A BOLD plan to establish a viable barramundi fishery in Victoria recently saw the first batch of 1600 barramundi stocked into the Hazelwood Pondage near Morwell, southeast of Melbourne.
This is a big step towards delivering another commitment in the State Government’s Target One Million plan, which aims to get more people fishing, more often. The stocking follows successful tank-based acclimatisation trials that indicated the species could survive in pondage water.
Barramundi are generally only found in northern Australia, however the unusually warm water in the pondage may provide Victorian anglers with the chance to wet a line for the iconic species much closer to home.
Three size classes of barramundi were released consisting of 1000 fingerlings at 5cm, 500 fish at 10cm and 100 at 30cm. Fifteen of the larger fish carry acoustic tags to track their movements so more can be learnt about how the fish behave and their preferred habitats. Several listening stations have been positioned throughout the pondage and will monitor tagged fish movements and log water temperatures.
To optimise the trial, the pondage will be closed to all recreational fishing for six months. This will allow growth rates, diet composition, flesh quality and aggregation patterns to be studied without active fishing pressure. Project partners that comprise the Barramundi Working Group will then consider the results of the trial and, pending the results, progress plans to formally open the fishery in consultation with other recreational users.