Fish Stock Plan for the Australian Capital Territory 2015-2020

Fish Stocking Plan for the ACT (PDF)

1  Why we need a fish stocking plan for the ACT 

Native freshwater fish have declined in distribution and abundance in south-eastern Australia since the time of European settlement. Many factors have contributed to this decline with habitat destruction, introduction of exotic species and overfishing often blamed. Surveys carried out by the ACT Government  have shown that Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis), Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii), Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica) and Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) are now significantly less common in the ACT section of the Murrumbidgee River than they were 20 years ago or no longer  occur. Both Trout Cod and Silver Perch, have become extinct in the ACT and are listed threatened species under both the Commonwealth EPBC Act and the ACT Nature Conservation Act.

Canberra is the largest inland city in Australia and its residents are only a few minutes drive from the Murrumbidgee River, other major streams and several urban lakes. Fish stocks in these waters have been affected by a combination of factors including: a) a rise in the number of anglers as Canberra's  population has grown; b) increased efficiency of angling practices, as modern technology has improved rods, reels and lures; c) habitat modification associated with the impact of urban development in the catchments of rivers and lakes; and d) the introduction of pest fish and diseases.

The stocking of recreational fish species in Canberra's urban lakes may aid in the conservation of native species by relieving fishing pressure on the more fragile rivers and streams in the ACT. Stocking lakes with certain fish species also helps to establish a balanced ecosystem in waters where fish  may have been depleted artificially or were not present in the case of new development lakes. For example, heavy metals leaching from the Captains Flat mine killed all the Murray Cod which previously inhabited the Molonglo River. Consequently, when Lake Burley Griffin was formed in 1964 there were no  large predatory fish species remaining. Stocking of Murray Cod has restored the fishery in the lake to a more balanced state by providing a predator for other fish species. Stocked fish may also help in the control of nuisance species such as mosquitoes and leeches.

The developing needs of fisheries management and changes in community expectations and attitudes are reflected in Recreational fishing in Australia  - 2011 and beyond: a national industry development strategy(Australian Government Department of Agriculture 2011) which has the vision that: 'All Australians have the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of a sustainable, healthy and diverse recreational fishing experience.'

The increase in fishing pressure combined with declining fish populations means that better fisheries management is required to ensure future generations of anglers will have viable fishing opportunities. This Fish Stocking Plan for the ACT 2015–2020is one way of keeping the community informed on the philosophy and directions of recreational fisheries management in the ACT. It provides a schedule of species to be stocked in each of the relevant water  bodies as a planning tool for fisheries managers and suppliers.

2 Legislative framework  for planning and management of water resources in the ACT

2.1 Planning  and management of water resources

Planning and management of water resources in the ACT is controlled by both Commonwealth and ACT legislation. The overarching Commonwealth legislation is the Australian Capital Territory (Planning and  Land Management) Act 1988, which through the National Capital Plan, sets the broad framework for land use within the Territory. The Commonwealth is directly responsible for planning and management of land within the Central National Area, including Lake Burley Griffin, through the National  Capital Authority. Recent legislative changes have been made so that the ACT Government is now responsible for water abstraction from Lake Burley Griffin.

For the majority of the ACT, including rivers and urban lakes, responsibility for planning and management of water resources resides with the ACT Government. Broad legislative responsibilities are stated in the Planning and Development Act 2007, and the Territory  Plan. The Act requires that management plans be prepared for all 'Public Land' areas, which include the urban lakes, most urban streams, and the Molonglo, Murrumbidgee and Cotter rivers. The lower part of the Cotter Catchment, formerly under pine plantation, is now included in the Public Land area  under the land use category 'protection of water supply'. Other relevant legislation and policy is the Water Resources Act 2007, the ACT Environmental Flow Guidelines 2006, and ACT Water Strategy 2014–44: Striking the Balance.

Under the Nature Conservation Act 1980 the ACT Government also has responsibilities to protect the biological resources of lakes and streams in the Territory. Whilst the Nature Conservation Act 1980 does not apply to fisheries generally, it does protect threatened native fish species. The local  fish species currently protected under the Nature  Conservation ACT 1980 are: Trout Cod, Silver Perch, Macquarie Perch, Two-spined Blackfish and Murray River Crayfish.

