It's Time to End Commercial Netting of fish in the Gippsland Lakes
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The Gippsland Lakes are critical to the sustainability of the Gippsland Region. They provide opportunities for residents and visitors to the area, to participate in water based activities including boating and recreational fishing.
Recreational fishing is of significant importance to the lifestyle and economic benefit of many Australians, including those who visit the Gippsland region. While the Lakes are promoted as a major tourist destination, those who come to fish often leave disappointed.
The Gippsland Lakes have suffered a decline in fish production over several decades. This is according to available records and reports from local fishers who can go back generations. The decline is attributed to commercial netting.
The Victorian Labor Government announced an end to commercial netting in Port Phillip Bay by 2022 and Corio Bay by 2018. This is part of its plan to increase the number of recreational anglers in Victoria to One Million. The commercial netting ban has however NOT included the Gippsland Lakes, excepting at the river mouths. This does not go far enough.
A Victorian Government report in 2013/14 estimated tourism contributes nearly $400 million to the Gippsland economy, whereas commercial netting of the Lakes contributes just over $1 million. Many tourists visit the Lakes to fish but are lucky to get a bite, they often don't come back. Even locals are heading further north or elsewhere to catch decent fish.
The decline in iconic species like the Black Bream and Dusky Flathead has been obvious to many, as these are targeted by commercial interests without limitation in numbers. Recreational fishers, quite rightly, must adhere to size and bag limits.
The restocking of Victorian waterways into the Lakes, financed by recreational fishers, is having little benefit to them, but most likely considerable benefit to commercial netters.
In 2015 public consultation on banning netting at the Gippsland Lakes river mouths, was led by Craig Ingram, Co-ordinator of the Target One Million plan for recreational fishing. His report was accepted in 2016 and included upholding the Victorian Government commitment to ban netting at river mouths and expanding exclusion zones by 50%.
Again we say this DOES NOT GO FAR ENOUGH! IT IS TIME TO END COMMERCIAL NETTING IN THE GIPPSLAND LAKES to increase fish stocks available to recreational fishers which will result in increased economic benefit to the Gippsland region.
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