Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — My adjournment matter is for the Minister for Agriculture. The matter I would like her to consider is strategies to allow a small amount of bait fish — pilchards and whitebait — to continue to be caught in Port Phillip Bay to supply the ever-growing number of recreational fishers in the bay. As we saw with the closure of commercial fishing in Port Phillip Bay, not only did that close down commercial fishing but it also closed down the fishers who were catching bait fish. Now, with the ever-growing number of recreational fishers and the government’s Target One Million for recreational fishers, one has to wonder where they are going to get the bait to continue fishing, because this was the only source of bait.
One way to resolve this would be to bring in imported bait, but that really does raise a whole bunch of environmental issues. We saw this recently in Queensland with the white spot disease on our prawn farms up there. In the 1990s we saw, sadly and with an unfortunate name, the sardine herpes outbreak that occurred in Victoria. This was an outbreak of a disease that was brought in by imported fish. Again, and much to my dismay, there was the devastation of the abalone market in Western Australia for the same reason — imported bait was being brought in.
As my colleagues the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, who are not with me today, would know, local bait is best — if you are trying to catch local fish, you want to use local bait to do that.
Ms Symes interjected.
Ms PATTEN — Yes, it is true, isn’t it, Ms Symes? You need local bait to catch local fish. We know that fresh bait is best, but at the moment we have closed down all of the bait fisheries, with the exception of one, in Port Phillip Bay. That one uses a very sustainable form of fishing. It is not like the general netting. It is very small netting and it is a very small number of fish. The action I seek is for the minister to consider a way that we could continue to commercially fish some bait to supply to the ever-growing number of recreational fishers in Victoria and in Port Phillip Bay.