This is part 3, of a 3 part article by Norm Halliwell – missed part 1, youcan readhere – Part 2 can be read here

This scenario is a FACT that did and does exist in Lake Eacham in NorthernQueensland.

They, the authorities, did not feel that introducing “tagged” Barramundi intoLake Eacham would be a good idea, and yet, they did exactly that byintroducing “untagged“ Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) into Hazelwood pondage tocreate a Barramundi Fishery in the Southern States of Australia, see Scenario2 for more information.

Scenario Number 2.

The Queensland Fisheries Department and/or stocking agencies suddenly andinexplicably introduced the Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) into the Hazelwood“Coal Fired” Power Station pondage in Victoria when initial acclimation trialswere conducted in 2015 to release some 6800 mostly 30cm specimens of thisspecies, sourced from a commercial aquaculture farm, and they weresuccessfully created, hoping that the Barra would eradicate the ornamentalfinfish that existed there.

It is apparently fine to eliminate ornamental finfish where possible, and alsofine to eradicate at native Rainbowfish from Lake Eacham, as the introductionswere terrific “on the end of a line”.

The intension of this pondage release, was so that Victorian and other staterecreational fishermen could catch this species without spending thousands ofdollars to travel to far North Queensland to spend heaps of dollars onairfares, accommodation costs and other expenses to catch this iconic species.

The Fishery was opened on 9/12/2017 as a ballot fishery where some 26000registrations were received from some 3500 fishermen to fish from boats, whileshore fishermen had to have a license to fish this pondage. Some specimens ofthis fish when landed had grown to around 87cm in a 9 months period, which wasan extraordinarily tremendous growth rate, to my way of thinking, as all theornamental finfish including all the cichlid varieties were eradicated. TheFishery attracted more than 5000 anglers to the pondage over a 4 month periodsupposedly contributing over $700,000 to the local community. Brett Ingram etal 2019.

So, it would appear that if Government and/or stocking agencies are makingintroductions, no matter where, and it can financially benefit a localcommunity, then it is totally acceptable. Well I do not believe they should beallowed to do such things.

However, higher authorities than the Queensland Fisheries Department and/orstocking agencies had other ideas, with the Hazelwood “coal-fired’ PowerStation, in so much as this power station was closed on 31/3/2018, for varyingreasons. Following the closure the water temperature declined rapidly fromaround 30 degrees celcius to under 15 degrees celcius in 1.5 months.

To avoid mass fish mortalities, which was going to be inevitable, and it was,commercial electrofishing was undertaken to capture as many fish left aspossible, which were euthanized. Some Barramundi (Lates calcarifer) wereobserved in the Summer of 2017, but none have been reported since. The“stench” of rotting and decaying fish bodies would have been overwhelming, andthe Government instrumentalities should be admonished for stocking anAustralian iconic species into this pondage. The $700K figure that thisFishery was said to have produced would not have been, but should have beenreduced by the electrofishing and the clean-up costs needed to remove dead,

moribund, and decaying specimens from this Pondage. Brett Ingram et al2019.This cost would have been enormously expensive to clean up. This scenariowas a FACT, as it did happen!

What I would like to know is where was the Victorian Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA)whilst this was going on or even the RSPCA that are supposed toprotect all live animals. Obviously these organisations turned a “blind eye”when such instances occur.

To add insult to injury, this pondage became a coldwater environment, and inSeptember /November 2017, the Victorian authorities released some 8000 Rainbowtrout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) fingerlings into this pondage. Weeks after theywere introduced, surveys could not find a single specimen as they wereobviously eaten by the remaining Barra still present there. But, rainbow troutare now present in this fishery, supplied by Snobs Creek fish hatchery inVictoria, so they must have removed all Barramundi (Lates calcarifer), or theysimply died out in this pondage, due to heavily reduced temperaturescontained therein.

Again, it would appear that Government instrumentalities in various States ofAustralia simply have the right to “dump” finfish species all over theContinent, without impunity whatsoever. And they call our Aquarium Industryirresponsible.

I will let the reader of this article make up their own minds as to whichIndustry is responsible or irresponsible in these stocking instances, theAquarium Industry, or the Government and stocking agencies!!

I know what my choice would be!!

