VIDEO: Giving bream fishing in the Swan more mussel

MURDOCH University has been working on a project to improve the recreational fishing experience in the Swan River by providing and restoring complex habitat and prey communities with funding from the Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund.

Murdoch University began part one of the project by cleaning and re-snagging existing habitat in the upper Swan River to align with the expected mussel spawning cycle. The newly hatched black pygmy mussels, called spat, attach themselves to the clean snags, increasing important prey communities for black bream. A short video of this project can be viewed above.

The second part of this project has commenced in March 2019, with the deployment of a mussel reef, the first of its kind in the Swan River. Not only will this reef increase the diversity of habitat around the flats in the estuary basin, thereby attracting fish through provision of greater food abundance and diversity as well as shelter, it will also improve the general health of the Swan River in that particular location. The mussels, filter feeders by nature, are already attached to these reefs and will immediately begin to consume plankton and non-living material from the water column, in turn improving light penetration and growing conditions for aquatic vegetation plants.

“Mussels can positively affect an ecosystem by its capacity to filter water and greatly improve the health of the water system in which they inhabitant.” Project coordinator Alan Cottingham said.

This trial project will explore the potential for scaling-up of such projects, providing valuable evidence to support future habitat enhancement and restoration projects in other estuaries.

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