22 January 2024

Tens of thousands of fishlings released into urban waterways - each with a Dreamtime connection

| Claire Fenwicke
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Bradley Bell releasing native fish

Ngunnawal traditional custodian Bradley Bell assisted with releasing juvenile Murray Cod and Golden Perch fish into Canberra’s waterways. Photo: Supplied / EPSDD.

Reasons for protecting native species often involve environmental and sustainability concerns, but cultural connections are just as important.

This was highlighted during the recent release of more than 90,000 Murray Cod and Golden Perch fishlings (juvenile fish) into urban waterways across Canberra.

Ngunnawal traditional custodians were on hand as part of the release, where Bradley Bell explained native species help connect Indigenous people to their country and identity.

“Their continual survival within our waterways is really important because it connects us right back to our ancestry … [these are some of the] species within our country that sustained our life over thousands and thousands of years,” he said.

“They’re really specific species to us as Ngunnawal people, and they’re what connects us to our neighbouring nations.”

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The native fish were released into Yerrabi Pond, Lake Ginninderra, Gungahlin Pond, Lake Tuggeranong, Lake Burley Griffin and the Isabella and Upper Stranger Ponds.

It’s part of the ACT’s Fish Stocking Plan 2022 – 2027.

Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti releasing fish

Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti explained fish releases had been happening in the ACT since the 1960s. Photo: EPSDD.

Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the release would allow recreational fishers and anglers to fish sustainably and enjoy Canberra’s urban lakes and ponds.

“The ACT Government’s annual fish stocking program is crucial to support healthy populations of native fish in our lakes and ponds and maintain a thriving natural ecosystem in these waterways,” she said.

“Conserving our native fish populations also helps relieve the pressures of fishing on the more fragile rivers and streams within the ACT.

“While we can support great recreational activities like angling and fishing, [we need to] ensure that we’re not depleting our stocks within these waterways.”

Restocking is also beneficial for scientific research.

The ACT’s fish stocking program has been boosting native fish numbers in the Territory since 1964 when Lake Burley Griffin was established.

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Mr Bell said Ngunnawal representatives were always pleased to be invited to be part of such environmental efforts, but that moving forward, they’d like to be even more involved.

He explained his people had expressed their desire to have their own hatcheries on the Murrumbidgee River to protect native fish species from a cultural perspective.

“It’s really important that we get a hold of this now and maintain what we have in our waterways to make sure these species are protected,” Mr Bell said.

“Not only from an environmental and a recreational perspective, but from a Ngunnawal cultural perspective too because a lot of our Dreamtime stories are with these endemic species.”

It’s understood conversations are ongoing with the ACT Government.

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Fish lived before aborigines and don’t need their help now. Shame on everyone involved in this release for pushing a stupid agenda. Just release the fish because it’s good for the environment and recreational fishing and be done with it. Please.

Capital Retro12:04 pm 23 Jan 24

“Environment Minister Rebecca Vassarotti said the release would allow recreational fishers and anglers to fish sustainably and enjoy Canberra’s urban lakes and ponds.”

And pay nothing for that privilege like we have to do in NSW. The Territory urgently needs revenue so how about it, Minister?

Also noticed that the indigenous spokesperson said nothing about the invading trout and redfin that had already eliminated lots of our native fish species.

Not trout in Canberra lakes last carpathon they held they caught zero I used to pull out twenty carp a session now I pull out 2 it’s thanks to stocking efforts because the natives eat the carp and Redfin Canberra is too small for a license scheme though if you want to raise revenue join a fishing club because they fund stocking like this story

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