VIC trial reefs attract snapper

Following on from our story last week about a growing number of artificial reef installations around Australia comes news of the success of a reef trial in Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.

The new recreational fishing reefs being trialled on the eastern side of Port Phillip Bay have according to Victoria’s Department of Primary Industry been rapidly colonised by snapper and other fish species over the warmer months and are offering new opportunities for anglers.

Minister Responsible for Fisheries Joe Helper said the first round of research involving anglers since the reefs were installed had been completed and snapper and flathead had dominated the catches.

“During November and the first week of December, which is the peak of the snapper season, 72 fishing trips were made by the group of research anglers,” Helper said.

“Preliminary analysis of the research angler catches so far indicates that fishing for snapper on the new recreational fishing reefs is much better than at the sites with sandy and muddy sediments.”

Helper said the Government recognised the important role the reefs could play in improving recreational fishing in Victoria.

“The Brumby Labor Government is taking action to improve the recreational fishing opportunities for all Victorian families,” he said.

The three reefs, Rec (off Aspendale), Tedesco (off Seaford) and Yakka (off Frankston), are each comprised of 96 specially made hollow concrete domes called Reef Balls and were installed in May last year.

The reefs are approximately two kilometres from the shoreline in 11 metres of water.

Fisheries scientist Paul Hamer said the summer sampling indicated a significant increase in fish numbers over the winter survey, and twice as many species in the reef areas.

“Large schools of young snapper were observed by divers on the recreational reefs and there was no noticeable change in abundance of snapper at the soft sediment comparison sites,” Hamer said.

“There will be more sampling of the new reefs over the next month and the overall assessment is expected to be finished in March next year.”

Underwater video of these reefs can be viewed here.

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