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“Fishcare Victoria was awarded as a joint winner of the Victorian Coastal Council Awards 2018 for the work we did with Project Banjo Action Group, VRFish, FutureFish, Boating Industry Association of Victoria and the VFA on protecting banjo sharks and rays.

The Victorian Coastal Council is appointed by the State Government of Victoria in accordance with the Coastal Management Act 1995 to provide strategic advice on Victorian coastal management.

The Victorian Coastal Council Awards recognise and reward the efforts of individuals and community groups to protect and enhance our marine environments.

This award is a great win for the whole team, and especially for those involved in Project Banjo: PT Hirschfield, Anthony Morton Project Banjo Action Group (pictured left), Jo Klemke Victorian Fisheries Authority (pictured middle), and Jacquie Younger Project Banjo Action Group (pictured right).” (Content and below image taken from the VFA Facebook Site)

“Large rays are iconic residents and local identities at many piers and jetties in Port Phillip Bay. These animals are much loved and highly regarded by locals, tourists, divers, snorkelers and many fishers.

In recent years, these marine creatures along with many harmless, smaller fiddler rays (‘Banjos’) have been found injured or dead beneath the piers. Of concern was the common but illegal practice of injuring and discarding the rays beneath the piers, often with their wings removed.

Project Banjo Action Group swung into action, lobbying for changes to legislation, education, enforcement and signage. Through careful, collaborative engagement the Group partnered with the Victorian Fisheries Authority, FutureFish, the Boating Industry Association Victoria and Fishcare to consult with recreational fishers, environment stakeholders and the community across the Victoria.

Project Banjo Action Group initiated a high-profile community conversation via social and print media, radio and an online petition that attracted 33,000 signatures. Social media was the primary avenue for information sharing and engagement, enabling messages to spread quickly and widely, from local residents, divers and anglers through to national and international individuals and interest groups. The Victorian Fisheries Authority’s public consultation on proposed new ray fishing rules received 1,200 submissions from across Victoria, interstate and some internationally, the vast majority supporting increased protection.

As a result, the new rules were introduced, providing increased protection for rays across Victoria’s marine waters especially around the piers, jetties and breakwaters Victoria’s stingrays, with practical education and enforcement solutions in place. ” (Text from Victorian Coastal Council Website – http://www.vcc.vic.gov.au)

Fishcare developed a series of awareness raising resources including stickers, information brochure and a calico bag that has been given out to students, anglers and communities surrounding our bays. (Resource designs below).

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