Johnstone River - microtagged barramundi.

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Johnstone River - microtagged barramundi.

Post by Big_unit » Tue Dec 22, 2009 10:19 am

Christmas stocking in Johnstone River News release

16 December, 2009

The Johnstone River will be alive with juvenile barramundi following planned stockings of thousands of "microtagged" fish.

These releases of hatchery bred fish, which are part of a new Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) research project, began in November and are continuing this month.

DEEDI principal fisheries biologist John Russell said the research aimed to determine if fish stocking methods in rivers and impoundments were delivering results for barramundi enthusiasts in the best possible manner.

"In the case of barramundi river stockings, we want to ensure they are having no adverse effects on the genetic diversity of the wild stocks or on the natural environment," Mr Russell said.

"Overseas experience has shown that, in some species, inappropriate fish stocking activities can have adverse consequences such as predation on amphibians and other species in the environment."

"We have seen no evidence of any significant negative impacts from fish stocking in Queensland.

"The project aims to provide information to community stocking groups and managers on how best to plan and implement stocking programs."

This work has been made possible under a three-year grant from the Australian Government’s Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC)

Mr Russell said regular stockings had taken place in the Johnstone River in the 1990s and the early 2000s for research purposes.

"In that time we have worked closely with the Johnstone Fish Stocking Society and we hope this will continue with this project," he said.

"It is this extensive and well documented work that makes the Johnstone River such as good place to undertake this study.

"All the barramundi stocked into the Johnstone River, including those already released, were individually marked with a special microtag.

"A microtag is only about 1mm long and a special machine is used to inject it into the cheek muscle of the 50mm long fish before it is released.

"A special scanner, similar to the wands used at airport security checks, is needed to detect their presence.

"The tags allow us to identify if a barramundi caught in the river was originally stocked there.

"The tags will give us information on when and where the fish were released, how fast they are growing and if they are making any significant movements.

"All of this information will give us a much better idea of the effects, if any, that barramundi fish stockings are having."

Mr Russell said the progress of these fish would be monitored through regular research electrofishing surveys in the river.

"A tiny fin clipping from all fish that we catch in the electrofishing surveys will be sent to James Cook University for DNA analysis," he said.

"Geneticists will use techniques similar to those used by forensic scientists to measure the extent of genetic diversity among wild and stocked populations or barramundi of mixed parentage.

"We will track the movements of stocked fish to determine what their preferred habitats are and what they are feeding on."

In the past recreational and commercial fishers provided valuable assistance by keeping fish frames for Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries research.

"We plan to start up a collection program again next year and will be asking anglers to retain the frames of any fish they catch in the river," Mr Russell said.

"We can then retrieve the tags as well as the genetic information we require."


Media contact: David Anthony, 07 4057 3676

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