Karma heads needed to prevent exotic fish releases

There is growing concern among anglers about so-called “karma” fish releases following growing reports of exotic fish species turning up in waterways well outside of their natural habitats. 

“Karma” releases involve the releasing of fish, usually exotic fry or small fish, into our waterways – a practice that is a custom among some Buddhists who view the liberation of  animals (fish) as an act of compassion that will be rewarded with good karma.

This follows on from Fisho’s reporting of barramundi being mysteriously encountered in Sydney Harbour over winter last year. See story HERE

In a related report, Ashley Thamm, a member of Bass Sydney, was at a weir on the Nepean River near Penrith this month when three people came down to the river with half a dozen large plastic bags filled with water and a few hundred fingerlings.

“They were just about to release the first of the fingerlings when I asked them what they were doing. They identified themselves as Buddhists and they said they were going to release the fingerlings. I explained to them that they aren’t allowed to release the fingerlings as they were silver perch. They got a little defensive, trying to explain that they are a native fish and they are doing good, so I explained why they shouldn’t continue the practice. They said they’d made sure they were native fish and the fish farmer had assured them that they could buy and release as many as they like, in fact they’ve been doing it quite a bit.”

This incident might explain the aformentioned reports of barramundi in Sydney Harbour and the Lane Cove River and silver perch and barramundi being caught in the Parramatta River above the weirs in the Parramatta City centre.

It has been revealed that Industry & Investment NSW receives applications each year from groups who wish to release fish for religious or ceremonial purposes. In the past NSW Fisheries has provided such groups with a permit to stock species endemic to the waters proposed to be stocked and observed the stocking event.

Over the past few weeks I&I NSW has indicated the department plans to step up its education program on this issue.

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