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Government to Stop Tilapia Spread in Burnett River

26 March 2012, at 1:00am

AUSTRALIA - The declared pest fish species, tilapia, has been found in the Burnett River at Jones Weir, near Mundubbera, a Fisheries Queensland officier is warning anglers

Last week, during a routine Fisheries Queensland survey, staff observed a number of tilapia. Tilapia were first officially recorded in the Boondooma Dam in May 2000 but, until now, none had been found further downstream.

Recent flooding in Queensland is thought to have brought the fish down the Boyne River from Boondooma dam.

Fisheries Queensland extension officer Rod Cheetham said this is a timely reminder to all anglers to be aware of the fish they are targeting and what fish species are found in Queensland waterways.

"All anglers fishing the Burnett River system should be on the lookout for any strange and different fish species, and in particular declared noxious species like tilapia," Mr Cheetham said.

Once tilapia enter flowing water bodies such as a river they are almost impossible to eradicate. Tilapia are listed in the top 100 of the world's worst introduced pest species.

Fisheries Queensland biologist and pest fish specialist Danielle Stewart knows how much damage these pest fish can have on a fishery.

"Tilapia are prolific breeders and are able to survive in a variety of conditions. They affect native species by competing for habitat and food, behaving aggressively and disturbing aquatic vegetation," Ms Stewart said.

"Tilapia are mouth-brooders, which means that adults protect eggs and larvae in their mouths.

"These larvae can survive in the mouth even after the fish has been killed.

"It is illegal to keep a pest fish, so if you catch one, like tilapia or carp, you should kill it humanely, put it in a bin or bury it. Do not throw it back in the water," Ms Stewart said.

Consuming, using in any way, or keeping whole or any parts of a pest fish is illegal and penalties of up to $200,000 apply.

For more information or to report a pest fish sighting phone 13 25 23 or visit www.fisheries.qld.gov.au

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