Reefs plan to improve bay’s fish stocks


Sea hunt: Futurefish Foundation director David Kramer and Nepean MP Chris Brayne out on the water. Picture: Supplied

ARTIFICIAL reefs could be placed in the bay off the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean and off Rye or Blairgowrie under a strategy to boost fishing stocks.

The Point Nepean reef would be ideal for yellowtail kingfish and the Rye or Blairgowrie reef would suit anglers targeting species such as slimy mackerel and yellow tail scad – the perfect live bait for yellow tail kingfish.

Nepean MP Chris Brayne joined forces with Futurefish Foundation director David Kramer last week to workshop ideas for the reefs to enhance recreational fishing. Their plans include working alongside marine scientists and bay managers in the lead-up with the pair conceding “there is a lot of planning and approval required before the reefs would be installed”.

Mr Brayne said it was the Mornington Peninsula’s “turn” for reefs after Premier Daniel Andrews committed before last year’s state election to installing $2.5 million of new reefs in Port Phillip.

“During the past 10 years, successive Victorian Labor governments have installed reefs off Frankston, Seaford, Chelsea, Aspendale, Altona, Portarlington, Geelong and St Kilda,” Mr Brayne said.

“Most of these reefs have enhanced recreational fishing for snapper after decades of scallop dredging destroyed the natural habitat in the bay. Now that great snapper fishing has returned it’s time to boost recreational fishing opportunities on the peninsula using artificial reefs.”

He and Mr Kramer went boating off Rye last week to assess ideal sites – especially a reef to attract kingfish. “Yellowtail kingfish have made a remarkable return to Port Phillip, particularly in The Rip, however the most popular place to fish for them is right in the middle of the shipping channel,” Mr Kramer said.

“A reef off the Quarantine Station at Point Nepean would provide an alternate habitat for kingfish to congregate outside of the shipping channel.

“This would be safer for anglers and help avoid the issue of hundreds of boats drifting in the shipping channel in search of the prized yellowtail kingfish having to move out of the way of passing ships.”

Mr Brayne said the reefs could possibly be installed during the winter of 2020 and be fishable in the summer of that year.

“With boat ramps fees set to be scrapped on the peninsula before next season, artificial reefs on the drawing board and all commercial netting in Port Phillip ceasing in 2022, the peninsula fishing opportunities are set to be boom in years to come.”

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 11 June 2019