[ASC-media] Hi-tech tracking of Shoalhaven fish begins

joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
Thu Sep 27 01:37:34 CEST 2007

NSW Department of Primary Industries

Hi-tech tracking of Shoalhaven fish begins

Researchers have released the first of 60 fish fitted with high-tech 
tracking devices back into the Shoalhaven River as part of a major NSW 
Government study of their biology, ecology and the effects of 
environmental flows.

Last Sunday 64 anglers in 34 boats lent a hand to the research by catching 
more than 200 of the target species for the research, Australian bass and 
estuary perch.

The anglers were from the Southern Bass Fishing Club and the Basin Lure 
and Fly Clubs and they held a fishing competition to help catch some of 
the fish needed for the study.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries researcher Chris 
Walsh said conditions were perfect and the size of the catch exceeded 

?We were able to cull the fish back to the 40 that would be best suited to 
the research, and the rest were measured and released back into the area 
they came from.?

Transmitters were surgically inserted into 20 fish, which were then 
released, and another 20 are being kept in holding tanks at the Wollongong 
University prior to their release in about two weeks.

Mr Walsh said the bass were found in the upstream parts of the Shoalhaven, 
indicating that they may be heading towards fresher water.

Last week listening stations were placed along the river, and these will 
be used to monitor and log the fishes? movements; every time a tagged fish 
passes a listening station its unique code is recorded.

?This will help us confirm, for instance, that the bass are now undergoing 
their return migration to fresher water, after having come down to the 
estuary to spawn in winter.?

Mr Walsh said the movements of the tagged fish will be monitored over the 
next two spawning seasons. 

There is limited knowledge of the migration cues, including timing and 
location of spawning of either species in the Shoalhaven; hence the 
researchers will examine inter-annual movements and annual spawning 
migrations, and the relationship with salinity levels and river discharge.

Two parallel studies are being undertaken. One is by NSW DPI and 
Wollongong University on the biology and ecology of Australian bass and 
estuary perch in the Shoalhaven. This is also supported with funds from 
anglers through the NSW Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust.

A second study by the Department of Water and Energy is investigating the 
effects of environmental flows on the upstream migration of native fish. 

The NSW Government announced a revised environmental flow regime for the 
Shoalhaven River earlier this year to better protect flows in the river 
system and provide an additional 30 GL of water per year for Sydney by 
harvesting of high flows.

Joanne Finlay
Science Communication Specialist
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Head Office
Locked Bag 21
Phone: 02 6391 3171
Fax: 02 6391 3749
Email: Joanne.finlay at dpi.nsw.gov.au
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