ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON SNAPPER Workshop notes

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1 ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION ON SNAPPER Workshop notes An opportunity for Fisheries Victoria, Primary Industries Research Victoria and recreational fishers to have a chat about Snapper. On Thursday November 30, 2006, prominent recreational fishers, senior Fisheries Victoria managers as well as research scientists met at Frankston to discuss the wonderful snapper season we are experiencing this year. The event was hosted by Frankston City mayor, Cr Vicky McLelland and facilitated by David Kramer from Reel Action recreational fishing services. Most attendees have an association with the 3SER fishing program that is broadcast each Friday morning on 97.7fm 7:00 9:00am. There has been so much discussion about snapper this year, 3SER co-host David Kramer decided to get the group together for a roundtable discussion. While many other people would have loved to attend, 30 people were a big enough group to facilitate in an orderly manner, and you couldn t argue the calibre of the attendees. ATTENDANCE AND FACILITATION Facilitation was assisted by the Rex Hunt Futurefish Foundation, with CEO David Cook and Board member Campbell Munroe helping to manage the small group sessions during the day. Ross Winstanley and Marc Ainsworth also assisted by co-facilitating small group sessions. Attendees included Rex and Matthew Hunt, Lee Rayner and Paul Worsteling from Channel Ten s IFish TV program together with Dr Peter Appleford, Executive Director of Fisheries Victoria, Jon Presser, Fisheries Victoria s Director of Fisheries Management as well as Dallas D Silva, Marc Ainsworth and Murray Macdonald all from Fisheries Victoria, Rod Barber, senior Fisheries Officer and Simon Conron from PIRVic. Also attending were Lynette and Trevor Hogan from Victoria s busiest boat launching facility at Patterson River, Rien Bleumink who organises the tea tree Snapper fishing competition, Matt Cini and Wayne Sharrock who are both Charter Boat operators and Phill Jones from Victorian Fishing Monthly magazine. Also in attendance was Ross Winstanley who is former manager of recreational fisheries, Trevor Buck who works for Paul Worsteling and is a member of VRFish, Colin Wilkinson from Keysborough Angling club, Chris Garner from Western Port Angling club, Anthony McClelland and Mick Rentlo, both very successful snapper fisherman and Theo Rozakis from MY Marine. Readers of the internet site, Fishnet were also offered the opportunity to attend, with Colin Cheng and David Thornton (Trailerboat Fisherman magazine) taking up the invitation to attend. This is probably the first time a group of such experience has sat around and discussed things during the good times.

2 SMALL GROUP DICUSSION RESULTS During the Round Table discussion on Snapper, participants were asked to split into 4 smaller groups and document their concerns, issues and opportunities for the snapper fishery. Campbell Munroe facilitates one of the small group sessions while Rex Hunt, Wayne Sharrock, Jon Presser, Trevor Buck, Anthony McLelland and Trevor Hogan listen The following is the actual information captured by each work group. These issues were discussed during the round table discussion: Group 1 s concerns, issues and opportunities: Concerned with the impact on future recruitment due to the large number of snapper being caught: o Survival of released fish o Taking too many large fish Concern with the publics perception of fishing: o Big catch & keep competitions o Illegal sales o Lack of visible enforcement Concerned with taking fish at too small a size Impact of exotic species on habitat Opportunity to get research info out to anglers Facilities inadequate for increasing numbers of boats & anglers

3 Group 2 s concerns, issues and opportunities: Public perception o More visible Fisheries Officers(FO) o FO s capacity and presence (numbers & funding) o Better publicity of busts o bag limit too generous o No boat limit Legislation changes required Education of anglers needed Enforcement is inadequate o Increased penalties o Part time officers during peak periods of the year Peer pressure should be greater Impact of numbers caught on sustainability: o Must monitor annual spawning recruitment in Port Phillip Bay o More catch and release competitions and lower competition bag limits o Adapt catch limit as stocks go up and down Taking fish at too small a size o Increase size limit Competitions o Accreditation o Location o Alternative time o Alternative method artificial lures o No competitions while spawning Possession limits o Take per day o Expanded into peoples homes Habitat o Recycle program for bait bags and artificial lures o More artificial reefs Spend on facilities Licence endorsements for services Proactively and positively manage the way we are perceived Habitat- artificial reefs, environmental facilities and recycling