The Fisheries  Act 2000 came into force in September 2000. This legislation removed many of the inconsistencies between ACT and NSW fisheries legislation and provides enhanced protection for native fish species.  The Fisheries Act is regularly updated to reflect changes in understanding of fish management  and zoning changes, for example the increase in size of the Cotter Dam and Reservoir.

2.2 Threatened species

The ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian  Zone Conservation Strategy was published in 2007. The central focus of the strategy is on biodiversity and habitat conservation for rivers and riparian zones, with some consideration of water resource management and recreation (especially recreational fishing) because of their importance in relation  to habitat and threatened species conservation. The strategy is an Action Plan for species that occur in ACT rivers and riparian zones and are declared threatened under the Nature Conservation Act 1980(ACT Legislation), includin Silver Perch, Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch, Two-spined Blackfish and  Murray River Crayfish. The strategy also includes consideration of the Murray Cod, which is not declared threatened in the ACT but is listed nationally as Vulnerable. The Strategy is available from ACT Government Shopfronts and at:

http://www.environment.act.gov.au/cpr/conservation_and_ecological_communities/aquatic_species_and_riparian_zone_conservation_strategy

2.3 Water use and the Territory Plan

The Territory  Plan (2008) (Volume 2, Section 1.8) divides waters of the ACT into three primary water uses: Conservation, Water Supply, and Drainage and Open Space. Within each of these categories, a number of secondary uses are allowed provided they are generally compatible with the primary use. Such secondary  uses or values include recreation (fishing, boating, swimming), aquatic habitat, irrigation, stock water supply and stormwater discharge.

The Territory  Plan identifies the primary use of the lakes and majority of streams in the urban area as drainage and open space, with recreation (including fishing) and aquatic habitat identified as secondary uses or values. The majority of the non-urban rivers and streams have conservation as their primary water  use with secondary uses and values including recreation, aquatic habitat, and stormwater discharge. When evaluating the potential water usage of a particular location, the potential downstream impacts of activities must also be considered. For example, fish stocked into urban lakes may be washed downstream  and end up in the Murrumbidgee River which has a different primary water use to the urban lakes. The Cotter River system is identified as Water Supply Catchment with conservation, waterscape and controlled recreation as secondary uses or values.

3  What are the angling species in the ACT?

In the ACT there is only a relatively small number of fish species sought by anglers. This low number of species is mainly due to the relatively high altitude of the ACT and its location on an inland, rather than coastal drainage system. Consequently there are no fish species present which require access  to the sea during their life cycle (such as Australian Bass or eels). Four indigenous species to the ACT have substantially declined in abundance in the last 15–20 years and some are now very rare or extinct in the ACT. These species are Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch, Silver Perch and Murray River  Crayfish which may not be targeted or kept by anglers.

Three of these species (Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch and Silver Perch) are classified as nationally threatened and of this group only Silver Perch are currently hatchery bred in significant numbers for recreational fishing purposes, usually in impoundments. Substantial numbers of Silver Perch were released  in Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra in the late 1970s and early 1980s but few of these fish were caught by anglers. However, stocking of Silver Perch in Googong Reservoir by the NSW Government has proven successful.

The mainstays of recreational fishing in the streams and lakes of the ACT are the native species Murray Cod and Golden Perch, and the introduced species Brown Trout and Rainbow Trout. Two other introduced species are also sought after by some sectors of the angling community, these are Redfin (or European  Perch) and Carp.

Early experimental releases of two additional fish species, the native Freshwater Catfish and the introduced Brook Trout, were unsuccessful and have not been continued.

4 Who manages fish resources in the ACT?

Conservation Research (CR) within the Environment and Planning Directorate (EPD) manages fish stocks in the ACT for the ACT Government and conducts regular monitoring of the recreational fish stocks in Canberra's urban lakes (Lake Ginninderra, Lake Tuggeranong, Yerrabi Pond and Gungahlin Pond).

