Changes to bolster black bream fishing future

The future of black bream fishing in the iconic Gippsland Lakes is being bolstered for future generations with a bag limit change for the popular recreational species.

As part of ongoing work to return the lakes to a recreational fishing mecca through the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan, a 2023 survey of fishers showed clear support for additional measures to protect the species and ensure its sustainability.

The daily bag limit for black bream in the Gippsland Lakes and tributaries has been lowered from 10 to 7. The legal size range of 28 – 38 cm, also known as the slot limit, remains unchanged, helping protect larger bream that are more prolific breeders.

Victorian Fisheries Authority CEO Travis Dowling said the bag limit change will leave more black bream in the water whilst still allowing anglers to take home a meal of fresh fish for the dinner table. 

“Recreational fishers have thrown their support behind the change following extensive public consultation over recent months including a survey and forums with angling clubs,” he said.

“We received over 3,800 responses to our survey, with 83 per cent supportive of continuing the slot limit, 74 per cent supportive of a reduction in the bag limit, and 73 per cent supportive of a combination of both. 

“So many families have wonderful memories of wetting a line while on holidays around Gippsland, which really is one of the state’s flagship fishing and boating destinations.

“We removed commercial nets from the lakes back in 2020, we’ve stocked estuary perch and dusky flathead as part of the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan and we remain committed to make fishing even better in this stunning part of the world.”

The 2021 introduction of the slot limit – consisting of a maximum length of 38cm for fish caught in the Lakes in addition to the state-wide minimum size of 28cm – was underpinned by modelling indicating 12 per cent more breeding black bream would remain in the fishery.

Scientific surveys of the Gippsland Lakes showed a spawning record for black bream last year, more than twice the previous peak since surveys began in 2010.

The changes apply only to the Gippsland Lakes and its tributaries, including the Tambo, Mitchell and Nicholson rivers, but not Lake Tyers. Elsewhere, the bag limit for bream of all species remains unchanged at 10, with a minimum size of 28cm and no maximum size.

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