Port Phillip Bay Net Fishing Ban – The Issues
A Fisheries Amendment Bill 2015 is currently before the Parliament. This Bill proposes amendments to the Fisheries Act 1995 to provide a clear scheme to phase out all commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay by 2022. The reason for this is to improve the recreational fishing experience in the bay and increase the numbers of recreational anglers.
The fallout of this election promise initiated by the Coalition government in 2014 and committed to by Daniel Andrews will be the loss of livelihood for 43 family fishing businesses that net in the bay. These businesses will be compensated by the state government. As a result of the ban on netting key sustainable bay species such as King George whiting, rock flathead, calamari and sardines will no longer be available fresh from Port Phillip Bay. Being an avid local seafood lover I found this quite alarming and did some fishing around for more facts.
While the Save The Bay Seafood campaign states that Victorians will no longer have access to fresh, local and affordable seafood this is not entirely true as commercial fishing from other Victorian fisheries, such as Lakes Entrance, one of the main sources of our local fish, will continue. The reality is the bay only provides 1% of the seafood consumed in Victoria. King George whiting, sardines and flathead species from the Gippsland Lakes region are listed as sustainable and calamari is fished there but stocks are undetermined. In addition, commercial line fishing for snapper will continue in the bay. Dive fishing for scallops will also continue in the bay, although no catches have been recorded for 2 years as Tasmania scallops have been harvested instead.
On balance there may be little impact on availability and price of our local fish species. I say on balance. At present Victorian fisheries are reliant on our (Melbourne) consumption of seafood with more than 80% of the catch going to the wholesale market in West Melbourne. At present if we keep buying local, the restaurant industry demand continues and stocks are monitored then Victorian wild caught fisheries appear to be able to meet our needs. Things could change dramatically if the industry gears up as an export industry. I’ll keep fishing around for facts. Let me know if you have a bite.
Links to information from both sides of the issue.
Victorian State Government, Agriculture – Fisheries, FAQs