Essential Pest Solutions

Animal Welfare VIC

Orchard Exclusion Netting

Agriculture Victoria

New laws have recently been introduced in Victoria regarding the use of Fruit Netting for household use. We have outlined the changes below, and below are also some recent articles and information that could be of interest to you…

The main points of note include:

  • Applicable to household use only (commercial growers exempt)

  • Mesh size must be 5mm or less.

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Household fruit netting regulations –

commenced 1 September 2021

Orchard Netting

From 1 September 2021, netting used to protect household fruit – trees, vegetable gardens, or other plants must have a mesh size, of 5 mm x 5 mm or less at full stretch.

If you use netting to protect your household fruit or vegetable harvest you will need to comply with this new mandatory requirement introduced under Victoria’ s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2019(POCTA Regulations).

Any existing household fruit netting that does not meet this specification must be replaced with appropriate netting from the 1 September 2021 commencement date.

Don’ t forget that old netting, when discarded, can still be an entanglement risk.If you plan to dispose of old netting to landfill it is recommended that you place it into a strong biodegradable bag first.

The regulation applies to both the sale and use of household fruit netting. It does not apply to sale or use of netting in commercial circumstances.

Failure to comply
with this regulation could result in a fine under the POCTA Regulations. The maximum penalty for using fruit netting that does not comply or for advertising or offering non-compliant netting for sale for household fruiting plants is 15 penalty units ($2726.10 as at 1 July 2021). Infringements of two penalty units ($363.48) and four penalty units ($726.96), as at 1 July 2021, can also be issued for use, or sale, of non-compliant netting, respectively.

5mm x 5mm orchard netting
5mm x 5mm orchard netting

Why has the regulation been introduced?

Fruit on household trees and plants is a tempting treat for hungry wildlife.
Netting is a popular way to protect fruit, but inappropriate types of netting can kill or injure animals such as birds, possums or flying foxes. Netting with a large mesh size is more likely to entangle animals and their struggling can cause deep cuts and strangulation, often leading to death. Reducing the mesh size of netting will greatly reduce the risk of animal entanglement.

What is meant by household netting?

The following guidance has been developed to assist Victorian gardeners and retailers to understand what is generally meant by the use of the term ‘household’ in this context.

Generally, ‘household’ fruit-trees, vegetable gardens, or other fruiting plants are those grown:

  • at residential premises in an urban or suburban area, or
  • at residential premises in a semi-rural or rural area, primarily for personal use (even if some excess produce is shared or sold).

Household’ fruit-trees, vegetable gardens, or other fruiting plants would not generally include those grown:

  • at commercial orchards, or
  • at vineyards, or
  • for a fruit and/or vegetable produce business, or
  • where the objective of growing the trees or plants is to produce a commercial harvest for sale, with the intent to make a profit. The scale of such an activity should be consistent with other commercial orchard, vineyard or produce businesses.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) website contains information that will assist people to determine whether their fruit or vegetable growing activities are a hobby or a business. The ATO makes it clear that there is no single factor that determines if a person is in business. Gardeners’ individual growing arrangements for fruit and vegetable produce will vary, and this guidance does not take into account personal situations. Where appropriate, you should seek independent professional advice.

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