The striped grunter (Amniataba percoides) was released into the Upper ClarenceRiver in Northern NSW by a Queensland Stocking agency as a contaminant in withSilver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) fingerlings. These two species as fingerlingslook entirely different to one another that “BLIND FREDDY” could have seen thedifference. This grunter species is now becoming a PEST species in the upperClarence River by out-competing other native species around it in the ClarenceRiver. This Grunter species was thought to have been released by the AquariumIndustry but when I looked into it, it was soon found to have been “dumped”there by the Queensland Stocking agency that were not very diligent in itsoperations in “dumping” species like this one into the environment.

So now, all aquarists in NSW cannot have possession of this species in in-house aquariums, as this Grunter species has become the only native finfishof Australia that is now declared as noxious in an Australian State, namelyNew South Wales. This must be a first for any native species to be declaredas such. A pitiful state of affairs, I say.

I have also found that the Striped grunter (Amniataba percoides) has beendeliberately released into the Hinze dam in Queensland where it is nowbecoming a PEST species there (R.McKay pers.comm.). I predict that thisaccount of impacts to the environment and introductions will be followed byothers when the legacy of stocking programs are fully known and documented,as we only hear of these impacts after the event rather than for theseorganisations to learn from previous mistakes, well before the event.

All members of the Australian Society of Fish Biologists should be contactingall the State Fisheries Department all around Australia in order to bring in arule/s or a proclamation that Fisheries

Departments and/or stocking agencies should refrain from translocating nativeand non-native finfish species willy-nilly all-around Australia due to theenormous damage that these introductions have done, and are still doing to theenvironment of this country. All states should have their own stocking rulesand not allow other State Fisheries Departments and/or stocking agencies tointroduce native and non-native finfish into their own environments withoutproper authorisation, especially the Queensland Fisheries department and/orstocking agencies in that State that seem to feel it is their “god given”right to carry out such introductions, as it would appear that there are nomore places left in Queensland to do this so they are venturing elsewhere todo these

translocations.

There-fore to finalize this paper, otherwise I will not finish, our AquariumIndustry MUST not accept these, heavy handed “biased” decision makingpolicies/regulations that may be levied onto it, when all GovernmentInstrumentalities and stocking agencies, and the like, get away withtranslocating Native and Non-Native finfish species into the environment allaround Australia, causing tremendous damage wherever this is done , withoutimpunity!

Biblography:

Barlow et al 1987: Implication of translocated fish and the apparentextinction of the Lake Eacham Rainbowfish, Melanotaenia eachamensis: Journalof Marine and Freshwater Research Vol.38, pp897-902.

Brett Ingram et al 2019: The rise and fall of the Hazelwood pondage areaBarramundi Fishery. How the changing-fate of a coal-fired Power generationaffects tropical fish in a temperate environment. Australian Society of FishBiology Conference 2019 (Canberra, 14-18 October 2019).

Corfield et al, 2008: Review of the impacts of introduced ornamental fishspecies that have established wild populations in Australia. Prepared for theAustralian Government Department of the Environment, Heritage, and the Arts

Damien Burrows: Translocated Fishes in streams of the Wet Tropics Region,North Queensland in Distribution and Potential Impacts. Rainforest CRC Feb2004

Duguid et al 2005: Wetlands in the Arid Northern Territory- AustralianGovernment Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Arts. pp359.

Michael P Hammer et al 2019: Establishment of Siamese Fighting Fish on theAdelaide Floodplains: First serious invasive fish in the Northern Territory,Australia.

IUCN 1996. Red List of threatened animals by Baillie et al 1996.

Lintermans M. 2004: Human-assisted dispersal of Alien Freshwater Fish inAustralia. New Zealand Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research 38:p481-501.

Monthly Fishing Magazine March 22, 2019.

Ornamental Fish Update Dec 2010: Important information regarding NOXIOUS fishin NSW.

Queensland DPI Database figures.
Rolly McKay (pers.comm).

Puckridge et al 1999: the role of hydrology in the ecology of Cooper Creek,Central Australia: implications for the flood pulse concept. PH. D. Thesis,the University of Adelaide, Australia.

Pusey et al 2006. An overview of the impacts of translocated native fishspecies in Australia. Department of Environment, Water, Heritage and the A

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