Cod mecca mo­nop­oly

Lake Eil­don’s spring bonus - only wa­ter­way open for Mur­ray cod

Mansfield Courier - - NEWS -

CAN Lake Eil­don be­come the Mur­ray cod cap­i­tal of Vic­to­ria?

Cer­tainly, it will be able to lay claim to this ti­tle through­out spring, as it will be the only place in the state peo­ple will be able to catch and keep the sought af­ter na­tive fish species.

From Septem­ber 1 through to Novem­ber 30 in­clu­sive, there is a closed sea­son on Mur­ray cod across the state, ex­cept for Lake Eil­don.

The de­ci­sion by the State Govern­ment to ex­empt the lake from clo­sure is hoped to draw more recre­ational an­glers to the re­gion.

Ac­cord­ing to the govern­ment, fish pop­u­la­tion sur­veys and an­gler re­ports in­di­cate Lake Eil­don is emerg­ing as a high qual­ity mixed fish­ery with a grow­ing pop­u­la­tion of stocked na­tive fish, in­clud­ing Mur­ray cod.

“We stock Lake Eil­don with ap­prox­i­mately 80,000 cod fin­ger- lings each year, and from 2011 to 2013 that was more than a mil­lion a year,” said Fresh­wa­ter Fish­eries man­ager An­thony Forster.

“Mur­ray cod live for a long time - 30 to 40 years - and we will con­tinue to stock for a long time.

“The main cod fish­eries such as the Mur­ray, Lake Nil­la­cootie and the Ovens and Goul­burn rivers will con­tinue to have a closed sea­son, so we hope that fish­ers will head to Eil­don for late win­ter/spring fish­ing.”

In 2015, a large-scale re­search project as­sessed the stock­ing suc­cess of Mur­ray cod (and golden perch) in sev­eral lakes and rivers.

It found that in Lake Eil­don, 99.6 per cent of Mur­ray cod were from stock­ing, in­di­cat­ing that nat­u­ral re­cruit­ment was very low.

“The lake is very deep and cold, so cod will spawn in the rivers and streams which con­tinue to have a closed sea­son, but are not re­ally spawn­ing in Lake Eil­don,” Mr Forster said.

The key ra­tio­nale for re­mov­ing the Mur­ray cod closed sea­son at Lake Eil­don in­cluded:

a closed sea­son is in­tended to pro­tect breed­ing Mur­ray cod, which is not rel­e­vant to Lake Eil­don where breed­ing suc­cess is min­i­mal;

the Lake Eil­don Mur­ray cod fish­ery is pri­mar­ily reliant on fish stock­ing ie it is man­aged as a stocked ‘put and take’ cod fish­ery;

re­mov­ing the cod closed sea­son at Lake Eil­don will cre­ate new spring­time fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties; and

fish­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion and as­so­ci­ated tourism in the re­gion is ex­pected to in­crease, which is con­sis­tent with the State Govern­ment’s Tar­get One Mil­lion plan that aims to get more peo­ple fish­ing, more of­ten. It’s hap­pened else­where too. The change mir­rors a New South

Wales de­ci­sion to re­move the Mur­ray cod closed sea­son at Copeton Dam, which has proved pop­u­lar with an­glers and fish­ing de­pen­dent busi­nesses.

Like Lake Eil­don, re­search found most of Copeton’s Mur­ray cod were stocked fish and not the off­spring of wild Mur­ray cod.

This ini­tia­tive at Lake Eil­don will be tri­alled over 12 months.

With more avail­able fish, more fish­ers will be at­tracted to Lake Eil­don thus pro­vid­ing a tourism bo­nanza for places like Bon­nie Doon, Goughs Bay and Howqua In­let.

“The plan is very much about the ben­e­fits to places like Mansfield from the in­crease of fish­ers to Lake Eil­don,” Mr Forster said.

“The State Govern­ment is com­mit­ted to de­liv­er­ing its Tar­get One Mil­lion plan for recre­ational fish­ing, which aims to grow par­tic­i­pa­tion to one mil­lion an­glers by 2020.”

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