Another mass fish stocking for Macquarie River

Wayne Gilbert releasing the yellowbelly fingerlings.

MORE than 64,000 yellow belly (golden perch) have been released into Macquarie River, following the December release of 50,000 Murray cod fingerlings, born from fish rescued from drying stretches of the Macquarie River during the drought.

Inland Waterways OzFish volunteers said that although 64,000 yellow belly have been released today, one single healthy breeding golden perch in the wild can lay 500,000 eggs in a year, so the answer to truly thriving rivers is healthy habitat and natural flows. In a healthy river, golden perch will populate far more successfully on their own, as females between 2.2kg and 2.4kg produce about half a million eggs per spawning event, with fish above 2.5 kg producing well in excess of this number.

An insurance population of 60 brood stock golden perch were rescued and freighted to the Narranderra fisheries centre when river conditions became dire in 2019, following intense drought conditions and a cease to flow in some stretches of the Macquarie River. Local volunteers from Inland Waterways OzFish partnered with NSW DPI – Fisheries in a massive rescue operation to secure the insurance brood stock population, in an effort that saw over 700 native fish rescued.

Three consecutive fish rescue efforts were launched in 2019, when the Macquarie River was reduced to a series of toxic, drought-stricken pools, resulting in a large-scale fish kills. 25 rescued Murray Cod from 70cm up to 106cm were selected as brood stock with an appropriate genetic base to breed from, along with the 60 golden perch.

With plenty of help from numerous local landholders, and assisted by specialist DPI staff from Warren locals, and the Sofala CAS, the local Dubbo volunteers assisted with a variety of methods including electro-fishing, netting and line fishing to successfully capture and relocate a substantial number of native fish. The teams also relocated hundreds of freshwater mussels.

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