Legislation to end commercial netting in Port Phillip Bay has been passed through Parliament.
The Fisheries Amendment Bill 2015 delivers on a key commitment of the Andrews Labor Government’s Target One Million plan for recreational fishing, which aims to get more people fishing, more often, by increasing participation to one million by 2020.
The phasing out of commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay over the next seven years will increase recreational catch rates and the size of fish available for anglers.
The Bill specifies how net fishing will be phased out by 2022, including the total closure of Corio Bay to all netting by 1 April 2018.
It also specifies how compensation payments will be determined for the 43 commercial licence holders and provides for a limited non-net commercial fishery, consisting of up to 8 licence holders, to operate from 1 April 2022.
The Bill includes a revised, more generous compensation package, with payments to reduce over the seven year period to encourage early exit from the fishery.
Following the Bill’s gazettal in coming weeks, formal offers of compensation will be sent to affected licence holders with the first licences to be surrendered from 1 April next year.
Compensation payments will be made depending on catch histories, and will provide proper recognition of individual investment and loss of income to licensees.
The Government appreciates that this decision impacts on the livelihood of licence holders, many of whom are multi-generational fishers with strong family connections to the industry.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Agriculture Jaala Pulford
“Phasing out commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay is the flagship commitment of our Target One Million plan. It will get more people fishing, more often, right here on Melbourne’s doorstep.”
“Removing netting from Port Phillip Bay will help attract more visitors to this prime fishing destination, boosting local economies and supporting local businesses.”
“We have listened to affected commercial licence holders and this compensation package appropriately recognises individual investment, while giving commercial fishers certainty.”