Formal responsibility for management of the Lake Burley Griffin fish population lies with the National Capital Authority (NCA) but CR is funded by the NCA to monitor the fishery and provide advice on its management.

The fish population in Googong Reservoir is managed by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries and Aquaculture Branch (NSW DPI) in conjunction with the ACT Government. The fishery is managed under the provisions of NSW legislation in particular the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

CR also undertakes fisheries research in the ACT and has a program to investigate the distribution and abundance of fish species in the Territory. Further information on the recreational stocking and monitoring can be found in the Program Report (http://www.environment.act.gov.au/cpr)

The Government has produced a series of signs and illustrated pamphlets to assist anglers identify and release accidentally caught threatened fish. The signs have been erected at popular fishing locations on the Murrumbidgee and Cotter rivers, and the pamphlet is available from tackle shops, ACT Government  shop fronts and on the ACT Government Website (http://www.environment.act.gov.au/cpr/fish/recreational_fishing_in_the_act/fishing_in_the_act).

5. Current fisheries management in the ACT

5.1 The Urban Lakes

Lake Burley Griffin on the Molonglo River floodplain is the centrepiece of Walter Burley Griffin's plan for the national capital. Subsequent outlying town centre development has included ornamental lakes which have integrated a water quality control purpose aimed at protecting ACT streams from the impacts  of urban development. Some of these lakes and ponds are on streams too small to support natural recreational fisheries (e.g. Tuggeranong Creek and Ginninderra Creek).

Many of the fish species in urban lakes do not encounter the necessary environmental conditions for successful breeding and so they must be maintained by regular stocking. As a consequence, the existing fisheries in Canberra lakes have been created artificially by stocking a variety of native and introduced  angling species with the aim of providing a mixed recreational fishery that is easily accessible to most Canberrans.

The ACT Government stocks approximately 50,000 fish each year in Canberra lakes, and more than 750,000 fish have been stocked since 2000 (Table 1).

Table 1. Species and number of fish stocked into  Canberra lakes between 2000 and 2014

Year

lake

murray cod

golden perch

rainbow trout

TOTAL

2013/14

Gungahlin Pond

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Tuggeranong

11,000*

18,730*

20,636*

 

50,366

2012/13

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Tuggeranong

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Burley Griffin

Point Hut Pond

W. Belconnen Pond

Gungahlin Pond

6,000

31,533*

12,000

6,500

44,067*

3,390#

3,390#

 

106,880

2011/12

Point Hut Pond

W. Belconnen Pond

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Burley Griffin

10,000

37,105*

4,523#

4,000#

 

55,628

2010/11

Lake Burley Griffin

W. Belconnen Pond

Point Hut Pond

Gungahlin Pond

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Tuggeranong

10,000

13,000

100,000*

3,500#

4,000#

8,000

 

138,500

2009/10

Lake Tuggeranong

Lake Ginninderra

Yerrabi Pond

Gungahlin Pond

10,000*

18,000*

30,000*

9,000*

 

67,000

2008/09

Lake Ginninderra

16,000**

  

5,800

2007/08

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Tuggeranong

Gungahlin Pond

15,000*

20,000*

11,000*

 

46,000

2006/07

Yerrabi Pond

Gungahlin Pond

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Tuggeranong

10,000*

10,000*

20,000*

10,000*

 

50,000

2006

Lake Burley Griffin

10,000*

  

10,000

2004/05

Gungahlin Pond

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Tuggeranong

Yerrabi Pond

7,500

4,282

10,000

57,575

 

79,357

2003/04

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Tuggeranong

Yerrabi Pond

Gungahlin Pond

5,000

15,000

10,000

2,000

 

32,000

2002/03

Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Ginninderra

13,000

 

22,250

35,250

2001/02

Gungahlin Pond

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Tuggeranong

5,000

10,000

10,000

 

25,000

2000/01

Yerrabi Pond

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Tuggeranong

Gungahlin Pond

Lake Burley Griffin

5,000

25,000

10,000

30,000

15,000

 

85,000

Total

 

251,417

513,114

22,250

786,781

* Partially funded by Canberra Fishermans Club

# Fully funded by Canberra Fishermans Club

** Partially funded by Canberra Fishermans Club and Tackle World Canberra

In the early years following the establishment of Lake Burley Griffin in 1964, the emphasis was on the introduced species Rainbow Trout and Brown Trout. However, by the early to mid-1980s it was evident the trout stocked in the urban lakes showed poor survival and growth rates, and as native fish became  commercially available, the emphasis on stocking of trout declined.

