27 January 2021

Murray Cod release to improve Lake Ginninderra ecosystem ... and fishing

| Michael Weaver
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Some of the Murray Cod ready for release into Lake Ginninderra.

Some of the Murray Cod fingerlings ready for release into Lake Ginninderra. Photo: Supplied.

The diversity of fish in Lake Ginninderra will be improved with the release of more than 25,000 Murray Cod into the lake last week.

Next month, around 3,600 Golden Perch will be released into Canberra’s southern urban ponds.

The restocking of Murray Cod is required as they do not naturally breed in Canberra’s urban lakes, while it will also help balance the ecosystem with pest species such as European Carp which cannot be returned to any of Canberra’s lakes if caught.

Murray Cod, which is not declared threatened in the ACT but is listed nationally as vulnerable, is part of the ACT Government’s annual fish stocking program which involves about 50,000 fish being released each year into Canberra lakes.

More than 1.5 million native fish have been released into Canberra lakes since 1964 when Lake Burley Griffin was established.

Rebecca Vassarotti with Matt Beitzel

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti with Matt Beitzel, an aquatic ecologist from Conservation Research, with the Murray Cod fingerlings at Lake Ginninderra. Photo: Supplied.

The restocking will not be affected by water quality.

In the past week, parts of Lake Ginninderra were closed to swimmers because of a bacteria outbreak caused by recent rainfall which washes pollutants like dog and duck poo into the catchments.

All parts of Lake Ginninderra have since reopened except for Bargang Beach at the MacDermott Place boat ramp.

Minister for the Environment Rebecca Vassarotti said the introduction of Murray Cod fingerlings will provide lasting environmental benefits by improving the ecology of Lake Ginninderra.

“Our annual fish stocking program is crucial in helping our lakes and ponds continue to have healthy populations of native fish,” Ms Vassarotti said.

“Introducing a large native predator like Murray Cod into our lakes helps balance the lake’s ecosystems that would otherwise consist of pest species, like European Carp.

“Murray Cod do not naturally breed in our urban lakes due to the still water environment, so regular stocking of the species is required.”

The number of fish stocked in Canberra’s lakes depends on a number of factors including the species to be stocked, the size of the water body and previous success of stocking. The results of the regular monitoring of fish populations in Canberra lakes are also used to guide the sustainability of the ecosystem in each lake.

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The Murray Cod is the largest freshwater fish in Australia, growing up to 180 cm long and over 100 kg in weight, although fish around 75 cm and 20 kg are more common. It is a heavy-bodied fish, with a light to dark green back mottled with dark green or black and a white-to-cream belly. Murray Cod are the top predator across their range, feeding on other fish, crustaceans and prey such as birds, mice and reptiles.

Ms Vassarotti said the release of fingerlings will also provide anglers and casual fishers an opportunity to continue to fish sustainably and reduce the impact on populations in other waterways in the ACT.

“We often work in partnership with the National Capital Authority and Canberra Fisherman’s Club to have fingerlings delivered to our iconic lakes,” she said.

“Fish stocked into our urban lakes and ponds also help take the pressure off our fragile natural river populations which are not stocked in this program.

“We are giving Canberra’s anglers a sustainable place to cast a line and unwind while helping to maintain a more natural ecosystem.”

For more information, you can check the ACT Government’s recreational fishing website.

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Capital Retro10:13 am 27 Jan 21

When is the government going to introduce fishing licenses and recover some of the costs?

I mean we have to pay for firearms licenses and the government doesn’t provide taxpayer funded game to shoot.

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