OzFish launches freshwater tagging program across Murray-Darling Basin

REC fishos are being given a golden chance to show how valuable they are in the Murray-Darling Basin as part of an innovative new fish tagging project. 

For the first time, a program is entrusting freshwater anglers and river rangers with this important work. 

OzFish Unlimited, together with Charles Sturt University researchers and First Nations groups will spearhead the program thanks to funding support from the Australian Government’s OneBasin CRC program and the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust. 

OzFish is calling on recreational fishers to express their interest now online.  

Volunteers will be required to complete specialist training on fish handling and will be taught how to implant the Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tags with a special tool.  

The first workshop will be held at Deniliquin on November 25 with further events scheduled to take place at Swan Hill and Mildura early in 2024. 

Dr John Conallin who is supporting the project said tagging programs can provide a wealth of data on fish movement patterns, habitat preferences, population dynamics, mortality rates and more. 

“The data gathered will give us a long-term picture of where native fish are moving and perhaps not moving in the Murray Darling Basin. It is critical to help uncover where our energy and focus needs to be to help native fish,” said Dr Conallin.

Braeden Lampard, OzFish’s senior program manager Murray Darling Basin believes it is about time inland recreational fishers were given this opportunity. 

“Australia runs some of the largest and longest running saltwater tagging programs in the world. They’ve been widely used for years with the support of recreational fishers, however for our freshwater anglers along the Murray Darling Basin, this is uncharted territory,” said Lampard.

In contrast to conventional tagging programs in saltwater environments, these tags are designed to emit signals or “ping” when the fish passes through a lock or fishway. 

“Participating anglers will have the opportunity to access the data associated with the fish they tag,” he said. 

The long-term goal is to utilise rec fishers and river rangers in long-term fish tagging programs across the Murray-Darling Basin, integrated into scientific programs as trusted partners. 

Anglers are asked to register now via: ozfish.org.au/nsw-native-fish-tagging-eoi-2023 

This project has been funded by the Australian government OneBasin CRC program and the Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub, the NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing with support from Charles Sturt University, recreational fishers, and First Nations groups. 

If you would like to know more about the project or get involved become a member of OzFish at www.ozfish.org.au or phone 1800 431 308. 

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