A study in 2008/09, found that 721,000 Victorians participated in recreational fishing and contributed $825 million per year to the total Victorian Gross State Product. Inland fishing, including estuarine (partially enclosed water bodies) recreational fishing, was found to account for around 60 per cent of all recreational fishing activity.

Responsibilities for managing freshwater and estuarine fish in Victoria

DELWP is responsible for managing the environment in which fish live. DELWP has legislative obligations under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act)to protect, conserve and manage threatened fauna, including native fish. Further obligations exist under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth).

DELWP is involved in developing and implementing Recovery Plans and Action Statements for fish listed under these Acts and also for monitoring these fish populations. DELWPs Arthur Rylah Institute also undertakes extensive research on threatened native fish species.

Fisheries Victoria is responsible for regulating the commercial and recreational take of fish and for the ecologically sustainable development, use and management of fisheries in Victoria in accordance with the Fisheries Act 1995 and the FFG Act. They also work with recreational fishers to improve their recreational fishing experiences. Fisheries Victoria manage the stocking of waterways with recreational fishing species, fishing licences, the movement of fish species and protection of fish of recreational and economic importance from invasive competitors.

Recreational fish species

For generations, Victorians have not only enjoyed catching native fish species (such as Murray Cod, Australian Bass and Golden Perch), but also exotic species (such as salmon, trout and redfin). Fishing for these exotic species is not only a popular hobby, but supports a large industry in regional Victoria. These exotic species are important recreational species that now permanently occur in many of our waterways. Exotic species can negatively affect native fish species by eating young or small-bodied native fish, competing with native species for scarce food resources or through aggressive behaviours such as fin nipping. This means that there can be competing management priorities in some reaches where rare or threatened native fish species co-occur with exotic recreational fish species.

While protecting native fish populations remains a legislative responsibility for DELWP, it is common for the DELWP and waterway managers to incidentally improve conditions; this occurs for exotic fish species as a consequence of restoration works, aimed at providing improved condition of waterways for native fish populations.

All aquatic life benefits from healthy waterways, and the associated good water quality, adequate water regimes, appropriate habitat and ability to move freely up and down rivers.

Stocking of both native and exotic fish species takes place in Victoria to improve recreational fishing opportunities. Fisheries Victoria stocks approximately 2.5 million fish every year into public waters throughout Victoria for recreational fishing purposes. At the State level, the Translocation Evaluation Panel advises Fisheries Victoria on issues related to the translocation of live aquatic organisms in accordance with protocols and guidelines. Regionally, stocking is dealt with through a consultative process involving regional input from land and waterway managers, and recreational fishers.