Black bream on track

Anglers fishing in South Australia’s Coorong region are being called on to help scientists track black bream. Researcher, Matthew Jones, based at the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research in Victoria, Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE), says the information will help scientists improve migration opportunities for the species between the Coorong and the lower lakes of the Murray River.

The work is part of the “Sea to Hume Dam” project funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) and a collaborative effort involving DSE researchers and scientists from NSW and South Australia to improve fish migration along the Murray River.

As part of the program, the MDBA has built fishways at the Murray River Barrages to allow movement of estuarine and freshwater fish between the Coorong and Murray River.

“But scientists have rarely detected black bream migrating through the newly constructed fishways,” says Matthew Jones.

“This tagging study aims to determine why the black bream aren’t using the fishways, by gathering information on their migration cues and patterns within the Coorong region.”

The researchers have installed 13 “listening” stations between Goolwa Barrage and Tauwitchere Barrage, and implanted acoustic tags (pingers) into 30 black bream.
The tags emit sound waves on a unique frequency, which enables the identification of individual fish. Whenever a tagged fish enters the vicinity of a listening station, its number, date and time will be recorded. Scientists can then use this information to plot the movements of fish.
Jones said the system would provide details on where and when each fish moves during a period of about 18 months (the battery life of the tags). As well as providing an insight into black bream movements, he said the research would also provide information on important habitats within the Coorong, and how fish may respond to environmental change such as modifications to flow regimes.

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A receiver used to locate tagged black bream. 

Anglers fishing in the Coorong region can assist the researchers by reporting the capture and release of tagged black bream. If anglers catch a black bream bearing a numbered green tag, they should note the tag number, length of fish, location and date of capture. Then throw it straight back into the water alive, and call 1800 119 194. Participants are eligible to claim a reward.

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A tagged fish being released by a researcher.







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