New management arrangements will permit the tightly controlled commercial harvest of pipis from Victoria’s coastal beaches to meet domestic demand for human consumption and fishing bait.
Victorian Fisheries Authority acting CEO Dallas D’Silva said the arrangements would give eight existing licence holders the opportunity to access the fishery over the next 12 months, during which time the Victorian Pipi Fishery Management Plan would be finalised. “Victoria’s beaches are home to healthy populations of pipis that can support sustainable commercial harvest, providing regional jobs and meeting increasing demand for the bivalve shellfish,” Mr D’Silva said.
“Pipis live on high-energy beaches in the intertidal and sub-tidal surf zone.
“They are highly prized for their eating qualities and as bait by marine anglers who use them to target premium table species, such as King George whiting.
“Currently, most pipis sold in Victoria are sourced from well-established commercial fisheries in South Australia and New South Wales.
“At Venus Bay, where one licence holder has operated for several years, commercial harvest will remain excluded from beaches 1 to 5, which are very popular with recreational pipi collectors over summer.
“Harvest by the eight commercial licence holders will be limited to 150kg per day, for only eight days of the month, and a minimum size of 35mm will apply.
“Most operators currently dip net for pipis on beaches, which minimises environmental impacts on what is already a high energy and constantly changing intertidal zone.
“Licence holders will be required to prior-report their intention to fish and post-report their harvest.
“Research has shown pipi stocks fluctuate from year to year due to natural changes in the patterns of coastal currents and winds, which drive the transport of small pipis.”
Mr D’Silva said there were no changes to recreational fishing rules for pipis.