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Anglers Praised For Helping With Fish Migration Study


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The participation of anglers has greatly contributed to the success of a study on the migration patterns of fish along the Murray River system and they are being asked to keep up the good work.

NSW Primary Industries Minister, Ian Macdonald, said angler reports of tagged fish and release of tagged fish since the start of fish tagging in the Murray River system in 2001 had proved very valuable.

“Fish tagging is providing vital information on the movement patterns of native fish, which will help manage their populations. It will also provide important biological information on introduced species, which can be used to develop better methods for their control,” he said.

Freshwater Fish Ecologist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Fisheries, Dr Lee Baumgartner said NSW DPI aquatic ecosystems scientists, together with their counterparts from the Victorian Department of Sustainability and Environment and the South Australian Research and Development Institute, have tagged fish along the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers with microchip tags similar to those used to tag pets.

"Automated tracking stations that record the movement of fish through fishways are being progressively installed along the Murray River.

"Unlike previous tagging studies that relied on recapturing the fish, the tracking stations automatically record the location of the fish as they swim through the fishway.

"The fish have also been externally tagged with yellow tags that can be easily recognised by anglers. Contact details to report the recapture of tagged fish are printed on each tag,” he said.

NSW anglers who catch a tagged fish in the region are asked to freecall 1800 185 027 to report the date of the catch, tag number, place of catch, length and species of fish. Alternatively, anglers can report their catch online at http://www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au/science/Freshwater_Tagging

During peak fishing periods, scientists have been receiving more than 100 tag returns in a week. Dr Baumgartner said that although receiving so many responses can slow down the processing of tag replies, anglers could rest assured that all reported captures would receive a response.

“Anglers are being asked to keep up the good work and if they report their catch, they will be posted the details of the original tagging location and rewarded with a 75 millimetre ‘Oar-Gee’ plow lure, which is a Murray cod specialist,” he said.

Since the tagging of fish began in 2001 more than 10,000 fish have been tagged and released into the main channel of the Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. A further 500 fish have been tagged in the Shoalhaven catchment.

“This large scale tagging of fish will be ongoing at numerous rivers within NSW for a number of years,” Dr Baumgartner said.

Species to be tagged include native fish such as Murray cod, silver perch, golden perch, Australian bass, catfish, mullet and bony bream, and introduced fish such as carp, goldfish and redfin perch.

Anglers who clean their catch may also find a microchip in the shoulder of these species. Each microchip contains a unique number and fish can be identified if anglers are able to return the tag.

Automatic tracking stations have been installed at Euston Weir, funded by the Recreational Freshwater Fishing Trust, and at locks seven, eight and nine, near Wentworth, funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission.

The installation of automatic tracking stations will continue until they are installed at all weirs along the Murray River, and also at some sites within the Murrumbidgee and Shoalhaven Rivers.

Dr Baumgartner said initial results showed that some fish have moved more than 500 kilometres along the Murray River in as little as three months and as far as 1700 kilometres during a two-year period.

“Fish are also moving between different river systems, and have even ventured up the Darling River,” he said.

Photos are available. Contact:

Media officer: Sarah Chester 02 6036 2110, 0417 207 669

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