Reel Big Fish – Western Port

Reel Big Fish – Western Port is a three-year project (2020-23) that will contribute to the improvement of fisheries habitat by restoring critical vegetation communities throughout Western Port. This will be achieved by restoring mangrove forests and removing Pacific Oysters at priority locations, and engaging recreational fisher groups in project implementation and monitoring.

Mangroves provide a home for a huge variety of juvenile fish, and are a major store and supply of biomass and nutrients for Western Port, forming the base of the food chain and protection against the effects of coastal erosion. Restoration activities will be located at Hastings Foreshore, Churchill Island Marine National Park, French Island Marine National Park, Grantville Foreshore, Lang Lang Foreshore and Queensferry Foreshore.

Project partners

  • Bass Coast Landcare Network (BCLN)
  • OzFish
  • Parks Victoria
  • Mornington Peninsula Shire

Project priorities

  • Contribute to an increase in the extent of suitable habitat for recreational fish species
  • Increase fisher knowledge and building their capacity to actively contribute to a resilient fishery in Western Port
  • Increase the awareness and adoption of land management practices that improve and protect the condition of soil, biodiversity and vegetation in and around Western Port
  • Contribute toward the achievement of the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program outcomes

Project updates

2020-21

2020-21 was the first year of the project. PPWCMA entered into a sub-contract agreement with Bass Coast Landcare Network (BCLN) to coordinate the restoration of 100 hectares of mangrove forests at the five priority locations – Churchill Island Marine National Park, French Island Marine National Park, Lang Lang Foreshore, Grantville Foreshore and Hastings Foreshore.

BCLN will coordinate seed collection, propagation and planting of mangroves, and complete annual plant survival surveys to monitor planting effectiveness. This will be carried out in collaboration with their extensive local volunteers network.

PPWCMA will also enter into a sub-contract agreement with Parks Victoria to coordinate the removal of Pacific oysters at Churchill Island Marine National Park and French Island Marine National Park. Parks Victoria will coordinate the removal of oyster infestations in partnership with an established volunteer base.

In 2021-22, recreational fisher groups will also be engaged in the project. In partnership with OzFish, BCLN will deliver a range of events that connect recreational fishers with fisheries habitat specialists.

Funding acknowledgement

The Reel Big Fish – Western Port project is supported by Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management Authority, through funding from the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program.