by Ted Baillieu
New recreational size limits for recreational anglers has been imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in an attempt to rehabilitate the floundering population of dusky flathead in the estuarine waters of Gippsland.
Dusky flathead caught by a recreational angler
Minister for Agriculture and Food Security Peter Walsh said the new size limits were introduced in response to the increasing popularity of dusky flathead fishing in East Gippsland, and also in response to boat ramp surveys and angler diaries that show catches of large females have declined since the 1990s.
'The Fisheries (Dusky Flathead) Notice introduces a maximum size limit of 55 centimetres for recreational fishers to provide a no-take refuge for large fish to help rebuild breeding stocks,' Mr Walsh said.
'The Notice also increases the minimum size limit from 27 to 30 centimetres to ensure retained fish are a suitable size to eat.
'This action will provide greater protection for large breeding dusky flathead, particularly females, and will ensure that this popular fishery is sustainable into the future,' Mr Walsh said.
Member for Gippsland East Tim Bull said the recreational fishing community was to be commended for supporting the new size limits.
'Recreational fishers were very supportive of the proposal to revise the legal limits when it was presented at public forums held by Fisheries Victoria in Lakes Entrance and Mallacoota in March and April this year,' Mr Bull said.
The current daily bag limit of five dusky flathead per person for recreational fishing will continue.
The new size limit will not apply to commercial fishing activity so as to avoid the wasteful discard of large flathead. Other regulations for commercial fishing will continue to be in place.
More information about fish size limits and recreational fishing in Victoria is available at the Fisheries Victoria website or contact the Department of Primary Industries Customer Service Centre on 136 186.