New bream acoustic tagging program relying on input from WA fishos

A NEW tagging project in Western Australia will track the movement of Black Bream in the Swan/Canning estuary and needs the help of recreational fishers.

The “SwanTrack” project involves a collaboration between the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPAW) and Murdoch University’s Centre for Fish and Fisheries Research, and involves setting up acoustic receiver stations that are attached to yellow DPAW buoys right throughout the Swan and Canning system.

The tracking of these fish will help to answer questions about how they use the estuary, such as where the fish are breeding, and the habitats they prefer at different times.

The fish are tracked by placing acoustic transmitters inside each fish that are then detected by the receivers when they pass within a couple of hundred metres.

The tags provide useful information on movement patterns and have the potential to be used for several species. The first project will focus on Black Bream and financial support for honours students has been provided by Recfishwest.

The project will acoustically track black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) using the SwanTrack array to determine how their movements and habitat use relate to the water quality conditions in the Swan River, including how those movements specifically respond to operation of the new oxygenation plants.

Information gathered will be of direct use by managers in understanding fish response to the plants and possibly enable refinement of their operation to maximise their efficiency.

The tagged bream will have a yellow spaghetti tag, although the tags may foul up a bit and discolour, with Murdoch Uni, a tag number and a phone number.

Researchers would appreciate anyone who catches a tagged fish to take a photo and contact them with the catch location, when it was caught and its total length. Contact Stephen Beatty, 9360 2813 or if you catch a fish.

Researchers are also asking that, with the cost involved of the project, people could release those tagged fish, of which there are 55 in the system.

Stay tuned to the Fishing World and RecFishWest websites for more information on this program.

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