The Victorian Government has announced it will buyback commercial fishing net licenses in Port Phillip Bay within 10 years, and pledged $20 million to begin the process if it is re-elected. The State Opposition followed announcing a similar scheme within days of the Government’s announcement.
SETFIA understands that the Victorian Coalition Government was pushed into urgent action when it discovered weeks from the election that a consortium of tackle shop owners were on the brink of an agreement with the Victorian Opposition to create a recreational fishing haven in Port Phillip Bay.
Days later Rex Hunt addressed a crowd of 700 recreational fishermen, thrust an imported fishing rod into the air and celebrated the loss of family livelihoods.
The Victorian Minister for Agriculture the Hon. Peter Walsh has previously stated that the balance between recreational and commercial catches was correct. The Minister did not consult with his Fisheries Advisory Committee that was established after a promise in the last election. Minister Walsh added that recreational anglers would be, “guaranteed a better catch…” after the buy-back.
Many of the fisheries that will be removed including king george whiting, black bream, silver trevally, rock flathead and southern calamari were recently certified as sustainable by the Australian Conservation Foundation.
Based on 2012-13 data 500-600 tonnes of local seafood will be removed from supply. Melbourne Chefs took to Twitter to voice their displeasure.
Demand is expected to be filled by air freighted imported fish from New Zealand. Mr Craig Boote owner ofWestfleet Seafoods on New Zealand’s west coast stated that the closure of the Port Phillip Bay fishery was a sad outcome for Australian fishers but at the same time very positive for the New Zealand industry. He expected to see his business’s exports to Australia increase. Mr Boote explained that based on sales to Australia he had just opened a new build factory and wharf at a cost of NZ$15m and was currently employing 110 staff.
Johnathon Davey from Seafood Industry Victoria explained that it was now obvious that Victorian seafood consumers did not understand where their seafood came from and that SIV would address that. He added that the loss of fishing and integrated fishing/fish shop businesses would see the livelihoods of 30 Victorian families ended. SIV have launched a petition supporting Victorian commercial fisheries that can be signed here.