It is unclear why trout populations in Lakes Burley Griffin and Ginninderra declined but a number of factors have probably played a role. It is common for new lakes and reservoirs to experience a boom in fish populations as newly flooded ground provides an abundance of food for aquatic invertebrates  and hence fish. However, it is also common for the fishery to decline after several years as this initial surge of productivity diminishes.

The introduction of a variety of native angling species and the establishment of Carp has increased competition for food resources and has probably limited Trout survival and growth. The establishment of Redfin in the urban lakes in the early 1980s has also reduced the viability of trout stocking, as  Redfin are known to predate on Trout. Another stress on Trout is habitat suitability, with the urban lakes considered to be only marginally suitable for Trout, a coldwater species, as the summer water temperatures exceed 22C.

Although the emphasis of the stocking program has now shifted towards native species such as Murray Cod and Golden Perch, trout have been stocked occasionally to determine whether lake conditions have changed enough to allow a viable trout fishery to be established. Unfortunately these trout stockings  have not been successful. For example, stockings in Lake Burley Griffin in 1995 (15 000 Rainbow Trout), 1996 (10 000 Brown Trout) and 2003 (22 000 Rainbow Trout) did not result in any captures in the 1997, 1999 and 2006 monitoring programs. Rainbow Trout are still stocked in Googong Reservoir  by the NSW DPI.

5.2 The Natural Streams

Fish stocking is not undertaken in natural streams. The fish populations in the natural streams are what remain of native fisheries that existed at the time of European settlement. Some stocking of introduced species was carried out by acclimatisation societies and individuals in the latter part of  the 1800s and early 1900s but stocking of streams is no longer practised in the ACT except in special circumstances (e.g. a release or relocation of a threatened species for conservation purposes). The major reasons why stream stocking is not undertaken are:

(i)   Most of the native fish species which are sought by anglers in the ACT are migratory and able to move long distances. Research carried out in South Australia in the 1970s demonstrated that Golden Perch can move as far as 1000 km over the spring/summer period and Silver Perch can move  500 km over the same period. Research by NSW DPI has shown that it is not only adult fish that migrate. Large numbers of immature fish were recorded moving through a fishway on the Murray River. These migratory habitats make it extremely unlikely that stocked fish will remain where they are released  and so no local improvement in fishing is likely.

(ii)  The ACT has only limited funds for fish stocking. Funds are prioritised to areas where there is the greatest opportunity to effectively augment the fishery.

(iii) Certain fish species uncommon or declining may be an indication that there are problems in that river requiring attention. It may be that food resources are limited or that breeding habitats are insufficient. The stocking of artificially bred fish into these systems may mask the true conservation  status of our fisheries and destroy an important measure of whether our river management is adequate or improving.

(iv) Some rivers in the ACT support remnant populations of threatened fish species such as Macquarie Perch, Murray Cod, Two-spined Blackfish or Murray River Crayfish. Some of these species are threatened because of loss of suitable habitat or competitionfrom and predation by introduced fish species.  The release of large numbers of stocked fish would simply impose further competition and stress on these threatened species and is thus undesirable.

5.3 Water Supply Reservoirs

The three water supply reservoirs located on the Cotter River in or adjacent to Namadgi National Park (Cotter, Bendora and Corin reservoirs) are not stocked with fish for the following reasons:

(i)   The waters of the Cotter Catchment above the Bendora Dam wall (this includes the waters of Corin and Bendora reservoirs) are managed as fish conservation zones within Namadgi National Park and fishing is prohibited. These waters contain populations of three threatened fish species: Macquarie  Perch, Trout Cod and Two-spined Blackfish.

