Edwardes Lakes swan death prompts questions about Victorian government youth fishing kits

Edwardes Lakes swan death prompts questions about Victorian government youth fishing kits
  • PublishedDecember 16, 2023

Friends of Edwardes Lake president and wildlife rescuer Kate Jost said the community was mourning the loss of Evie, a black swan, who on Monday succumbed to an infection after a fishhook became lodged in her leg.

But Ms Jost said it was reflective of a trend, as she had noticed a “steep increase” in fishing-related wildlife injuries in recent weeks at Edwardes Lake in the suburb of Reservoir.

“Incidents have gone from zero to 20,” she said.

Ms Jost suspected the rise in incidents had coincided with the rollout of the Victorian government’s Little Angler Kit program.

The government has provided 95,000 fishing kits to Year 5 students across the state since the middle of the year.

The kits include a rod, tackle box, and a fishing booklet.

Xray of a swan's feet with a fish hook in the left foot
Evie the black swan died after getting an infection from a fishhook.(Supplied: Kate Jost)

“We’ve seen a lot of youth fishing around the lake,” Ms Jost said.

“I have been picking up fishing line, picking up fishing hooks — and then it all made sense.”

Calls for better education

Ms Jost said the initiative was “not a well-designed program” and the state government needed to take accountability.

“They have given a blanket box of fishing rods to every school, based on how many Year 5 students they’ve got, with very minimal instruction other than a booklet,” she said.

“The students have no mentors on how to fish, the ethics around catching a fish, the potential harm that can be caused to wildlife while fishing.”

Ms Jost said the state government should commit to funding further fishing education.

‘This will not just affect Edwardes Lake,” she said.

“Perhaps there’s a little bit more in the tank to do some education to rectify this.”

A person holds a fishing rod. There is blue ocean in the background
Thousands of fishing kits have been handed out to primary school students across Victoria.(ABC News: Ian Redfearn)

Ms Jost says the community in the meantime will rally behind Kevin, Evie’s partner, who also resides at the lake.

“I’m so sad for him. We will be very much looking after his welfare,” she said.

City of Darebin Mayor Susanne Newton said fishing was banned at Edwardes Lake.

“We’ve got signs up around the lake asking people not to fish. It’s really not the place for it,” she said.

She also questioned whether there was enough education provided to students about using the fishing kits.

A photo of Edwardes Lake in Reservoir
Fishing is banned at Edwardes Lake in Reservoir.(Supplied: Kate Jost)

Fisheries Authority offers additional bins

Outdoor Recreation Minister Steve Dimopoulos said the government was facilitating a variety of educational events and resources to ensure young people safely used the kits.

“The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) provides information at fishing clinics, community events and through funding to organisations like Fishcare Victoria, to ensure young fishers are educated on how to dispose of fishing line and equipment responsibly,” Mr Dimopoulos.

About 52,400 angler kits have been distributed across the state, with an expected 42,000 kits still to be delivered.

“Across Melbourne, 20 lakes and rivers are regularly stocked with a range of fish including, trout and native species like Murray cod, golden perch, estuary perch and silver perch, to create accessible, year-round fishing opportunities for families.,” Mr Dimopoulos said.

SOURCE: ABCNEWS

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