Steer Clear in the Rip

Kingfish have been a hot target in Port Phillip Bay recently as recfishers take the opportunity to get out on the water with their friends and family.

A well-known spot for recfishers to reel in a kingfish, the Rip is a high traffic zone as it’s a pathway for large commercial ships travelling to and from the ports in Melbourne and Geelong. There has been an increase in the number of boats accessing the fishery as it’s made a comeback in recent years and the ‘canyons’ in the Rip provide an ideal structure for kingfish.

VRFish, in conjunction with Victorian Ports Corporation Melbourne (VPCM), promote safety when fishing in the rip through the Steer Clear in the Rip campaign. Steer Clear in the Rip encourages fishers and boaters to remain vigilant in Port Phillip Bay by steering clear of large ships in the rip area of Port Phillip Bay.

The Bay is filled with commercial ships often including container ships, car carriers and cruise ships at all hours of the day and night. For recreational users, it is important to ensure that you keep clear of the ship’s path and can be seen at all times. Small boats, jet skis, paddle boards are all very difficult to see from the ship’s bridge and their typical line of site is shown in the image below.

Line of sight from a ship’s bridge

Ships can weigh more than 150,000 tonnes and cannot change course suddenly. They often are travelling faster than you think.

If an approaching big ship is blowing it’s whistle, it is signalling for you to move out of its way. Big ships do not have the capacity to quickly manoeuvre or stop suddenly like small boats and the ship’s speed may be faster than it appears. For your safety as well as other water users, steer clear of big ships.


For those fishing in Port Phillip Bay, it is important to remember to Steer Clear of the Ships in the Rip, to ensure the safety of all fishers within the area. Any recreational fishers who fish within the Port Phillip Bay area should familiarise themselves with the following tips to safely and responsibly enjoy all that Port Phillip Bay has to offer.

  • Anchoring and trolling in the rip is extremely dangerous
  • The Rip in Port Phillip Bay is a high traffic area for ships
  • Don’t leave it too late.
  • If you cannot see the ship’s bridge they cannot see you
  • Steer clear of ships at all times
  • Ships cannot alter course in the rip
  • Penalties may apply


The Transit Only Zone (TOZ) can only be used a transit route. A vessel must not be anchored or allowed to drift in the TOZ. Please keep to the landside of the TOZ beacons which have a yellow cross on top. Penalties apply.

  • Covers the Port Melbourne Channel south of Breakwater Pier, the water approximately 500 metres to the west and 200 metres to the east of that channel
  • Includes the Eastern By-Pass Channel and the Western By-Pass Channel (beside the Port Melbourne Channel)
  • Extends approximately 3 nautical miles to the south of Fawkner Beacon.


The Ocean Racing Club of Victoria Inc. (ORCV)’s Port Phillip Heads Rip Tour is a great opportunity for recfishers to learn more about boating in the rip.

Once a year, the ORCV run an incredibly popular on-water tour of the Port Phillip heads. Guests will learn about tidal flows, correct use of channels, how to safely transit the Rip of Port Phillip Heads and much more.

This year, it’ll be held on 24 March 2024 and the tour can be joined from either Sorrento or Queenscliff.

For more information, visit the Ocean Racing Club of Victoria website here.

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