(ii)  The waters of Cotter Reservoir are closed to fishing to protect water quality, and two threatened fish species: Macquarie Perch and Two-spined Blackfish.

5.4 Other Introduced Species

Two undesirable exotic species, Carp and Redfin, have become established in ACT waters in the last 25 years. The strain of Carp which occurs in the Canberra region was introduced to Australia in the early 1960s and was first recorded in the ACT in 1974. The numbers of Carp quickly increased and the  species is now the most abundant angling species in the lakes and streams of the ACT.

Redfin were stocked into Lake George in 1959 by NSW Fisheries but only became established in the ACT in the early 1980s. The breaking of the drought in 1983 and subsequent minor flooding saw Redfin colonise many new waters locally and they became extremely abundant. An outbreak of Epizootic Haematopoietic  Necrosis (EHN) virus in the late 1980s reduced the Redfin population to relatively low levels and recurring outbreaks of this virus have contained Redfin numbers since then. The EHN virus is hardy and easily transferred on fishing lines and tackle, and is now thought to be present in most waters of the  Canberra region. The virus mainly affects Redfin although laboratory testing has shown that some native species such as Macquarie Perch and Mountain Galaxias, as well as introduced trout species, are also susceptible.

Neither Carp nor Redfin are stocked in the ACT but many anglers actively fish for Carp and Redfin.

Several new research projects are investigating the ecology and impact of Carp, and a national task force and national co-ordinating committee have been established to foster and guide research on this species. The National  Management Strategy for Carp Control was released in 2000 www.mdbc.gov.au/__data/page/1172/National_management_strategy_for_carp.pdf.

Research into a suite of carp control methods, including Koi herpes virus (KHV), is being funded by the Invasive Animals CRC, of which the ACT Government is a member. There is the potential for the release of KHV to have significant impact on carp populations within the term of this plan. CR will closely  monitor the results of Carp research and any potential control options.

5.5 Fish Stocking in Private Waters

In December 1994 the Nature Conservation Act 1980 was amended to require people to obtain a licence to release fish into both public and private waters of the ACT. Landholders who wish to stock their farm dams must apply for a licence and can obtain advice free of charge from Territory and Municipal Services Directorate.

NSW DPI has a Hatchery Quality Assurance Scheme (HQAS) (see s. 7.3 below). Licences for private stocking in the ACT will require that fish be purchased from accredited private hatcheries under the NSW HQAS, or a NSW DPI hatchery in the case of Silver Perch.

5.6 Stocking for Conservation Purposes

There are five threatened fish and crayfish species in the ACT, three which are classified as Endangered (Trout Cod, Silver Perch and Macquarie Perch) and two which are declared under the Nature Conservation Act 1980 as Vulnerable (Two-spined Blackfish and Murray River Crayfish). Each of these four species has an Action Plan (incorporated into the ACT Aquatic and Riparian Strategy), which outlines the management and research needs of the species (ACT Government 2007). Occasionally  a threatened fish species may be stocked into a stream or an impoundment for conservation reasons. The purpose of the stocking is not to provide a recreational fishery, but to assist the long-term survival of the species in Australia. For example, a population of the endangered Trout Cod was stocked  into Bendora Reservoir in 1990 and 1991. This species has declined considerably in Australia in the last 30 years and had become extinct locally in the ACT. The stocking in Bendora will allow the fish to be scientifically studied and hopefully to breed, and is part of a suite of actions outlined in the  national recovery plan for this species.

Since 1996 a total of approximately 150,000 Trout Cod have been stocked into the Murrumbidgee River in the ACT as part of the national effort to re-establish this species throughout its former range. Monitoring for Trout Cod has found that the species has survived to maturity and there is also limited  evidence that the stocked Trout Cod have reproduced. Trout Cod are totally protected in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT and specimens caught accidentally must be returned to the water unharmed.

Translocation may also be considered as stocking. The IUCN Guidelines for  Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations (2012) defines conservation translocation as "the intentional movement and release of a living organism where the primary objective is a conservation benefit." A significant population of Macquarie Perch resides in Cotter Dam reservoir and an  upstream section of the Cotter River. Individuals from this population have been translocated to other locations within the region in an effort to establish other breeding populations and ensure the future survival of this species.

