Western port begins race to restore fish habitat

Spreading the word about the role recreational fishers can play in improving fish habitat is often the creation of a bigger story, which can often take time, it’s a slow race. But we need to have a start and a finish line.

At OzFish, the starting line can often be called fish habitat talks, they bring non-traditional partners together like sport and recreational fishing with business and government stakeholders to ensure vibrant discussions and local knowledge is shared.  

The idea sounds simple enough, but don’t underestimate their big effect.  

Thanks to OzFish and other partners, there are an increasing growing number of opportunities for anglers to learn more about local fish habitats and share knowledge. This happened recently in San Remo, Victoria thanks to support from the Victorian Governments Community Volunteer Action Grants. 

OzFish Project Manager in Victoria, Dr Sophie Pryor coordinated and hosted the event at the Western Port Hotel and was reassured by the local turnout.  

“One of the best parts of my role is meeting people who have so much in common with me; they care about fish and their local waterways,” Dr Pryor said.  

“As quickly as people learn the fascinating stories of these habitat features, you can see the faces in the audience make the next realisation.  

“Wow, these places have been disappearing fast, and what about the fish? 

The conversation quickly goes from ‘why’ to ‘how’ – How do we restore these reefs, seagrasses, mangroves? And how can we help?  

Local experts presented topics on: 

  • bryozoan reefs, and what makes these internationally important snapper grounds so unique;  
  • seagrass, the best place to target calamari; 
  • mangrovesas  the last line of protection for Westernport’s other fish habitats   
  • shellfish reefs, juvenile fish habitat nearly gone, but not forgotten. 

The area is yet have an OzFish Chapter established to take on projects and get to a finish line but there is no doubt they soon will. It will one day make the snapper grounds and local fishing even stronger.  

“Anyone interested is encouraged to get in touch with OzFish or join online at ozfish.org.au

“A massive thank you to the presenters Bass Coast LandCare, Latrobe University and Melbourne Water, who gave us some fascinating talks and to Fathom Pacific for speaking and supplying prizes,” stated Dr Pryor. 

It is at places like the Western Port Hotel where the important conversations happen, with a hand wrapped around a cold drink and the other around a winning lure from the night raffle prize. The real winner however is the fish, and you – recreational fishers.  

The booming volunteering opportunities for recreational fishers at their favourite waterways project is supported by the Victorian Government through the Community Volunteer Action Grants and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.