Major boost to fish stocking in WA

EFFORTS by Challenger Institute of Technology to help restock Western Australian waters with mulloway and black bream have been boosted by state government funding.

A significant funding boost of $750,000 has been made available to selected projects, including those carried out at Challenger’s Australian Centre for Applied Aquaculture Research (ACAAR), through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund grants scheme.

WA’s peak fishing body Recfishwest said recreational licence fees will be reinvested into high quality fishing research projects along the state’s coastline and in the Swan River to benefit recreational fishing.

The mighty mulloway is a prized catch for any recreational fisher but the abundance of this highly valued fish in metropolitan areas has declined in recent years.

The $280,000 project to revitalise mulloway populations along the west coast will be managed by the WA Fish Foundation, with research and breeding carried out at Challenger Institute’s world-renowned aquaculture research centre.

ACAAR production manager Robert Michael said the first priority of the project is to collect genetic samples from around the state to determine the genetic distribution of the species. This will be used to determine the location of restocking.

The second part will see marked mulloway fingerlings bred and released. These fish should enter the recreational fishery in 2014/15. Mr Michael said the actual amount of fish released will depend on the carrying capacity of the restocking locations, however, expectations are that 30,000 mulloway will be released during the project.

The time between release and recapture will be used to educate recreational fishers about the project as well as develop a mulloway collection program. The collection program will be used to determine the range and movement patterns of mulloway, as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of restocking.

Through the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund, Challenger Institute is also playing a key role in breeding prawns for the Swan River and black bream.

WA Fisheries Minister Norman Moore said a black bream study will help provide a better understanding of the fish’s movement patterns within estuary systems and involve the recreational fishing community in a tagging project to help deliver important data on the species.

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