5.7 Stocking for Research Purposes

Occasionally a research project will require an experimental stocking of fish. Examples could include the stocking of a farm dam to establish a population of known age fish, or stocking to examine the suitability of water quality for sustaining aquatic life. Such stockings may not satisfy guidelines  for recreational or conservation oriented fish releases so special consideration would be required for each proposal of this type.

5.8 Karma Releases

The Buddhist practice of releasing captive-reared fish into the wild has become more common in the ACT in recent years. Karma releases have the potential to have serious impacts on native aquatic species from the spread of introduced species and pathogens. The ACT Government welcomes the Karma release  of fish if it occurs within guidelines. The release of live fish into ACT waters outside of these guidelines is illegal and may be counterproductive to the intention of the release. If an unsuitable species is chosen for the release it may soon die due to unsuitable conditions or its inability to obtain  food for itself. Golden Perch and Murray Cod are the species most suited to Karma releases. Guidance concerning Karma releases is being developed and will be made available from the Environment and Planning Directorate website.

5.9 Funding for Fish Stocking

The ACT Government provides funding for the stocking of Canberra urban lakes and the National Capital Authority funds stocking of Lake Burley Griffin. This expenditure is often supplemented with funding from ACT recreational fishing organisations. In recent years the Canberra Fisherman's Club has provided  a regular financial contribution to the stocking program through fundraising efforts including raffles and carp fishing competitions. These contributions have either increased the number of fish stocked as part of the ACT Government's stocking program or provided additional stocking into the smaller  waterbodies of West Belconnen and Point Hut Ponds.

NSW DPI provides the fish for Googong Reservoir as part of their program of stocking NSW waterbodies for recreational angling.

5.10     Fish Stocking and the Territory Plan

5.10.1  Urban Lakes

Canberra's urban lakes and streams have drainage and open space identified as their primary water use with recreation and aquatic habitat identified as secondary uses or values. The stocking of native fish species will provide recreational opportunities in these lakes as well as enhancing their aquatic  habitat values. The lakes are artificial water bodies usually on small streams which do not naturally possess the larger native fish species utilised in stocking programs.

The stocking of these native fish species to the lakes assists in establishing a balanced ecosystem by providing the larger predatory species. These fish species also provide a valuable link in the food chain for aquatic birds such as pelicans, herons and cormorants.

The stocking of fish species in urban lakes can have a beneficial impact on the conservation status of natural native fish populations in rivers and streams. The fishing pressure on the natural stream fish communities is reduced by providing recreational fishing opportunities in the lakes.

5.10.2  Potential Downstream Impacts of Stocking

It is highly likely that a proportion of the fish stocked into urban lakes will be washed out of the lakes into downstream rivers and creeks. The impact of downstream displacement of native species is expected to be minor as only a small proportion of stocked individuals would be displaced, and the  native species stocked are indigenous to the Canberra area. There might be a slight benefit to existing native fish communities downstream as their numbers are boosted by the individuals washed out of urban lakes.

6  Guiding principles for fish stocking in the ACT

The following principles will guide any decision by the ACT Government to stock fish:

(A) Urban  lakes and Googong reservoir

(i)   Fish may be stocked for conservation, recreation and research purposes.

(ii)  Both native fish indigenous to the ACT region and/or non-indigenous fish species may be stocked.

(iii) Non-indigenous species will only be stocked for recreational purposes in the urban lakes. .

(iv) Silver Perch stocked into Googong Reservoir are to be sourced from a NSW DPI hatchery (see s. 7.3 below).

(v)  Rainbow Trout will be stocked only in Googong Reservoir.

(B) Natural  streamS and water supply reservoirs

(i)   Fish may be stocked for conservation and research purposes.

(ii)  Only native fish indigenous to the ACT region may be stocked.

(C) Fish  stocked for conservation purposes

(i)   Native fish may be stocked for conservation purposes where:

(a)  there is a need to maintain or enhance the conservation status of a species;

(b)  stocking will not put at risk the ACT conservation status of other fish species; and

(c)  there is a reasonable expectation that the fish will survive.

