Victorian fishos under attack!

By: Charlie Micaleff

Charlie Micaleff says that fishos need to stand together to stop Victorian bureaucrats getting up to their old tricks and putting one over recreational fishos

The Victorian Marine Act is currently under review. Victorian fishermen are, like their Queensland brethren, faced with ridiculous ideas, proposed by people who know nothing about the joys of family fishing and who are trying to dictate and take away our valuable lifestyle!

Under the new Act, the government is looking at introducing limits to certain recreational vessels in enclosed and/or limited-coastal waters. These new limits will affect 99 per cent of recreational fishos who have discovered the saving graces of Portland, Victoria and Port Macdonell, SA, over the last few years.

If introduced, the Act will sink a few towns like Portland and Port Macdonell, not to mention the hearts and souls of Victorian fishos.

Here’s an extract of the proposed Act: "Unsuitable vessels would be prevented from operating in coastal waters. In the absence of information about design standards, vessel length could be the determining factor in setting limits.

Two possible approaches are set out below.

Recreational Vessel Restriction

Length 0 to 4.8m - Limited to enclosed waters;

Length 4.9 to 8m - Limited to 20nm offshore, and must have a VHF radio and be within VHF range of a shore station;

Length over 8m —Unlimited.


Recreational vessel Restriction

Length 0 to 4.8m — Limited to enclosed waters and 2nm offshore in coastal waters. This acknowledges the current 2nm ‘within visual range’ limit for not being required to carry EPIRBs and radios;

Length 4.9 to 8m — Limited to 20nm offshore, and must have a VHF radio and be within VHF-radio range of a shore station;

Length over 8m —Unlimited."

As you can imagine, a lot of people are extremely concerned about this proposal — and it’s not only fishermen, but the boat manufacturers themselves who simply cannot believe that this is happening.

During a recent meeting between boat manufacturers and the Boating Industry Association of Victoria, the former clearly pointed out that such a decision would be a terrible shock to the community if introduced.

The boatbuilders were also confused as to the motives behind the proposed Act, which, according to the Government, comes down to safety. However, when asked to provide documentation that explained why such a hard-handed Act was needed, they were unable to provide it!

The boat manufacturers also said that they couldn’t think of anything worse than seeing one of their boats tipped upside down in the water on TV and explained how they go to extreme lengths to ensure that such things do not occur. After all, it’s the reason they spend millions of dollars on hull designs and safety.

Victorian fishos differ to their Queensland brethren in the way they don’t travel hundreds of kilometres to fish. Most Victorian recreational fishing occurs in Port Phillip and Western Port Bays, while during the summer we fish offshore for sharks. The fishos who frequent these areas do not travel hundreds of kilometres, save for one exception — Portland.

This is where the southern bluefin tuna has had an incredible effect on the Victorian gamefishing scene, so can you imagine what would happen to the town if the government signed off on this ridiculous proposal? You can’t help but suspect that it’s all about the tuna and government revenue if this proposal is passed.

Please help us! This cannot be allowed to happen!


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