Identity mix-up threatens trout cod recovery

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) warns that anglers who fail to identify the protected trout cod, and confuse it with the more abundant Murray cod, threaten the endangered species’ chances of recovery.

DPI Director Fisheries Compliance, Glenn Tritton, said trout cod were once widespread throughout the southern tributaries of the Murray Darling system, but have declined steadily over the last century.

“It is offence to take, harm or be in possession of the protected trout cod in NSW, Victoria and the ACT,” Tritton said.

“If anglers accidentally catch a trout cod they should immediately release the fish where it was caught, causing the least possible harm.”

Mr Tritton said it is every fisher’s responsibility to know how to identify trout cod and that ignorance is not an excuse.

“A prominent feature often used to identify trout cod – a dark horizontal eye stripe on the side of the head – is present in both trout cod and Murray cod juveniles.

“Anglers should focus on more reliable features, like the overhanging upper jaw, a long broad rounded snout, a straight head profile and relatively large eyes,” Tritton said.

Cameron Westaway, DPI Senior Inland Fisheries Manager, said DPI has developed a plan to promote the recovery of trout cod in NSW, which includes a stocking program to reintroduce the species into areas where they were once found and to establish breeding populations.

“The conservation stocking program has seen trout cod restocked into the Murrumbidgee and Macquarie Rivers over the last decade,” Mr Westaway said.

“While there appears to be breeding populations in the mid-Murrumbidgee downstream of Wagga Wagga, we are not able to confirm similar populations in other locations.

“The last wild population of trout cod before the recovery program began was found in the Murray River downstream of Yarrawonga Weir to the Tocumwal Road Bridge.

“This area is now a designated Trout Cod Protection Area (TCPA) and anglers are reminded that all fishing is prohibited during September to November within the TCPA.”

Karl Schaerf, Secretary of the Central Acclimatisation Society (CAS), said the protection of trout cod has the full support and co-operation of the CAS.

“Recently, there have been cases in the Macquarie River where people catch what they describe as a ‘strange fish’ that is later identified by an educated fisher as a trout cod,” Schaerf said.

“I encourage anglers to be aware of what they are reeling in, especially when it comes to endangered species like the trout cod.”

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For more information on trout cod, visit and search “trout cod”.

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