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Sustainable Fisheries Research Facility Opens

AUSTRALIA - Teaching fish to fear predators, controlling invasive fish species and restoring the threatened jungle perch in the wild are among the first tasks to be undertaken at Bribie Islands latest addition to the aquatic research fraternity.

Opened today, the Sustainable Fisheries Research Facility at Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries’ (QPIF) Bribie Island Research Centre (BIRC) will focus on freshwater fisheries research that will compliment innovative aquaculture projects already underway at the centre.

Minister for Primary Industries, Fisheries and Rural and Regional Queensland, Tim Mulherin said the location of the new multi-million dollar facility would allow collaboration between aquaculture and wild fisheries research in south-east Queensland.

“BIRC’s status as one of the state’s elite aquatic research centres is boosted by the capabilities of this new facility,” Mr Mulherin said.

“It will encourage scientists to share expertise between the two areas.

“The capabilities of this new facility will help us achieve our goals of sustainably managed fisheries and productive aquaculture industries.

“The gross value of production for aquaculture in Queensland is forecast at $85 million this year, which shows there is already huge demand for the growth of the industry,” he said.

Mr Mulherin said scientists at the Sustainable Fisheries Research Facility were also investigating habitat management, maintaining native species in the wild and ways of eradicating pest fish species.

“The freshwater fisheries research group, relocating from QPIF’s Southern Fisheries Centre to BIRC, will continue to focus on the control of pest fish, including carp and tilapia.

“These pest fish pose a significant threat to our native fish and their fisheries and the challenge of eradicating pest fish requires smart, technical approaches.

“Using judas fish to attract spawning aggregations of carp into large traps and automated feeding hoppers to attract carp into giant traps in warmer months is showing good promise.

“Scientists will also trial the techniques that have been successful with carp on tilapia, one of the world’s worst invasive fish,” Mr Mulherin said.

Animal science general manager Dr Greg Robbins said the work by QPIF scientists regarding fresh water fisheries will help to restore and maintain natural biodiversity in Queensland’s inland waterways.

“This work needs the combined efforts of aquaculture scientists and fisheries specialists.

“The co-location of QPIF aquaculture and fisheries scientists together at the Bribie facility will greatly assist this collaboration.

Dr Robbins said hatchery reared native fish often suffer the highest mortality rates shortly after being released into their natural habitat.

“To help overcome this, collaborative studies within the facility will look at ‘stranger danger’ lessons for young fish, where scientists teach juvenile native fish to fear and avoid predators,” he said.

“Scientists are teaching Murray cod, eel tail catfish and silver perch fingerlings to be wary of spangled perch, golden perch and larger Murray cod.

“If successful, the ‘stranger danger’ program could help rebuild native populations of fish in the wild.

“Another BIRC project aims to reintroduce jungle perch in their traditional habitats in south-east Queensland and restore this popular angling fish to its former glory,” he said.

Dr Robbins said jungle perch breed in saltwater, but migrate as juveniles into freshwater to mature, and adults also return to freshwater after spawning.

“But high culverts, dams and weirs have blocked some migration routes back into freshwater, which has led to the fish disappearing from so many areas,” he said.

the Fish Site Editor

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