Call for fish hatch­ery

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - News -

The Wim­mera might have an op­por­tu­nity to rekin­dle a role in Vic­to­ria’s na­tive-fish breed­ing pro­gram if the state’s angling peak body has suc­cess in lob­by­ing for a re­gional hatch­ery.

Vic­to­rian Recre­ational Fish­ing Peak Body, Vrfish, which rep­re­sents Vic­to­rian an­glers, is ad­vo­cat­ing for a pur­pose-built na­tive-fish hatch­ery in north­ern Vic­to­ria.

It has made the call as part its plat­form lead­ing up to the Novem­ber Vic­to­rian elec­tion.

Lake Charlegrark in west Wim­mera was for sev­eral years the home of a Mur­ray cod hatch­ery, its fish pro­vid­ing lakes in the re­gion and beyond with a high-qual­ity fresh­wa­ter al­ter­na­tive na­tive ta­ble species to in­tro­duced trout and redfin.

Many fish with ori­gins in the Charlegrark hatch­ery grew to enor­mous size and be­came the sub­ject of fish­ing folk­lore at pop­u­lar Wim­mera lakes such as Green and Tay­lors.

The heav­i­est of­fi­cially recorded Mur­ray cod caught on rod and line in Vic­to­ria came out of Lake Charlegrark. Vrfish chair­man Rob Loats of Don­ald said the pop­u­lar­ity of na­tive fresh­wa­ter fish­eries had reached new heights thanks to ded­i­cated stock­ing pro­grams in­volv­ing iconic Mur­ray cod and golden perch.

“Un­for­tu­nately, our age­ing in­fra­struc­ture has not kept pace with grow­ing de­mand, lead­ing to many fish stocked in Vic­to­ria pur­chased from com­mer­cial hatch­eries in NSW,” he said.

“We also fear our sup­ply of na­tive fish from NSW com­mer­cial hatch­eries could be un­der threat due to changes in own­er­ship.

“A spe­cific na­tive fish hatch­ery in north­ern Vic­to­ria will bet­ter suit the re­quired grow­ing con­di­tions of our na­tive fish and se­cure the state’s fish stock­ing pro­gram well into the fu­ture.”

The only State Gov­ern­ment fish hatch­ery is at Snob’s Creek at Lake Eil­don, a pro­ject ini­tially es­tab­lished to breed salmonids such as trout in cooler wa­ters 71 years ago.

Mr Loats said an­glers had con­tacted Vrfish in sup­port of an ex­panded na­tive-fish breed­ing pro­gram, in­clud­ing in­creased pro­duc­tion of Mac­quarie perch, river black­fish, trout cod, sil­ver perch and eel-tail cat­fish to im­prove recre­ational fish­ing and to help species re­cover in the wild.

He said Vrfish also be­lieved a new na­tive fish hatch­ery would free up much-needed space and re­sources at the Snob’s Creek Hatch­ery to in­crease the pro­duc­tion of salmonids, in­clud­ing catch­able-sized rain­bow trout stocked in ‘fam­ily fish­ing lakes’. In 2017-18, the State Gov­ern­ment stocked five-mil­lion na­tive fish to cre­ate new fish­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for Vic­to­ri­ans as part of a Tar­get One Mil­lion pol­icy.

BIG: Hor­sham’s Mark O’beirne with a Mur­ray cod he caught at Lake Mul­wala in 2016. The fish is sim­i­lar to the many Charlegrark-bred cod that tro­phy an­glers hunted in Wim­mera lakes dur­ing he 1970s and ’80s.

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