Record Spawning for Bream in the Gippsland Lakes

The black bream fishery in the Gippsland Lakes is showing signs of a strong spawning season after the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA)’s fisheries scientists found a record number of baby black bream during their latest annual survey. In fact, it’s more than double the previous recorded peak in 2017.

Since 2010, the VFA’s fisheries scientists have conducted annual surveys at 50 locations throughout Gippsland Lakes and inflowing rivers where they measure the number of black bream between 5-8cm in comparison to the last spawning season.

This year, majority of the baby bream were found in the lower section of the Mitchell River and within McLennans Strait. Other baby black bream were spread throughout the Gippsland Lakes system. The VFA’s scientists also found black bream in areas they are not usually found at this time of the year including Blonde Bay, Jones Bay and Butler Point near Paynesville.

The Gippsland Lakes fishery was a hot topic amongst recfishers ahead of the last state election with VRFish advocating for a fish recovery plan to save the iconic fishery. Since then, a fishery plan has been implemented, a slot limit of 28-28cm introduced and the commercial net fishery was removed.

In our recent advocacy priorities survey, black bream was voted the 12th most popular target species by Victorian recreational fishers.


Recent pre-recruit surveys and fishing competition results are showing the Gippsland Lakes’ famous big blue nose population is getting the job done with rebuilding the population. We’re doing our part as well with support for continuation of the fisheries notice that establishes the slot limit.   

Victorian Fisheries Authority’s CEO Travis Dowling has written to VRFish with the following advice:
After carefully considering all submissions and feedback on the draft Fisheries (Gippsland Lakes Black Bream) Notice 2022 and, given the level of support, I have approved the final attached Notice without amendment. Based on submissions received and consistent with commitments made under the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan, the slot limit of 28 – 38 cm will be maintained for the Gippsland Lakes and tributaries for another 12 months’.

View the Fisheries Notice here.

See the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan here.

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