Harvesting & it's issues
Cultural & environmental acknowledgement:
Our Community acknowledges that pipi harvesting is culturally acceptable.
"It does not matter who is doing the pipi harvesting, it's
the amount that's being harvested that is unsustainable"
Each year Venus Bay was swamped by thousands of day-trippers with the sole purpose to collect pipis & each year becomes worse. Harvesting peaks at summer & Christmas due to public holidays, longer days & the great weather. Harvesting is an all year round activity, restricted to catch limit, no tools & a fishing licence is required. Any size pipi can be legally taken & there is no overall catch limit per vehicle.
Fisheries/DEDJTR & Venus Bay Community:
Venus Bay residences & visitors alike have voiced their concerns to Fisheries, Department of Economic Development Jobs Transport & Resources (DEDJTR) & Parks Vic about over harvesting that is often witness every summer. The community has tried to work with Fisheries & DEDJTR to improve fishing regulations by reducing catch limits, calling for more staff to supervise the harvest, or the introduction of a closed season to allow the beach to be shared with other users. The only success the community was granted was a reduction in the catch limit, which is still poorly supervised due to limited staff resources.
Fisheries was pressured by the community to conduct two pipi stock surveys. In both surveys (Zac Lewis 2008, published 2010 & Jacinta Early 2011, published 2013) it was concluded that the current pipi harvesting was not proven to be sustainable & continued monitoring of the pipi harvest was required, Zac Lewis even advise that size limit restrictions. Fisheries used these studies to promote the public message that the current harvest is sustainable, & that they do not have enough funding for further studies or to improve.
However, in July 2013 a local community group, assisted by Victorian National Parks Association, commissioned Dr Greg Parry, an experience Marine Ecologist & Director of Marine Ecological Solutions Pty Ltd, to investigate the two previous studies by Fisheries. Dr Parry has many years experience with Fisheries/DEDJTR, & found that the current harvesting cannot be claimed to be sustainable. This report was presented to Fisheries & Fisheries are yet to act. In a news article from 'The Star' on 8 Oct 2013 the DEDJTR was quoted saying 'The department stands by the previous studies and is satisfied that the fishery is sustainable and we will continue to monitor'.
Venus Bay Community:
Many visitors to the Cape Liptrap Coastal Park beaches witness a lack of compliance to fishing regulations, including over harvesting, use of tools & rubbish dumping. When incidents are reported to Fisheries it is handle with contempt and disbelief. Residences & visitors have been treated poorly by Fisheries/DEDJTR & often their concerns are dismissed. Fishers/DEDJTR have fostered a slander campaign accusing anyone complaining to be racist & over reactive.
Fisheries/DEDJTR's response to both silence & influence public concern was to form a Community Reference Group (GRP), where the attendees were immediately given cultural awareness classes. When the linked petition was presented to the CRG (which included senior Fisheries, DEDJTR & Parks representatives) it was concluded by many of the attendees that the petition was a racist campaign & dismissed of any real importance. Most of the attendees had not even read the submission before making this serious accusation.
What community members witnessed:
- No pipis on the beach & are now very hard to find
- Increase of in harvesters (including bus loads) - Christmas day being the most popular
- Any size pipi being harvested
- Full buckets of pipis being emptied into esky's in the boot of parked cars, & the harvester returning to the beach for more
- Tools being used to harvest
- Individuals taking more than their legal limit
- Beaches swamped by harvesters
- Parks Vic staff no longer assisting the enforcement of fishing regulation
- Lack of law enforcement & limited Fisheries staff available to supervision is inadequate for the numbers of harvesters
- Alarming increase in littering on the beaches & in car parks
- Harvesters using the beaches & sand dunes as a toilet, leaving behind waste & tissue
- Harvesters park all day leaving no parking for recreational users of the beach
How much revenue did fisheries make from harvesters:
We can only guess - this has now changed due to few pipis remaining, so the harvesters have moved on.
At No.5 beach: An example: Melbourne Cup Day 2014 there was approx. 100 cars with harvesters
- 100 cars parked, with a minimum of 5 people per car
- $6 each for a online licence
- DEDJTR potentially raised revenue of $3,000 for the one day at No.5 beach
- Multiply this by 5 beach access points = an estimated revenue of $15,000
- Multiply this for every Saturday & Sunday for 9 months a year & the revenue could be $585,000 per annum.
Why do Fisheries Victoria claim there's 'No Funding' available for further research, an no funding available for more staff to adequately supervise the pipi harvest?