On September 1st, new regulations governing the use of domestic netting to protect household fruit-trees, vegetable gardens, or other fruiting plants came into effect. The regulation does not apply to sale or use of netting in commercial circumstances.

The regulation were brought into effect to protect birds and wildlife which can become trapped in the netting. Netting is a popular way to protect fruit on trees and household plants from hungry wildlife. However,  inappropriate types of netting can kill or injure animals such as birds, possums or flying foxes. Animals become entangled or trapped and their struggling can cause deep cuts or strangulation often leading to death. Reducing the mesh size of netting greatly reduces the risk of animal entanglement.

Netting used for domestic purposes must have a mesh size of 5mm x 5mm or less at full stretch. The regulations make it an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations (2019) to use, advertise or offer for sale netting which does not comply with the regulation relating to mesh-size.

Many residents will have large, bulky stores of netting which can no longer be used and which must be disposed. The plastic netting should not be burned but disposing of the netting in landfill may pose risks to animals, particularly birds that visit landfill sites. The netting is designed to be very durable and will remain a hazard for a considerable time unless it is disposed carefully. Netting should be wrapped tightly and tied with twine to prevent it from unravelling. Place the netting in a tough, biodegradable bag.

Small quantities can be deposited in your domestic waste bin. Larger quantities attract standard charges at Shire transfer stations. Old netting is not recyclable so do not place it in your recycling bin.

Compliant netting is available from Daylesford Hardware and Timber and from Bunnings in Ballarat. Daylesford Mitre 10 expects stocks of compliant netting to arrive in time for the fruit season.

A 4m x 10m net will cost between $30 and $40.

For more information visit the Agriculture Victoria website.