Recreational boating creates 17,999 jobs and is worth $4.5 billion a year to the Victorian economy.
With 197,000 registered vessels in Victoria and 417,000 licence holders it’s growing in popularity as more Victorians get out on the water to discover the state’s beautiful coastline, rivers, lakes and estuaries.
Recreational vessel registrations have grown at 2.5 per cent per annum over the past eight years. In addition to licence holders, there are 256,000 licence endorsements for personal watercraft or jet skis.
As an on-water activity, jets skis are becoming increasingly popular. They now make up 11 per cent of all registered vessels, up from 6.5 per cent eight years ago. Recreational fishing is big business too given that 838,000 people wet a line or dive for seafood every year.
Hundreds of waterways are stocked with fish and facilities are improved through recreational fishing licence fees and Victorian Government initiatives like Target One Million, which aims to increase participation to one million anglers by 2020 through delivering key projects and events.
A new era
Minister for Fishing and Boating Hon Jaala Pulford MP has been appointed in recognition of the importance of recreational fishing and boating in the state.
The Victorian Government's better boat ramps, free parking and more fish for Victorians policy commitment – Target One Million phase 2 – will provide an unprecedented boost to recreational fishing and boating in Victoria, making it cheaper and easier for families to get out on the water.
Better Boating Victoria was established in March 2019 and tasked with overseeing a program of reforms.
Its priority is to scrap parking and launching fees at all Victorian public boat ramps, oversee the upgrade of boating facilities at key locations and undertake a review of management arrangements of boating infrastructure.
- Abolish all boat ramp parking and launching fees at public Victorian boat ramps
- Ensure every cent of licencing and registration fees is spent on boating safety and facilities
- Establish a Better Boating Fund to get to work immediately on urgent boat ramp upgrades at Rhyll, Mordialloc, Hastings, Point Richards and Queenscliff
- Undertake critical maintenance at Cowes Jetty
- Provide eight new casual berths across Port Phillip that are accessible to the public
- Review management of boating infrastructure in Port Phillip and Western Port with a view to establishing a dedicated boating infrastructure authority.
To get more people fishing, more often, Target One Million phase 2 will invest more than $27 million to:
- Phase out commercial fishing in the Gippsland Lakes through a compulsory buyout to give the Lakes back to recreational anglers, boost tourism and create jobs
- Construct a new $7 million native fish hatchery in Shepparton focussed on warm water species such as Murray cod and golden perch
- Increase fish stocking to 10 million fish annually by 2022
- Allow anglers to use boats and kayaks with electric motors on some lakes and reservoirs including Tullaroop, Lauriston, Hepburn, Barkers Creek, Upper Coliban and Malmsbury, with later consideration to be given to Tarago and Devilbend
- Mandate access for fishing and camping through opening up hundreds of kilometres of crown land river frontages, many covered by grazing licences
- Stock Eastern King Prawns into Lake Tyers
- Invest in science and habitat restoration in the Gippsland Lakes to ensure the environment remains healthy
- Invest $1.5 million for a new on water cafe on Bullock Island in partnership with the Lakes Entrance Fishermen’s Co Operative Society
- Invest $600,000, in addition to fishing licence fees, on fish cleaning tables and fishing platforms around Port Phillip including Corio Bay
- Improve fish habitat in Port Phillip by investing $2.5 million reef development
- Advocate for Southern Bluefin Tuna to protect the fishery from bag limit cuts by the Commonwealth
- Release more native fish including Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch into suburban lakes such as Rowville, Lilydale, Karkarook, Casey Fields, Navan Park, Roxburgh and Melton
- Introduce a new Fishing for All program to get more people into fishing, including a further $200,000 into the Vic Fish Kids program;
- Offer number plates for recreational fishers
- Invest $200,000 to develop a recreational fishing tourism plan with a focus on events and marketing regions and towns with specific species.