RECENT fish kills have attracted more than their fair share of negative press, but in the MIA there is some good news.
Aquna Sustainable Murray Cod (Aquna) has released more than 200,000 native fingerlings into the Murray-Darling Basin this month at several locations in the upper Murray and Riverina.
Grong Grong hatchery manager Ian Charles labelled the restocking program as vital.
“I think it’s hugely important,” he said.
“Especially when fish stocks are slipping away and numbers are dropping.
“This is a way to help boost those numbers in the system.”
Currently there is a commercial fishing ban on wild Murray Cod due to over-fishing in the late 1800s through to the early 1930s.
Explorers and early settlers were astounded by the abundance, size and delicacy of Murray cod and relied on the fish as a source of fresh food.
From the 1860s, a large inland commercial fishery developed, based mainly on the Murray and Murrumbidgee rivers.
Protection of wild Murray cod stocks through commercial fishing regulations was introduced in NSW and Victoria in the 1990s.
Targeted restocking of Murray cod fingerlings has proven effective in addressing declining numbers.
As one of only five businesses accredited by the NSW DPI Hatchery Quality Assurance Program, Aquna is in a unique position to contribute.
“It’s probably something a lot of people don’t know we do … it’s not just about growing and breeding the Murray Cod to then sell on to our markets,” Mr Charles said.
“This work is just as important.”
Mr Charles said the fingerlings that had been released would be able to be tracked thanks to improvements with DNA, which will allow their progress to be recorded.
In addition to the government restocking partnership, Aquna supports several angling groups to assist them with restocking their fishing area.
Mr Charles said with recent fish kills being highlighted in the media, it was likely Aquna would sit down with authorities “at some point” to see how it could help restock the numbers in those areas.
“It’s something we would need to discuss with the relevant authorities,” he said.
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