Recreational fishers with opera-house nets can swap them for wildlife-friendly open-top lift nets for free at any one of 45 tackle stores throughout Victoria.
Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford announced the buy-swap initiative on September 3, which came into effect on Friday.
The new program will help raise awareness of the impending ban on opera-house nets in all waters, both public and private, from July 1 next year.
The program makes it easy for thousands of keen yabby fishers to swap up to three opera-house nets for three free wildlife-friendly open-top nets.
Open-top nets are permitted in public and private waters, so the rule change next year will make it simpler for fishers who will be able to use the same nets regardless of location.
Opera-house nets are associated with drowning wildlife such as platypus, turtles and native water rats, which can be avoided entirely if open-top nets are used instead.
Unlike opera-house nets, open-top nets feature a 20cm x 20cm gap at their top, which enables air-breathing animals such as turtles to escape.
■To find a participating tackle store, visit: vfa.vic.gov.au/yabbynetswap