When fishing groups and catchment management authorities work together, it’s a win-win situation for the rivers, fish and the anglers.

Creating partnerships with local anglers to help improve and rehabilitate the state’s waterways is the focus of a Victorian State Government initiative – The Angler Riparian Partnership program.

“The program is designed to get local angling groups involved in the work being done on river banks and waterways,” explained Martin Fuller, CEO of the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA).

“This gives local anglers the chance to work directly with the CMA to improve fishing in their favourite rivers and streams.

“Anglers have incredible local knowledge about the state of our rivers and streams. They know which fish are prevalent in each area and if fish stocks are declining or changing.”

Mr Fuller said local angling groups had provided advice and assistance in several projects for the WGCMA.

“Our staff have worked closely with local fishing groups on projects in Corner Inlet, as well as Anderson Inlet and the Tarwin River.

One particularly ground-breaking project involved relocating blackfish in the Tarwin River. Blackfish have a small home range, so they tend not to move large distances. This meant it was unlikely the fish would move to rehabilitated areas of the river, even though work done to fence and revegetate the riverbanks had created suitable new environments for these iconic fish.

“The Leongatha Angling Club have been great advocates for the study and helped identify source sites,” said Mr Fuller. “Staff from WGCMA and the Arthur Rylah Institute captured and tagged healthy blackfish and then relocated them to rehabilitated sites further along the river.

“This five-year, multi-phase project funded through the Recreational Fishing Licence Grants project is the first time anyone has attempted to relocate and monitor blackfish. Being able to re-establish the blackfish population is a good indicator for us of the health of the river. It’s also good for the local anglers, who have supported this study the whole way along.”

Mr Fuller said another example of partnerships with anglers was the work with the Yarram Yarram Landcare Network improving river reserves on the Albert River, including the popular site adjoining the estuary. The Albert River estuary reserve allows recreational boating access to Corner Inlet and sees high usage by recreational anglers.

“Recreational anglers know that healthy land in and around the rivers is vital,” said Mr Fuller.

“Healthy soil and vegetation along the rivers buffers water temperatures, filters nutrients and sediment and provides shade, food and places to shelter.

“When the land around rivers and streams is healthy, there’s a direct benefit to the waterway. Healthy rivers and streams improve fish populations and ultimately provide better fishing.”

Mr Fuller said WGCMA would continue to work with local angling clubs, Landcare, Fishcare, VR Fish and the Arthur Rylah Institute.

“These partnerships are a vital part of our work to improve and rehabilitate the region’s waterways. We will continue to collaborate with these groups in a range of ways, including on-ground works and community forums.”

This program is supported by West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority through funding from the Victorian State Government’s Angler Riparian Partnership Program.

Staff by car at Tarwin River, Kardella
Justin O’Connor (Arthur Rylah Institute) and Matt Bowler (WGCMA) worked together on the blackfish translocation project in the Tarwin River