COVID-19 Fishing Ban Victoria – Can I go fishing in Melbourne during the outbreak? Last updated 12/05/2020 – this space is changing so frequently so keep an eye out for updates.

  • Update 11/05/2020 Daniel Andrews has announced that starting on the 13/05 Victorians will be allowed to go fishing once again. Social distancing rules need to be applied so staying 1.5 meters away from others in congested areas. Also no more gatherings above 10 people. Travelling is allowed but no overnight stays or camping. So with some common sense, we should all be able to get back to some fishing. In the coming weeks, the government aims to loosen rules even further providing we don’t see any outbreaks or spikes in infection numbers.

Original article

Globally the effect of coronavirus has been devastating. Millions of confirmed cases worldwide and a frightful rising death toll. In such a short time we have seen the collapse of strong global financial economies and long-standing iconic brands close their doors. Whilst at an individual level many have had to endure job loss, self-isolation, and time away from family and friends. This pandemic is something that none of us has ever experienced in our lifetimes.

I want to reflect on the impact of the coronavirus to fishing within Melbourne and Victoria. This heated topic has greatly divided the fishing community at a time when we needed positivity to unite people together. When the federal government introduced stage 3 COVID-19 restrictions at the end of March they allowed each state to have its own set of rules and regulations around recreational activities such as fishing and boating. Whilst most states identified fishing as a safe recreational activity providing that strict social distancing rules were followed, the Victorian state government instead prohibited recreational fishing and boating altogether. Allowing police to issue residents with a $1600 fine if caught fishing or boating during the lockdown. With these state-level rules introduced, our booming fishing industry came to an immediate and helpless standstill.

Altona Pier Closed

COVID-19 different rules for different states around the fishing ban

If you want confusion than look no further at this stage each state has the following rules on fishing.

COVID-19 Fishing Rules by state

Victoria – Recreational Fishing and boating is suspended

WA – Recreational fishing is allowed but recreational boating is suspended

SA – Recreational fishing is allowed but recreational boating is suspended

NSW – Fishing and boating is allowed as long as proper social distancing is followed

QLD – Fishing and boating is allowed as long as proper social distancing is followed

NT – Fishing and boating is allowed as long as proper social distancing is followed

TAS – Fishing and boating is allowed as long as proper social distancing is followed

Fishing ban confusion at a state level causes frustration to the fishing community

The state rules communicated were quite confusing. You could go surfing, kayaking, rowing, swimming, walking but not fishing. You were allowed to visit retail outlets, major shopping centres or a packed Bunnings to cash in your government stimulus on DIY upgrades but you couldn’t go fishing on your own in an isolated area. Fishing retail outlets were considered an essential business that could continue to trade but recreational fishing considered a non-essential recreational activity.

Coronavirus social distancing

There wasn’t much constructive correspondence to the fishing community throughout. The only details shared were from Victoria minister for Fishing and Boating, Jaala Pulford “The advice is clear, you need to stay home, there are a lot of sacrifices we need to make and going out to fish is one of them. For some people, fishing is their job and at this stage that’s okay. However, if you don’t need to go fishing, you shouldn’t be”. We also had some level of communication from State Premier Daniel Andrews who explained ”Where people can stay at home, they must stay at home, “My message to every Victorian is that there are only four reasons to leave your home: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education”.

The common theme throughout was state leaders laying down strict rules with quite a vague reasoning as to why certain recreational activities were singled out when other State Premiers and Health Ministers had deemed these same recreational activities as safe providing strict social distancing was followed. COVID-19 Fishing Ban Victoria, I’m not suggesting that we all should have been out fishing during the lockdown as isolating was certainly contributing to reducing the spread of the virus and our state did not need busy boat ramps or packed piers. That would be irresponsible and not helping the greater cause, but the fact that different states within our country have a different set of rules on recreational fishing and boating is flawed.

The impact COVID-19 Fishing Ban Victoria is significant

The impact of these state restrictions was severe with some tackle stores shutting doors, charter operators faced with months of cancelled bookings and out of a job. Local fishing manufacturers with no demand for there usually popular products and major fishing retail stores experiencing their quietest trading times in history. Major fishing competitions were cancelled and local fishing clubs shut down. The impact was significant and many of these long-standing businesses may never recover.

Altona Boat Ramp closed

Coping with mental health during the COVID-19 Fishing Ban

As an avid fisherman and fishing journalist, it’s been challenging to having your passion placed on hold. For me and many out there, fishing plays a key role in our mental health strategy. When I’m struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression I turn to fishing, it is my escape that helps me deal with the challenges of day to day life. I have followed the governments stay at home message completely, struggling with self-isolation and a sense of cabin fever. Like many others, I began thinking of ways to occupy my time at home. I starting servicing my fishing gear, working on video ideas for the FishingMad YouTube channel, re-spooling fishing reels with new line and did some online shopping therapy as a poor attempt to stay connected to fishing stocking up on lures and soft plastics.

Mental health during COVID-19

I’m not breaking social distancing rules so why can’t I go fishing in Victoria?

An outlet like fishing during the outbreak would have helped me cope better. It’s the same feedback that I received from many close fishing mates who too were struggling with isolation. We questioned how our typical fishing habits would break any social distancing rules. I usually fish alone in areas close to home which are quite isolated. My fuel requirements are very low. I fish with soft plastics and lures, so I do not need to go to the shop for bait. I have enough fishing tackle to last a zombie apocalypse, I don’t need to visit the local tackle store to purchase supplies. I only fish in calm conditions never taking unnecessary risks fishing on my own. My track record would attest that any emergency was very unlikely. Don’t take unnecessary risks when fishing  So I’m close to home, isolated away from human contact and don’t need supplies or services. I’m not entirely sure why I can’t be out fishing whilst following national guidelines and safe social distancing rules when other states agree with this. The argument has been that you need bait, ice, fuel, supplies and emergency services, but that is not true for many local anglers.

Saving lives and containing the virus should be the goal for everyone. The federal government has done a great job to contain the virus and to support our nations wellbeing and financial stability during these challenging times, but I am baffled at a state level to understand how social distancing can be widely accepted for some recreational activities and not others when they are so similar.

Where is the communication from our major fishing bodies?

At a time were unity and communication are essential the volume of clear updates and explanations on COVID-19 Fishing Ban Victoria from our key fishing bodies were almost non-existent, contributing to a spike in social media arguments. Usual online fishing pals now battling over inconsistent rules which could have been shut down by key fishing bodies. There was some communication from VFA coronavirus fishing rules

Despite my opinion throughout the outbreak, I have only conveyed the rules which were to stay at home. That recreational fishing and boating in our state are unacceptable activities until the state government declared it otherwise. I hope in future our leaders will take more time to carefully examine the ins and outs of recreational fishing and boating. To look deeper at the various methods of fishing which are drastically different from each other. Then set regular and clear communication with a set of rules that’s applied nationally to unite our great fishing community. Removing inconsistent state-based rules. Stay safe everyone, I’m sure it’s only a matter of time for fishing to flourish once again.

Final notes from the author

Thank you for reading this article COVID-19 Fishing Ban Victoria. I hope you find this article useful and encourage you to share your feedback and experiences by emailing us at enquiries@fishingmad.com.au