Daniel Andrew’s Labor Government has committed to Victoria’s Sustainable Hunting Action Plan, a document that sets out measures to grow hunting and hunting opportunity in the state.
The long-awaited release of the Sustainable Hunting Action Plan (SHAP) followed a dinner at Parliament House where Field & Game Australia and the Australian Deer Association were briefed by Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, and newly appointed Game Management Authority (GMA) chair, Brian Hine.
Funded in the 2016–17 Victorian Budget, the four-year plan sets out a $5.3 million investment to support more than 50 000 Victorian game hunters.
It sets out practical objectives for the GMA, the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, and Parks Victoria in coming years.
These include promoting responsible hunting, improving hunting opportunities and maximising the economic, environmental and social benefits.
“This is a significant milestone for game hunting in Victoria and will be used to guide government and recreational hunters into the future,” Minister Pulford said.
“It’s vital that we continue working hard to ensure that people who want to hunt can do so in a safe, sustainable way.”
Field & Game Australia general manager David McNabb welcomed the release of SHAP but said the real test would be delivery of outcomes under the plan and, given recent history, the organisation reserved judgement.
“This is the only course available to FGA, based on experiences in 2016 where a commitment to a modified season was made by government, without foundation on science, evidence or data,” he said.
“That commitment was taken at face value by hunters and plans put in place to make the most of the modified season imposed on hunting. The real issues then emerged from the management actions imposed to limit the impact of hunting on small populations of rate, threatened or endangered waterbirds, actions imposed using unprecedented mechanisms to cancel hunting (Lake Elizabeth SGR) or assumptions (bittern at Johnson Swamp State Game Reserve).
“The practical result of the actions taken by government and its agencies is to minimise hunting, and we have now seen where the statements and the actions don’t align.”
Hunting continues to grow in popularity and makes a significant contribution to the Victorian economy. An estimated $439 million flows into towns and regional centres across Victoria, supporting about 3500 jobs.
The major initiatives in the plan are:
Facilitate game meat processing by investigating and reducing barriers to the processing of wild harvested game meat to allow optimal use of game harvest.
Develop a sustainable hunting research strategy for Victoria in order to better inform decisions about the current status of game resources, sustainable harvest levels and the impact of hunting activity.
Implementation of a waterfowl conservation harvest model using the best scientific methods to predict the impact of environmental factors and hunting on game duck populations.
Improve State Game Reserve habitat by building on an audit of all State Game Reserves, developing management principles to maintain quality habitats, and establishing two demonstration sites in collaboration with hunting organisations where the new management principles will be put into practice.
A single, comprehensive hunting website, an improved distribution network for a new hunting manual, and the upgrading of the game licensing system to allow for more targeted messaging to hunters.
Improve seasonal announcements by effectively communicating information to stakeholders when seasonal variations are required or areas are temporarily closed to hunting. Early advice will be provided through the Victorian Game Hunting App, Twitter and Facebook.
Conduct a study every five years to determine the contribution of hunting to the economy.
Improve hunting location knowledge by: developing a map set for Victoria showing where different game hunting can occur on public land; improving signage on State Game Reserves; and improving signage on other public land where hunting is permitted, including national parks and high-use state forests.
Expand pest hunting by exploring further hunting opportunities by game licence holders at State Game Reserves, subject to appropriate pest control protocols.
Develop an online game system that allows online processing and payment of game licences.
Develop a deer management strategy that sets a strategic plan to maintain sustainable hunting opportunities while reducing the impact of deer on biodiversity on all land tenures in the state.
Support the Australian National Hunting Archive by helping the Archive develop an electronic catalogue system of historical information easily accessed by the public.