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Freshwater Fishers to Benefit from Growing Stocks

AUSTRALIA - The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is predicting significantly increased fish numbers and fish growth in inland waterways over coming seasons thanks to the perfect storm of extensive fish stocking, coupled with widespread good rains during the past two years.

Senior Inland Fisheries Manager, Cameron Westaway, said anglers are about to reap the rewards of years of stocking inland rivers and dams now that water levels have improved.

"Almost five million fish were released in 2011-2012, bringing the total number of fish bred by DPI and commercial hatcheries over the past four years for release into the states waterways to more than 20 million," Mr Westaway said.

"Species released for recreational fishing include Rainbow trout, Brown trout, Brook trout, Atlantic salmon, Golden perch, Silver perch, Australian bass and Murray cod.

"Protected species such as Trout cod and Macquarie perch have also been released as part of conservation stocking programs."

Mr Westaway said the chances of a much greater proportion of those fish surviving and growing to maturity have significantly increased thanks to the drought-breaking rains throughout NSW over the past two years.

"Improved fish habitat and more feed has enabled survival rates to increase and improved growth rates, rewarding anglers in most inland areas in coming seasons with the best fishing for many years," he said.

"Breeding activity amongst existing fish stocks in rivers is also increased, providing a further boost to populations and leading to long term recovery across our inland fisheries.

"While the situation in the upper and middle sections of inland waterways has improved, fish numbers have dropped in western floodplain waterways inundated during flooding earlier this year.

"Poor water quality as the floods receded led to fish kills in some areas, but we are hopeful that the better conditions will encourage fish to spread back down stream to repopulate these areas."

Most of the fish released in NSW were bred by DPI at the Gaden Trout Hatchery at Jindabyne, the Dutton Trout Hatchery near Ebor, the Narrandera Fisheries Centre and the Port Stephens Fisheries Institute.

"Around 3.8 million fish were bred and released by DPI in 2011-2012, with local acclimatisation societies providing voluntary assistance for most trout releases," Mr Westaway said.

"Commercial hatcheries also produced almost one million fish which were released by community groups, with funding assistance provided in most cases through the DPI Dollar for Dollar Native Fish Stocking Program."

Charlotte Johnson

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