Project number: 2009-064
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $63,573.00
Principal Investigator: Graham Milner
Organisation: Western Victorian Eel Growers Group
Project start/end date: 31 Jan 2010 - 31 Dec 2010


Gear modifications trialled in Project 2008/017 included: (1) a rigid-frame, steel mesh cod end and (2) a collapsible, nylon mesh cod end. These reduced bycatch of platypuses in fyke nets, and increased the likelihood of survival of other non-target species, without impacting the commercial eel catch.

However, the project identified some limitations with the gear modifications:

1. Clearing the catch from the rigid-framed nets was considerably easier than from the collapsible nets. However, the bulky construction of the rigid-framed nets restricted the numbers which could be safely transported on board a commercial 4m eel punt to a maximum of 2-3 nets. Feedback from industry has identified that operators would need to be able to transport and work at least 5-10 modified nets at once to justify the use of such nets from a commercial perspective.

2. The nylon mesh nets were more flexible and could be folded and stacked flat on the floor of a boat, allowing a larger number to be carried at once. However, the main disadvantage with this design is the difficulty in clearing the catch, as these nets are cumbersome to handle.

Industry has recognised that the gear modifications improved bycatch management in the fishery. However, the Victorian Eel Fishermen's Association has highlighted that the weaknesses described above are major impediments to the adoption by industry of the modified gear.

A key recommendation of project 2008/017 therefore was the further refinement of gear modifications to maximise the likelihood of uptake of the modified gear by industry. The Project Investigators and the Victorian Eel Fishermen's Association have identified a number of opportunities for the further development of the gear to improve its efficiency, and therefore increase the likelihood of uptake by industry. Such developments need to be made for industry to take full advantage of the project findings.


1. To identify with industry, potential user-friendly fyke net modifications
2. To trial agreed fyke net modifications in the effective reduction of protected fauna bycatch
3. To demonstrate to industry the benefits of modified gear options

Final report

ISBN: 978 0 646 57496 7
Author: Graham Milner

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