6 February 2024

Endangered Macquarie perch thrown a lifeline with 78,000 fingerlings released into Victorian waters

| James Day
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A Macquarie perch fish in a net

Recently there were only two waters in Victoria where recreational fishers could catch Macquarie perch. Now it is fully prohibited across the state. Photo: Facebook/VRFish.

Following the Victorian Government’s decision to prohibit all recreational fishing of the endangered Macquarie perch, more than 78,000 fingerlings have been stocked into the state’s waters to re-establish its wild populations.

The species known by recreational fishers as ”Maccas” was once abundant throughout the south-eastern Murray-Darling system. But over the decades, they have suffered a decline in their population due to a variety of factors, including barriers to fish passage, loss of healthy habitat, diseases, pest species and bushfires.

Now, wild populations of the nationally endangered fish remain in a few isolated waterways, and until recently only two selected waterways in Victoria were available to recreational fishers for catching them.

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The Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA) has implemented a statewide protected status on Macquarie perch, such that none can be caught or targeted by recreational fishers from any waterway in the state.

Minister for Outdoor Recreation Steve Dimopoulos said these stockings were a vital step in rebuilding wild populations so future generations could enjoy these native fish.

“The work being done to crack the code when it comes to breeding Maccas will lead to reliable production and achieving the long-term goal of sustainable recreational fisheries for Macquarie perch in years to come,” Mr Dimopoulos said.

Last year, the VFA launched a three-year research project named Cracking the Code on Captive Breeding of Macquarie Perch. It aims to understand how to consistently produce fingerlings for stocking, by learning more about the best nutrition, hormones and breeding conditions for Macquarie perch to thrive in the hatchery environment.

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The released fingerlings were produced at the Snobs Creek Hatchery near Eildon, which now features a captive-breeding centre due to the government’s $15 million investment. This funding also went into upgrading the Arcadia fish hatcheries, so all Murray cod production could move there and leave Snobs Creek with a greater capacity to produce Macquarie perch.

Nine rivers and lakes were stocked with the fingerlings as part of a VFA program to release 10 million native fish for the second time in three years. Funding was provided by the $96m Go Fishing and Boating Victoria plan and recreational fishing licence fees.

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