Record number of baby black bream in Gippsland Lakes

Some of the record baby black bream in the Gippsland Lakes. Photo: contributed.

A record number of baby black bream has been detected in the Gippsland Lakes.

It follows a recent survey conducted by the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) – which found the number of baby black bream is more than twice the previous peak in 2017.

The surveys are carried out annually and measure the abundance of newborn black bream between 5 and 8 centimetres, compared to the previous spawning season. The variation in spawning success depends on environmental conditions.

Most of the baby black bream were detected in the lower section of the Mitchell River and within Mc Lennans Strait. Others were widely spread across the system and some were also present at a number of sites in the lakes where they are not normally found at this time of year.

This included Blonde Bay, Jones Bay and Butler Point near Paynesville.

Since the end of commercial net fishing in the Lakes in 2020, the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan has set about improving fish stockings and aquatic habitats.

In 2021, a slot limit of 28-38cm was introduced for black bream in the Lakes and its rivers to protect large bream as they produce more eggs.

The stocking of dusky flathead and estuary perch has also provided a boost to the Gippsland Lakes, sharing in the record-breaking stocking effort of 10 million fish over the past year.

Launching a boat is now free right across Victoria – including the Gippsland Lakes – and facilities are being improved with boat ramp upgrades, new fish cleaning tables and more fishing platforms.

Ramp upgrades are complete at Seacombe and are progressing at North Arm on Bullock Island.

Plans are also being drawn up for an all-abilities pontoon at Apex Park in Lakes Entrance, jetties have been repaired on the Mitchell River and a grant of $600,000 will help redevelop boating facilities at Metung’s Shaving Point.

State Minister for Fishing and Boating Sonya Kilkenny said baby black bream are a popular target for fishers, and it was great to see a record number detected in the Gippsland Lakes.

“It all forms part of our $35 million Go Fishing Victoria plan to get more people fishing more often and spend time on the water with family, friends and loved ones,” Ms Kilkenny said.