Feral goldfish removal from Vasse River

VOLUNTEERS from Australia’s fishing conservation charity OzFish have begun a restoration project to remove feral goldfish from the Vasse River. The initiative, spearheaded by the OzFish Geographe Chapter, will utilise innovative techniques, including the use of pod traps, to safely capture and remove these invasive fish while minimising disruption to native species. 

While these familiar pets may seem harmless in indoor tanks, when released into the wild, they can wreak havoc on delicate ecosystems. In the Lower Vasse River alone, feral goldfish weighing up to 2 kg and measuring over 40 cm have been recorded, ranking among the world’s largest. 

A large population of feral goldfish in the Lower Vasse has had a serious impact on native fish populations and there are concerns they could impact the ecosystem balance in the Ramsar-listed Vasse Wonnerup wetlands. There is a risk the population may spread into other local tributaries which feed into the wetland further downstream.  

OzFish Program Manager for WA, Steve Pursell, is coordinating the project and appreciates the strong connections many locals feel towards the river. “We will utilise the power of community to bring the Goldfish issue in their river under control.” 

 “Goldfish degrade natural ecosystems and do not belong in Aussie waterways,” said Steve Pursell. 

“These opportunistic feeders’ prey on native fish species, compete for resources, spread fish diseases and contribute to poor water quality by disturbing sediments. 

“These fish have large mouths and a unique feeding behaviour where they sift through mud at the bottom of the river. This disturbs the sediment, releasing nutrients that can trigger harmful algal blooms. They also prey on eggs of our native fish,” said Steve. 

Improving water quality in the Vasse is vital and is an important issue for the Busselton community, particularly in our increasingly arid climate.  

“Goldfish removal is just one piece of the puzzle. We hope this project will empower community members to take positive action to make our local waterways more favourable for native fish than they are for these pests, including the right habitats and water quality,” stated Steve. 

Local support for the initiative has been instrumental, with Line in the Sand and Shelter Brewery providing crucial funding and rallying community participation. 

“Line in the Sand was created to raise much-needed funds for local projects which protect and preserve our precious region. We are excited to see this OzFish project move from planning into action,” said Howard Cearns.  

OzFish is looking for more recreational fishers to volunteer their time and be involved in this important project for their local Vasse River. To take part, join the Geographe Chapter here. 

This project is generously funded by Line in the Sand and Shelter Brewing and supported by BCF – Boating Camping Fishing. If you would like to know more or get involved jump on the OzFish website and join as a member 

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