Blue Groper in Victoria
Great news! Fisheries Victoria has extended protection of Eastern and Western Blue Gropers in Victorian waters to April 2013. The protection had been due to expire in April 2012.
The VNPA sends out a big thank you to everyone who helped increase protection for the Blue Groper. Whether you donated money, wrote a letter to Fisheries Victoria, or both, your efforts have paid off!
For the next year it will be illegal to take or possess both Blue Groper species in Victoria. It will also be illegal to use any fishing equipment, including spears and spear guns, to take or attempt to take them.
Those caught in breach of the new regulations face a loss of 100 penalty units or six months' imprisonment, or both.
Fisheries Victoria says it will work with the Department of Sustainability and Environment to discuss longer-term management arrangements.
It says that Blue Groper protection is appropriate due to the nature of the species and their vulnerability to fishing.
The VNPA congratulates the Victorian Government on this wise decision and looks forward to working with Fisheries Victoria and DSE on permanent protection for Blue Gropers - the friendliest fish in the sea!
How can I help, we hear you say!
By donating you're helping our small but energetic team breathe the kiss of life into the Blue Groper. But our team desperately needs your help.
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Please take a moment to thank Victorian environment minister Ryan Smith and deputy leader of the National Party Peter Walsh for their decision to extend protection of Blue Gropers in Victoria.
Old man of the reef
Blue Gropers, which come in a Western and an Eastern form, are large, slow-growing, friendly fish that reach a metre or so in length and can live for up to 70 years.
Reef dwellers, they were once more abundant in Victorian waters. But anecdotal reports suggest that by the 1970s they had been heavily fished out by recreational spear and commercial fishermen.
However, Blue Gropers now appear to be regaining a foothold in Victorian waters, with juvenile sightings suggesting numbers are on the mend.
As large predators, Blue Gropers can help stabilise marine habitats and may assist in reducing the spread of invasive species such as sea urchins.
We know that the establishment of marine sanctuaries in NSW has allowed gropers to reach maturity and grow to more than 1m long - drawing tourists from everywhere.
There are, of course, responsible recreational fishermen who deeply respect the environment and are selective with their catches. For many of these fishermen the no-catch ban is both logical and welcome.
But if the groper is to have a chance of reaching a venerable old age in Victoria, it needs permanent protection.
That these big, beautiful and ecologically important fish became so rare in Victorian waters is proof that the business-as-usual approach to managing our marine world doesn't work.
If SCUBA divers and other marine tourists in Victoria are to enjoy close-up experiences with gropers like their NSW counterparts, we need to start thinking as a whole. And there's much more we need to do in extending the hand of friendship to the Blue Groper.
What you should know about Blue Gropers:
- They can grow up to a metre in length and are known as the friendliest fish in the sea.
- Their numbers appear to be rebuilding in Victoria after heavy fishing in the 1960s and 70s.
- They have been spotted at the Barwon Bluff Marine Sanctuary, where they are protected along with all marine life.
- They are now protected in all Victorian waters until April 2013.