Recreational fishers in Port Phillip Bay Victoria have been getting an in-depth look at their local fishing spots through a citizen science project currently being undertaken.

The Reccy’s Restoring the Bay project is being led by OzFish Unlimited in partnership with VRFish and The Nature Conservancy and aims to involve more recreational fishers in restoration activities.

Using Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV), fishers are helping to monitor recently restored shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay along with favourite local fishing spots to get a better understanding of the species present in these habitats.

Fishers in the newly formed Indented Head OzFish chapter have already got a fish-eye view of some of their local spots, collecting some great footage of highly sought-after species including Calamari, Snapper and King George Whiting. While a fascinating insight into the lives of the finned residents of our Bay, the project also intends to use video data to monitor fish use of habitats and identify other aquatic habitat issues.

If you’d like to get involved with Reccey’s Restoring The Bay project than become an OzFish member today and we’ll get in touch with you and get you started. 

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Other aspects of the project include increasing public knowledge of the importance of fish habitat through forums and presentations and developing opportunities for community involvement in the habitat restoration movement.

OzFish have established 3 Chapters within and around Port Phillip Bay, including Indented Head, Albert Park Yachting and Angling Club, and a Bayside Chapter in the South Eastern Suburbs with more in the pipeline.

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11 DECEMBER 2018 - OzFish senior project officer Ben Cleveland is recruiting recreational fishers to monitor the sites. Baited remote underwater video (BRUV) units are dropped onto the seafloor and the footage is analysed to keep track of marine life. "Recreational fishers are getting excited about habitat restoration and they're really trying to develop as stewards of their environment so they can safeguard the sport they love," Mr Cleveland said.

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FISHING WORLD -Vic anglers go fishing for habitat in the bay

5 NOVEMBER 2018 - Recreational anglers dropped a line in Port Phillip Bay to help restore critical fish habitat as part of a major project titled “Reccies Restoring the Bay.” Led by fishing conservation organisation OzFish Unlimited, recreational anglers got to see an underwater view of their local fishing spots when they dropped Baited Remote Underwater Video (BRUV) units overboard in a bid to identify areas where fish need healthier habitat to feed and breed.

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FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

  • 1. What are shellfish reefs?

    Shellfish reefs are structural features in coastal waters created through the aggregation and accumulation of bivalve molluscs, such as oysters and mussels.  Many of these reefs have been destroyed, and now there is a global effort to restore these important habitats.

  • 2. Why are they so important?

    When living together as part of a reef, bivalve molluscs act as ‘ecosystem engineers’, creating structures for many different species to live in, providing greater protection for small fish to grow, but also homes for many species that are food for larger fish, therefore providing greater food availability and also more fish! Furthermore, these bivalves are natures filters, cleaning the water and helping to trap excess nutrients in the seabed.

  • 3. What does BRUV stand for?

    Baited Remote Underwater Video, (or BRUV for short) has been used as a research method in marine science since the 1950’s and is a great way for citizen scientists to get a fish-eye look at the world below the waves. Using an underwater camera, such as a GoPro, and a specially designed frame allowing us to replicate camera drops, BRUVs are left underwater for an hour and the footage is then analysed.

  • 4. What is the footage used for?

    Information we can get from BRUV footage include fish numbers (abundance), fish types (species diversity), habitat types, and feeding behavior. This can help us identify not only fish species present in certain areas and healthy fish habitats, but also areas which might need a helping hand, say from OzFish volunteers.

  • 5. Where can I take BRUV footage?

    As part of Reccy’s restore the bay, we are helping to monitor some of the recently restored shellfish reefs in Port Phillip Bay to get a better understanding of the species present at the restored habitats.  However, we are also monitoring many of our OzFish members favorite local fishing spots. BRUV units need to be left alone for an hour or so, so it is important they are not dropped in areas where there is lots of boats traffic.

  • 6. What species have you seen?

    Some of the species that have been captured on screen in Port Phillip Bay include schools of Pinky Snapper, King George Whiting, Flathead, Calamari, Eagle Rays, Fiddler Rays, Port Jackson Sharks, Smooth Rays just to name a few!

  • 7. How can I get involved?

    There are OzFish Chapters getting established all around Port Phillip Bay. If you would like to get involved or undertake fish habitat monitoring and small-scale restoration works or would like more information, please contact OzFish Unlimited Project Manager Ben Cleveland at bencleveland@ozfish.org.au

Funded by the Port Phillip Bay Fund, BCF (national partner of OzFish Unlimited) and the Urquhart Charitable Fund, the project builds upon the leadership shown by APYAC that instigated the restoration of the Bay’s lost living shellfish reefs with The Nature Conservancy and the Victorian Fisheries Authority.