000|
|Mount Beauty Pondage||11/05||920|
Appendix 5: Ministerial guidelines
I, Bob Cameron, Minister for Agriculture, pursuant to section 28(2) of the Fisheries Act 1995 (the Act), issue the following guidelines with respect to the preparation of a Fishery Management Plan for the inland North East Region.
- Fisheries Victoria of the Department of Primary Industries will be responsible for the preparation of the Fishery Management Plan. The plan must be consistent with the objectives of the Act.
- The Management Plan must be consistent with all existing Government legislation and Departmental policies.
- The Fisheries Co-Management Council will oversee the process for the preparation of the Fishery Management Plan. The plan must comply with Part 3 of the Act.
- The Fishery Management Plan will be prepared with input from all major affected stakeholder groups, including recreational fishing interests and indigenous interests.
- The inland North East Region includes the Upper Murray Basin, Kiewa Basin and Ovens Basin as defined by the North East Catchment Management Authority in addition to Lake Hume as defined by the Fisheries Regulations 1998.
- The Fishery Management Plan will identify factors, including habitat and water management issues, impacting fisheries resources.
- The Fishery Management Plan may identify opportunities to maintain or enhance the recreational fishing experience.
- The Fishery Management Plan may specify appropriate management controls with regard to recreational fishing and may recommend options to assist in managing related activities.
- The Fishery Management Plan will identify research and information needs to support the sustainable management of fisheries resources.
- The Fishery Management Plan will include processes for reporting to the Victorian community on achievements of the Plan.
Minister for Agriculture
Appendix 6: Summary of key issues raised during public consultation
Public consultation for the NEFMP involved two opportunities to comment; one period of public consultation occurred prior to drafting the NEFMP and a second round of consultation involved an opportunity to comment on the draft NEFMP. In February 2006, public meetings were held at Corryong, Wangaratta, Wodonga and Melbourne to canvass the views of the community following which 246 written submissions were received. These initial submissions assisted in the preparation of a draft NEFMP. A summary of the key issues raised during the initial public consultation period is presented below.
|Issue category||Issue raised through public consultation||Policies, processes or responsible agencies|
|Trout management ('blue ribbon' waters)|
Trout are a key fishery species in the North East Region. Changes suggested to Fisheries Regulations including:
Willingness to purchase a 'blue ribbon' licence with funding directed to enforcement.
Strategy 2 in the NEFMP aims to provide clarity regarding waters classified as Salmonid (trout), Native or Mixed fisheries.
Strategy 3 in the NEFMP seeks to measure the social and economic benefits of alternative trout fishing regulations within the North East Fishery. This may include the option of additional licence fees for areas with alternative regulations.
Request for stocking of trout in popular areas such as King River below William Hovell, Ovens at Bright, Nariel, Cudgewa, Thougla. Call for stocking of larger fish into King, Buffalo, Kiewa and Mitta Mitta, Upper Ovens, 15 Mile Creek, Hurdle, Ryans, Buffalo and Rose rivers. Some submissions supported 'put and take' fisheries in readily accessed rivers, particularly prior to holiday seasons.
Request for stocking Macquarie perch in cool alpine or sub-alpine rivers and impoundments such as the upper Ovens and Mitta catchments.
Other submissions viewed stocking waters with vigorous natural recruitment as inappropriate, but identified that it can be useful tool to aid recovery from acute man-made or natural disaster. 'stocking was for many years seen as the great cure all for management of fisheries'
|Regional recreational fisheries consultation meetings and the Translocation Guidelines sections of the NEFMP outline the DPI policy regarding stocking.|
|Classification of rivers|
River reaches should be 'classified' in detail and allocated to either trout or native species.
Suggested classification systems included streams classified either as 'managed for the sustainability and enhancement of trout, mixed or native species' or 'areas that need to be protected for any endangered species'
Other submitters were opposed to detailed classification and saw it as being divisive and ineffective due to fluctuating boundaries. For example: 'I am opposed to the declaring of designated species waters…this may fail to protect some species or result in inappropriate species being stocked.'
Strategy 2 aims to develop a Stream Classification Model to classify waters as Salmonid (trout), Native or Mixed fisheries. The NEFMP has also identified broad Management Units with similar environmental, geomorphological and fishery species characteristics.
Strategy 3 contains an action for the Australian Trout Foundation,
Native Fish Australia and the Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body (VRFish) to prepare a more detailed Stream Classification Model for the waters of the North East Fishery to define the waters to be classified as Native, Mixed or Salmonid fisheries.
Concern that fisheries enforcement is ineffective. For example: 'obvious lack of funding to Fisheries Victoria resulting in too few inspections' Suggestion for Honorary Wardens: 'We recommend exploration of appointing members of the angling community as volunteer fisheries and conservation officers. This could help resolve resource issues and would go some way toward defusing the perceived conflict (in some quarters) between the objectives of anglers and those of environmental conservation and healthy fisheries. Anglers' objectives regarding environmental conservation are largely consistent with environmental policy (clean rivers, environmental flows, healthy vegetation and wildlife) and are therefore a force for conservational good. For most trout anglers, a love of trout fishing is a symptom of their love for natural wilderness and conservation rather than the reverse'
Some anglers expressed a desire to pay extra for licence fees to provide more enforcement officers
|The Fisheries Compliance section in the NEFMP outlines Fisheries Victoria's policy and prioritisation strategy for compliance.|
Call for partnerships with land-holders for access through properties. Examples of some of the issues identified included: 'The closure of vehicle access tracks to fishing spots, particularly in the Limestone Creek Upper Murray area.