(D) Fish  stocked for recreational purposes

(i)   Fish may be stocked for recreational purposes where:

(a)  the water to be stocked is a 'public water' (as defined in section 26A of the Nature Conservation Act) which is open to recreational fishing;

(b)  stocking will not put at risk the ACT conservation status of native fish species;

(c)  there is a reasonable expectation that there is suitable and sufficient habitat and water quality available for survival and growth; and

(d) the level of natural recruitment is insufficient to support a fishery.

(E) Fish  stocked for research purposes

(i)   Fish may be stocked for research purposes where:

(a)  stocking will not put at risk the ACT conservation status of other native fish species; and

(b)  the stocking is part of a recognised research program.

(F) FISH  STOCKED FOR KARMA RELEASES

(i)   Fish may be stocked for the purpose of Karma release where:

a free permit is obtained from the ACT Government;

local native  species are released;

the fish are obtained from accredited suppliers; and

the fish are released into approved waterbodies.

7 The proposed fish stocking program for urban lakes and Googong Reservoir

7.1 Fish Species to be Stocked

Only two native fish species, Murray Cod and Golden Perch, are considered to be suitable for stocking in Canberra's urban lakes. At Googong Reservoir, Silver Perch is considered suitable for stocking in addition to these species. Silver Perch are not considered suitable for stocking into urban lakes  as previous survival rates in Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra have been unsatisfactory. Silver Perch are listed as a vulnerable threatened species in NSW under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 (NSW Legislation). The NSW Species Impact Statement for Silver Perch led to a Ministerial Order allowing recreational fishing to continue in certain specified stocked impoundments including Googong Reservoir. This was on the grounds that the potential impact on  wild populations from recreational fishing in these stocked impoundments would be negligible.

Brown and Rainbow Trout are not considered suitable for stocking into ACT urban lakes, as previous survival rates in Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra have been unsatisfactory. Rainbow Trout will be stocked into Googong Reservoir by NSW DPI because this species has been found to be more successful  in Googong Reservoir than Brown Trout and is thought to have less impact on native fish and frog species.

The ACT Government will maintain a program of stocking native species indigenous to the Canberra region on a rolling three-year rotation with a single species stocked each year into each water body i.e. each species is stocked every third year.

As Silver Perch are not suited to the urban lakes, there will be a gap in the stocking program for these water bodies every third year.

7.2 Numbers of Fish to be Stocked

The number of fish stocked in each water body is dependant on a number of factors including the species to be stocked, the size of the water body, and previous success of stocking. Experience with stocking Canberra urban lakes has indicated what levels of stocking intensity can be sustained. The results  of the regular monitoring of fish populations in Canberra lakes will also be used to guide stocking intensity. Budgetary factors will also affect the numbers of fish to be stocked.

7.3 Source of Fish to be Stocked

The ACT Government does not have facilities or the expertise to carry out fish breeding and rearing. It is not cost effective for the ACT to develop such facilities or expertise given the relatively small numbers of fish required, and the close proximity of a number of commercial fish farms in the Wagga  Wagga and Jindabyne/Tumut regions. The ACT Government will continue to purchase fish from commercial fish suppliers.

Fish will be purchased on a competitive tender basis with a number of factors considered when choosing suppliers. Such factors include hatchery accreditation under the NSW Hatchery Quality Assurance Scheme (see below), cost of supply and delivery, disease history of the supply establishment, facilities  for transporting fish, previous reliability in supplying fish, and size and quality of fish supplied.

NSW DPI has a Hatchery Quality Assurance Scheme (HQAS) aimed at ensuring all fish stocked within NSW waters comply with the statutory environmental, genetic and health requirements set out in the NSW Fisheries Management Strategy. ACT waters are connected to those in NSW and it is appropriate that the  ACT Government also source fish from hatcheries accredited under the NSW HQAS and stock fish from the relevant Golden Perch and Murray Cod genetic zones.

