Commercial netting in Gippsland Lakes is set to end, with the Andrews Labor Government passing legislation today that will boost tourism, create jobs and protect the unique lake system.
The Marine and Fisheries Legislation Amendment Act 2019 will phase out the 10 remaining Gippsland Lakes Fishing Access Licences over two years. The first opportunity for industry to exit will be 1 April next year, with all affected licences phased out by 1 April 2021.
The new laws deliver on a major milestone for the second phase of the Labor Government’s $35 million Target One Million plan to get more people fishing, more often in more places.
Recreational fishing is worth more than $325 million annually to the Gippsland economy. Returning the Gippsland Lakes to recreational fishers will see a huge boost in local tourism and regional jobs, and help rebuild fish stocks for popular recreational species like black bream and flathead.
The 10 remaining Gippsland Lakes Fishing Access Licences will have access to compensation packages consistent with those provided under the Port Phillip buy-out if they leave the fishery by 1 April 2020.
Licence holders that choose to stay in the fishery another 12 months can then claim reduced compensation packages by 1 April 2021.
Commercial bait, eel and mussel fishing will not be impacted by the Bill and will continue to be permitted in the Gippsland Lakes.
Victorian and Commonwealth offshore fisheries that use the Lakes as a port will also remain unaffected, ensuring that prawns and other species sold into the food market will remain available to consumers.
Today’s announcement comes on top of the $270,000 announced by the Government last month, which will improve habitat and help preserve internationally-significant environment in the Gippsland Lakes.
As noted by Fishing and Boating Minister Jaala Pulford
“We said we’d phase out commercial net fishing in the Gippsland Lakes and we’re delivering. These new laws will boost tourism, supporting local businesses and jobs.”
“It is disappointing that the Liberals and Nationals have tried to stop this reform that will boost tourism and support jobs at every single turn.”