The Victorian government’s plan to end commercial net fishing in Port Phillip Bay has drawn a good response. Victoria announced a compensation-driven net fishing phase out plan in 2015. According to government sources, most of the fishers have opted out of Port Phillip Bay and are taking the government’s compensation package.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford said the number of fishers quitting has “absolutely exceeded the government’s expectations.”
The pull out will be almost complete by April. Among the 43 commercial fishers in the bay, 33 will exit by April 1. While two fishers will stay on for a while eight of them will move into line fishing. Abound $24.5 million will be disbursed as compensation in the next few weeks, reports News Corp.
The Victorian government has proclaimed complete ban on net fishing by 2018. The Victorian parliament passed a bill in November and offered a big compensation package of $27 million.
Closing commercial fishing in Port Phillip Bay in the name of salvaging fish stock attracted protests from many local fishermen. The bay is 35 times bigger than the Sydney Harbour, reports the Business Insider.
According to the report, the Victorian government is trying to honour an election commitment by ending the local fishing industry that is 170 years old. Under the government’s detailed plan, netting in Corio Bay will end in 2018 and in Port Phillip Bay, it will be over by 2022. There will be some limited non-net commercial fishery even after 2022.
The Andrews government also wants to attract more recreational fishers. “We believe that the nets were not sustainable for the resources out there,” recreational fisherman Rex Hunt said.
Seafood Industry Victoria executive director Jonathan Davies slammed the plan and said the compensation package was structured to promote an early exit.
Victorian Greens leader Greg Barber also opposed the ban on net fishing. He said the latest scientific report has said fish stocks are healthy and proved Labor’s failure in establishing a valid case for banning commercial net fishing.