victorian barra fishing barramundi farm
Photo: Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Thousands of barramundi die in cold Victorian weather

ABOUT 5500 barramundi have died in the cold weather of southern Australia.

Victorian Fisheries Authority confirmed all but 1500 of the 7000 fish placed in a discharge pond connected to the now-defunct Hazelwood power plant late last year have died. Winter water temperatures dropped to 12C — less than half the desired 26C to 32C temperature range barra prefer.

However, a spokesman for Victorian Fisheries still described the operation a success. “Some barramundi stranded in the cold water section of the pondage died when water temperatures approached 12C,” he said. We estimate at least 1500 fish (could still be there) but there could be more. The barramundi fishery at Hazelwood has been a great success. It’s created exciting new fishing opportunities, attracting thousands of anglers who contributed more than $700,000 to the Latrobe Valley economy.”

The unnecessary death of a Northern Territory icon for the sake of providing a cheap fishing thrill to Victorians has annoyed NT experts. Humpty Doo Barramundi general manager Dan Richards joined local fishing legend and NT News columnist Alex Julius in expressing their dismay at the outcome. Mr Richards, who manages 1.7 million barramundi at his farm, said the fish won’t eat when the water temperature drops below 26C. “This sounds to me, as subjective as it is, like bad planning,” he said. “Barra don’t belong in Victoria. Our farm is in their spiritual home on the Adelaide River so we don’t have to do much to keep them alive.”

Mr Julius said the plan was destined to fail. He said they should have concentrated on stocking the pond with Murray cod or trout.

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