4 Group 3 s concerns, issues and opportunities: Fishing community proactive in promoting responsible behavior Illegal sale Current bag limit too generous Inadequate policing number of officers Tighten and polish fisheries regulations Taking snapper before they spawn Exceed current bag limit Multi-tripping Major competitions to showcase responsible fishing behavior Snapper to Victoria as Barramundi is to Northern Territory (tourism opportunity) Recognition of recreational anglers view Tournament rules that don t depend on harvest Netting impact on juvenile survival Up-grading size of catch while fishing Hooking mortality on released fish over bag limit Channel deepening method of inspection Environmental pest species Timing of competitions in spawning season Victorian management of snapper compared to other states Group 4 s concerns, issues and opportunities: Build a positive perception Become proactive and in tune with the fishery Manage others perception of anglers Responsible Lack of officers policing Exceeding rules and regulations OHS around fisheries Officers Education Competitions o Timing o Catch and release o Accreditation o Management Bag limits o No boat limit o Bag limit too generous o Minimum size, should they be allowed to breed once during spawning? No possession Limit Tougher stance on prosecutions Recycle bait

5 Top 10 issues, concerns and opportunities Participants were asked to prioritise the most important concerns, issues and opportunities. The following are the top ten as identified by participants: Enforcement - There are not enough Fisheries Officers for adequate enforcement of fisheries regulations during peak periods Enforcement - Penalties are not severe enough for disobeying fishing regulations; Education The research results into Victoria s Snapper Fishery should be used to educate recreational fishers on the importance of sustainable fishing practices and healthy habitat for Snapper; There is an opportunity to introduce a boat limit for Snapper; Should there be a closure or reduced limits leading up to and during spawning season; Anglers should be educated in successful catch and release techniques; Catch and keep competitions should be deterred prior to spawning; The minimum size limit is too small although it was also recognised there is no biological reason for change and maintaining the land based Pinky fishery was deemed important; The illegal sale of recreational caught snapper is concerning; Recreational fishers need to increase promotion of responsible behavior.

6 The second round of small group sessions during the Round Table discussion on Snapper were focused on providing solutions to the top priority concerns, issues and opportunities for the snapper fishery. POSSIBLE SOLUTIONS Introduce a reduced bag limit, increased minimum size limit and introduce a boat limit; Adapt catch limits as seasons go up and down; 5 fish per person, min size 30cm, boat limit 15 per boat and Charter boats exempt from boat limit; More enforcement and education resources: o Lobby Government for extra dollars; o Increase the number of Fisheries Officers during peak periods eg. casual labor, volunteers, use other government agencies; o Consider further funding by the RFL by increasing the RFL fee; o Consider other funding sources with Government at peak times eg. Victoria Police, Parks Victoria Minimise the taking of Snapper from Port Philip Bay before they spawn: o Lower spring bag limit; o Post spring competitions; o Catch and release competitions; Fishing Community is more proactive: o Publications; o Signs at boat ramps; o No catch and kill competitions before spawning; Illegal sale: o Heavier penalties for buyer and seller; o Fin clip recreational caught fish; o More policing;

7 At the end of the day, every participant was asked for a brief statement on what they would personally like to see happen from here. Below are the comments: Spawning season closure no take (although need to recognise economic impact); Promote effective catch and release; More enforcement and education at boat ramps; Increase infringement penalties; Investigate sale of undersized snapper in Victoria; Increase lobbying of Government to get what we need; Need for strong representative group; Improve Fishcare program(education); Avoid complex regulations; More accountability by retailers; Artificial Reefs in Bays; Follow up meeting again in 12 months; Start with educating the kids; Need a voice; Get in Governments ear; Read the warning signs; Educate; Help and resources for fisheries; Take action now, educate on catch and release; Ongoing promotion of responsible fishing practices and peer pressure; Make an effort to educate others; Highlight people that do the wrong thing; Alienate offenders; Fisheries only work if it s blowing less that 20 knots; Steve Cooper to promote local fisheries in the Herald Sun; If it is to be, it s up to me; Work with kids.

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