True rec & commercial catches revealed

VRFISH, the recreational fishing peak body in Victoria has helped shed new light on commercial and recreational catch levels in Corio Bay.

The report quantifying recreational catch and effort from the Corio Bay region was released recently by Fisheries Victoria and is based on a survey of recreational fishers from January to May 2014. The report dispels the myth and misconception that recreational anglers catch the bulk of fish taken from Corio Bay.

VRFish has worked with Fisheries Victoria to obtain a high level summary of commercial catch data for Corio Bay during the same period of the survey. The information has also been provided to Seafood Industry Victoria.

The data shows that the commercial catch of snapper (16 tonnes) in Corio Bay is three times that of the recreational sector (5.3 tonnes). There is a similar trend for flathead in Corio Bay (14.1 tonnes versus 4.9 tonnes). Corio Bay commercial King George whiting catches (7 tonnes) are almost two and a half times more than the recreational sector (3 tonnes). Calamari catch is approximately 12 times greater in the commercial sector (4.1 tonnes compared to 324 kilograms).

The Andrews Government has pledged $20 million of new money towards a buyback of commercial licences and is setting a sliding cap on catches that will reduce commercial access as licences are removed over the next eight years.

The practice of setting hundreds of metres of nets across areas, such as the inner and outer harbour of Corio Bay, has been a longstanding problem and the 7,000 members from the Geelong and District Anglers Association have overwhelming support for the plan to halt commercial netting.”

The recreational fishery in Victoria is valued at $2.3 billion to the State economy and provides hundreds of jobs. The direct expenditure from recreational fishing in Port Phillip Bay alone is more than $230 million annually.

VRFish has stated it appreciates this is a challenging time for the Port Phillip Bay commercial fishing industry and supports the need for close consultation with the fishers and fair and reasonable compensation by the Government.

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