DURING the week I was approached by the media regarding the exotic fish that was found on the shore of Lake Albert.
It was the first that I had heard about it, so I said give me a bit of time to research it and by all means come on down.
For those that missed the tidbit on Wednesday night’s news, following is the media release from DPI.
“The alarming discovery of an exotic aquarium fish in Lake Albert, Wagga Wagga has been made by NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) following a report by an alert fisher to a DPI Fishcare volunteer.
DPI research leader for freshwater ecosystems, Craig Boys, said scientists at DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) have confirmed the fish was a Central American cichlid.
“DPI fisheries scientists from Narrandera conducted a follow-up survey of Lake Albert and found no evidence of surviving Central American cichlids,” Dr Boys said.
“That’s good news, but we are concerned that an aquarium, or ornamental fish, has been found in the lake.”
DPI Aquatic Biosecurity strategy leader, Melissa Walker, said ornamental fish make great pets and has reminded aquarium and pond owners that it is illegal to release them into NSW waters.
“Unwanted fish should be returned to your local pet store, given to a friend or humanely euthanised,” Ms Walker said.
“Releasing ornamental fish into the wild can pose a serious threat to Australia's aquatic biodiversity through pest and disease impacts,”
“Hundreds of native and exotic fish are sold by aquarium suppliers, with the ornamental fish industry estimated to be worth $350 million annually in Australia.
“It’s important to make sure fish, plants and snails in your aquarium or pond are kept clear from our oceans and waterways and be aware that heavy penalties apply to the release of these fish, plants and snails into NSW waters.
“Most aquarium species are not native to your local area or to Australia at all. Ornamental plants and animals which are accidentally or deliberately released into the wild can establish reproducing populations, which may lead to disastrous impacts on local habitats, recreational fishing and aquaculture industries.
“Once established aquatic pests can be very difficult, if not impossible, to eradicate. To reduce the risk of pest incursions some fish species are prohibited for importation, possession and sale in NSW.”
This, my fellow fishermen, cannot be laughed off or thought of lightly.
While this may have been a one off mistake, we have to be vigilant in making sure that we don’t allow this to happen again.
It may have just been a simple mistake of someone not wanting the fish in their tank anymore and put it into the lake as another option, not thinking there was any harm in it.
Unfortunately, that’s what they thought when they introduced carp, redfin, foxes, cane toads, plague minnow, rabbits - and these are only the ones I can think of.
Yes, they have been here for a long time, but that’s because we cannot get rid of them.
This little fish that was found may seem small in comparison but this particular breed of fish are prolific breeders and when they over breed they stunt themselves, very similar to redfin.
A full grown fish that can still breed can be no bigger than 75cm and in plague proportions, will eat everything that our native fish would leaving nothing for any other species.
If you have fish you no longer want in a tropical fish tank, never, under any circumstances, release them into any waterways thinking that it is better than destroying them; give them to a friend, or back to a pet shop, but don’t release them as it could cause huge damage to OUR environment.
As of Thursday this week, cod season is closed until November 31, except at Copeton Dam, where you can mistakenly catch them and return them to the water, but you cannot actively fish for them.
Once again trolling a 150mm to 180mm lure for yellowbelly or redfin doesn’t cut it with fisheries. Wait until the season is open again and then target them.
On a positive note, depending on the way you look at it, $1000 in fines have been issued to two men fishing in closed waters immediately below Keepit Dam near Gunnedah.
Specialist night viewing equipment was used to detect the men about 9pm on August 17 this year which also resulted in two fishing rods and eight golden perch caught in the closed waters being seized from the men.
The fish were found dead and retained as evidence.
The two men from Tamworth were apprehended during Operation DPI Charlie 16 that used two teams of Fisheries officers to deliver high profile attendance of a DPI Fisheries stand at the Ag-Quip Field Days in Gunnedah, along with covert patrols of local waterways during early morning and night time hours.
These patrols led to the detection of a range of other offences in the Gunnedah area resulting in the issue of penalty notices and warning letters.
Many fishing closures exist immediately below inland dams around NSW to protect fish that aggregate below them and become vulnerable to fishing pressure.
Report suspected illegal fishing activity by calling 1800 043 536.