Marron menace to spread in Melbourne
Recreational fishing at Devilbend Reserve on the Mornington Peninsula could allow more feral populations of marron, a noxious freshwater crayfish, to establish in Victoria writes Kim Brooks.
Devilbend Reserve is one of two known locations of the invasive Western Australian crayfish in Victoria.
Dr Ross Thompson, co-author of Devilbend Aquatic Habitats Ecosystem Study, said one of the reasons marrons haven’t spread from Devilbend is because the reserve is not open to the public.
Devilbend Reserve has been closed since it became a water catchment in the 1960s.
Between 2000 and 2001, Melbourne Water removed the reservoir from the water supply network and initiated plans for its future use.
VRFish, the Victorian recreational fishers representative organisation, and recreational fishing interests have been lobbying for recreational fishing at Devilbend Reserve for over ten years.
When Parks Victoria open Devilbend Reserve to recreational fishers, as confirmed in the Final Management Plan released in May, the potential threat of marron to spread into other fishing spots in Victoria becomes a real concern.
The marron are considered a Noxious Aquatic Species under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic). Existing legislation prohibits the possession of marron at any time.
Additionally, it is illegal for a person to bring into Victoria, or take, hatch, keep, possess, sell, transport, put in any container or release marron.
Parks Victoria have noted in the Management Plan that restrictions on the type of fishing equipment permitted in the reserve will be employed to manage the spread of marron.
“It’s actually a declared noxious pest, it’s illegal for Parks Victoria to allow it to spread,” said Dr Thompson.
“Probably one of the reasons it’s not being spread is that people aren’t able to move in and out of the reserve, to me that’s a major issue that unless dealt with I would never open that personally for any form of recreational use.”
A confidential report on marron in Victoria conducted by the Arthur Rylah Institute for the Department of Sustainability and Environment states that the spread of marron within Victoria is likely to occur from the translocation of marron sourced from Devilbend Reservoir.
Don Ellis, President of Metropolitan Anglers Association, believes the idea that marron will spread is a “furphy”. He said that recreational fishers recognise marron and would not mistakenly remove them from the Reserve.
Devilbend Foundation, a local community group, disagree. In a letter to the Minister for Agriculture and Small Business in 2007, the President of Devilbend Foundation called the feral population of marron in the Devilbend Reservoir a potential threat to the aquatic environments of Victoria.
Tom Camp, member of Mornington Peninsula Fly Fishers and long time advocate for recreational fishing at Devilbend Reserve believes that fishers will help contain the feral population of marron at the Reservoir.
“The best way to maintain and manage marron is if you have people there keeping an eye on it, the worst thing to do is leave it unchecked.”