With regard to Silver Perch for Googong Reservoir, almost all Silver Perch produced at private hatcheries are produced for aquaculture purposes and may be second or third generation hatchery fish rather than fish produced from wild broodstock. Under the NSW HQAS, private hatcheries are not allowed to  stock Silver Perch into any public waters in NSW. Only specified impoundments can be stocked and these can only be stocked with fish produced at NSW DPI hatcheries. As Googong Reservoir is NSW water, jointly managed by the ACT Government and NSW DPI and operates under NSW legislation, all Silver Perch  stocked into the reservoir must be sourced from a NSW DPI hatchery.

7.4 Size of Fish Stocked

Generally, native fish species are available only as 'fry' (35–45 mm long), as it is costly and difficult to grow fish to a larger size in commercial fish farms. Consequently native fish for recreational purposes will be stocked only as fry.

Trout are normally supplied as 'fingerlings' (80–120 mm long). NSW DPI stocks Rainbow Trout fingerlings into Googong Reservoir.

7.5 Timing of Stockings

Native fish species indigenous to the Canberra region generally spawn from spring to early summer and the fry are generally commercially available between late December and March.

The proposed stocking program for the period 2014 to 2019 is presented in

Table 2. The stocking rotation has been altered from previous plans to allow for the stocking of the same species into the three impoundments on Ginninderra Creek in any year. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure the proposed program is followed, it should be recognised that fisheries are dynamic  ecosystems and unforeseen changes or events may require the stocking program to be altered. It is important to note that the program is dependent upon availability of fish from the commercial fish farms. In previous years these farms have had occasional production problems, resulting in an inability  to fulfil their commitments to supply particular fish species, thereby necessitating a change to the stocking program.

Species and number stocked into Googong Reservoir will be guided by NSW DPI stocking programs which provide for a larger number of impoundments and rivers and are prone to change due to availability and priorities. For this reason, Googong is not included in Table 2. NSW DPI currently stock limited  numbers of Rainbow Trout into Googong Reservoir.

Table 2. Fish species proposed for stocking in ACT urban lakes.

# NB fish stocked into Lake Burley Griffin are dependent on National Capital Authority funding availability.

Year

Lake Burley Griffin#

Lake Ginninderra

Lake Tuggeranong

Gungahlin Pond

Yerrabi Pond

2014-15

 

Murray Cod

 

Murray Cod

 

NIL

 

NIL

 

NIL

 

2015-16

 

Golden Perch

 

Golden Perch

 

Murray Cod

 

Golden Perch

 

Golden Perch

 

2016-17

 

Murray Cod

 

NIL

 

Golden Perch

 

Murray Cod

 

Murray Cod

 

2017-18

 

Golden Perch

 

Murray Cod

 

NIL

 

NIL

 

NIL

 

2018-19

 

Murray Cod

 

Golden Perch

 

Murray Cod

 

Golden Perch

 

Golden Perch

 

8 References

ACT Government 2007. Ribbons of Life: ACT Aquatic Species and Riparian Zone Conservation Strategy. Action Plan No. 29 (Department of Territory and Municipal Services, Canberra).

ACT Government, 1999. Trout Cod (Maccullochella macquariensis): An endangered species. Action Plan No. 12. Environment ACT, Canberra

ACT Government, 1999. Macquarie Perch (Macquaria australasica): An endangered species. Action Plan No. 13. Environment ACT, Canberra

Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate (2013) Conservation Planning and Research, Program report 2011 – 2013, ACT Government, Canberra.

<http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/576172/Conservation-Planning-And-Research-Program-Report-2011-2013_web.pdf>

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry 1994 The National Recreational Fishing Policy.

<http://www.daff.gov.au/__data/assets/word_doc/0020/6059/nat_recfishing_policy.doc>

Lake Burley Griffin Task Force, 2012. Lake Burley Griffin Action Plan: A Healthier, Better Functioning Lake by 2030

Lowe S. J., M. Browne and S. Boudjelas (2000).100 of the World's Worst Invasive Alien Species. IUCN/SSC Invasive Species Specialist Group (ISSG), Auckland, New Zealand.