Friday, March 1, 2024

Illegal fishers stop native fish migration

Illegal fishers have been warned to stop trapping and catching fish in restricted fishways in the Macquarie River at Warren, as recent rainfall triggers movement and breeding for a number of native species.

Industry & Investment (I&I) NSW Senior Conservation Manager Sam Davis, said that recent rainfall and higher flows have meant good news for the fish in the Macquarie River this summer, with native species such as golden perch and Murray cod enthusiastic to breed, often travelling many kilometres upstream to find that special place on a snag to spawn.

However, a number of illegal fishers are preventing these fish from moving past Warren weir by illegally entering the fishway, and blocking off sections.

“Fishways enable fish to move up and down the river past weirs to find food, mate and establish new territories, by acting like a large water-filled staircase that enables fish to negotiate the difference in river height caused by a weir or dam,” Ms Davis said.

“During ideal flow conditions, a fishway allows hundreds of fish to move upstream every day. The fishways on the creeks and rivers around Warren are highly engineered and were expensive to construct.

“It can take a fish many hours to travel through a fishway, and unfortunately we believe a few selfish individuals are now rendering the Warren fishway inoperable by placing refrigerator doors, grills and other objects in the fishway to block the movement of fish, presumably for their own gain.”

Freshwater native fish stocks have declined over the past 200 years and methods such as trapping, used to catch fish in the past, are simply not sustainable by today’s standards.

I&I NSW Compliance Director Glenn Tritton said legal methods of catching fish along with fish size and bag limits have been carefully formulated to maintain the sustainability of fish populations.

“Illegal fishing can severely impact on fish stocks and offenders engaged in this type of activity will be targeted and face very heavy penalties,” he said.

“If you are considering engaging in any form of illegal fishing activity, you are reminded that penalties for illegal fishing can range up to $22,000 and 6 months in prison.

“Fishing is a sport and breaking the rules is cheating.”

State Water Senior Asset Field Officer Rob Christoff said the fishway is a confined space with water flowing through at very high velocity at times and is not safe for public entry.

Any persons with information relating to obstructing the fishway is urged to contact Warren Police, State Water or the Fishers’ Watch Phoneline on 1800 043 536.

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