Canberra cod kill a mystery

A SCIENTIFIC investigation is underway into a native fish kill in Yerrabi Pond in Canberra’s north.

The Canberra Times has reported that water samples have been taken for analysis from the manmade waterway, following the discovery of dead cod over several days this week.

The ACT’s Environment and Planning Directorate received a report of 19 dead fish. The Environment Protection Authority, a fish ecologist and government vet attended to find Murray cod and a golden perch.

Water measurement and fish samples were taken for further investigation.

A Canberra fisherman reported seeing between 12 and 15 dead Murray cod between 45cm and 50cm long near the western bank of Yerrabi Pond.

The fish were reportedly floating in the water, near the site of an artificial reef consisting of 48 reef balls which were lowered into the pond in January, last year to provide additional habitat for native fish.

Last year a large number of golden perch were also found dead on the pond’s island.

Canberra ecologist and long-time fishing commentator Bryan Pratt said the fish could have died from being mishandled, or from spawning stress.

“It is not uncommon for fish to die during spawning periods. But 12 is a lot of fish to die, so there might be something else going on.

“In a small lake like that, if someone can find 12 dead ones fairly quickly, that means there could be a lot more floating around dead along the shore line.

“I’ve been getting phone calls all day (Wednesday) from kayakers, walkers, anglers, bird watchers and others about dead Murray cod in Yerrabi.

“It now seems as though quite a large number of fish may have died, given that reports of dead fish have come from all parts of the lake. Most fish seem to be in the 50cm to 70cm range.”

Yerrabi pond is a favourite of local anglers because of the scarcity of carp and the good fishing for native species the waterway.

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