Some submissions called for a map with access points and others requested standardised signage and stiles to assist anglers in accessing rivers. Anglers noted that this may assist in more effectively distributing angler effort.
Some submissions called for family-friendly tourism opportunities (relationship with local tourist organisations)
To be considered by VRFish as part of implementing VRFish Policy Paper - Access For Recreational Fishing.
The government initiative of Family Fishing Lakes and tourism opportunities are outlined in the Appendix 3.
|Weeds||Submissions found weeds create access difficulties in some rivers sections for example: Rose/Dandongadale Rivers, Thougla below Green Wattle Gap Track. Blackberry, gorse, and broom are considered most serious.||To be considered by VRFish as part of implementing VRFish Policy Paper - Access For Recreational Fishing.|
|Trout cod||Trout cod numbers in the Ovens have increased and restocking program may need to be reviewed. For example, 'trout cod are in plague proportions in the lower Ovens River and below Lake Mulwala in the Murray River.' Some suggested a small take fishery be considered. Others saw the restocking program as 'an attempted act of appropriation of a public mixed fishery by an ideologically driven green elite.'||Strategy 5 describes the current status of trout cod and the policy of Fisheries Victoria in relation to a trout cod fishery.|
|Murray cod sustainability||Some submissions discussed the sustainability of Murray cod. Some submissions believed the current bag and size limits for the species to be too generous, whilst others cited anecdotal evidence of high recreational catches. Some submissions were concerned that the wording of the draft strategy was unclear.|
|Carp||Some submissions found European carp to be a significant agent of degradation of our streams and suggested targeting carp for control and eradication through methods including commercial fishing, RFL funding for clubs to conduct electrofishing, stocking large Murray cod, or a carp bounty.||The Carp Control section of the NEFMP outlines the processes currently in place to manage carp.|
Some submissions called for surveys to assess the effectiveness of stocking programs and habitat condition to ensure optimum conditions for fish survival and sustainability.
Some submissions called for surveys of trout abundance in areas including the King River below William Hovell, Ovens at Bright, Nariel, Cudgewa, Thougla.
Some submissions suggested anglers could provide catch data to DPI via an online database with RFL funding.
|Strategy 6 in the NEFMP outlines current research to assess the effectiveness of stocking programs in Lake Hume. Fisheries Victoria also conducts regular monitoring work on waterways in the North East Region to determine the abundance of fishery species.|
|Recreational Licence Fees|
catching abalone poachers and not enforcement of trout. There was concern that RFL moneys are not put towards trout stocking, habitat improvement or enforcement.
Some submissions requested a reminder letter for licence renewal.
Some submissions were concerned that numbers of licences didn't add up and that some recreational fishers were avoiding carrying a licence.
The Recreational Fishing Licence Trust Account section of the NEFMP describes the projects funded by Recreational fishing licence fees. No RFL monies were directed to abalone compliance.
Current Fisheries Victoria policy reflects a business case study regarding reminder letters for RFLs which rejected the proposal.
Recreational Fishing Licence figures are consistent with exemptions for licence holders.
|Willow removal||Submissions generally supported willow removal, but were concerned that removal of large stretches of river at once provides no protection for fish resources, particularly when native vegetation is not replanted. Removal causes increased water temperature, fish kills, algal growth, increased pollution and erosion.||The Degradation of Riparian Habitat section in the NEFMP describes the background to riparian vegetation issues.|
Submissions were concerned about water use in the region and some believed that 'water is wasted and not directed into environmental flows.'
Some called for more 'flow balancing' of hydro-electric dam releases on the Kiewa and the minimum water release into the Mitta from Dartmouth increased to 400 megalitres/day.
For example: 'Minimum environmental flows are inadequate to provide for fishery and other biota.' And 'Bulk entitlements mean that many use their whole entitlement sometimes frivolously.'
|The Management and Regulation of Water section of the NEFMP outlines the agencies responsible and rules for water management in the region.|
|Land use issues|
Submissions were concerned about livestock damage to riparian vegetation and called for restrictions on stock access.
Runoff from forestry (siltation) and agriculture practices (fertilisers and chemicals) causing run-off and siltation, sewerage and septic tanks.
|Stock access on private properties.|
|In stream habitat, snags and river modification|
Submissions were concerned about dredging and river engineering works resulting in habitat modification. For example: 'streams are turned into drains without consideration of fisheries habitat'
Some submissions were concerned that Fisheries managers are unaware of the benefits of snags and re-snagging and placement of lunkers in rivers can be important for fisheries
|Dredging no longer occurs in the North East Region and the North East CMA has programs in place to improve river health in the region, specifically to increase woody habitat loads in channel inline with natural tree fall (no de-snagging).|