Indoor ponds at the Grafton Fisheries Centre's hatchery.
Indoor ponds at the Grafton Fisheries Centre's hatchery.

BREEDING SUCCESS: Fish saved from brink of drought, fire

THE Grafton Fisheries Centre will become an incubator for some of the state's most threatened freshwater fish species which were rescued amid horrific drought conditions from the Murray-Darling Basin and from bushfires in coastal waters.

About 850 fish from five threatened species have arrived at the centre since the rescue mission and include eastern freshwater cod, purple spotted gudgeon, olive perchlet, oxleyan pygmy perch and Darling River hardyhead.

 

Chris Gulaptis helps release an Eastern Freshwater Cod into one of the new ponds under the watchful eye of fish tech, Mitch Turner.
Chris Gulaptis helps release an Eastern Freshwater Cod into one of the new ponds under the watchful eye of fish tech, Mitch Turner.

 

Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis was on hand yesterday to help move the iconic eastern freshwater cod, which is endemic to the Clarence River system, into their new ponds.

"In August last year the NSW Government embarked on the largest ever fish rescue and restocking program to protect native fish species," Mr Gulaptis said.

"The Grafton Fisheries Centre is now a key part of that mission.

"Breeding of some of these threatened fish will commence later this year, potentially seeing hundreds of thousands of fingerlings produced and able to be restocked when weather and environmental conditions allow."

Mr Gulaptis said these rescues and relocations created a need to reinvigorate the facilities at the centre, which was initially built in the mid-1980s as a multipurpose research facility focused on the conservation and aquaculture of native freshwater fish.

 

Chris Gulaptis with Grafton Fisheries Centre techs and scientists Mitch Turner, Sophie Johns, Gavin Butler (senior research scientist), John St Vincent and Leo Cameron (senior research scientist).
Chris Gulaptis with Grafton Fisheries Centre techs and scientists Mitch Turner, Sophie Johns, Gavin Butler (senior research scientist), John St Vincent and Leo Cameron (senior research scientist).

 

The centre's hatchery was recently upgraded thanks to a $250,000 funding injection from the NSW Government's $10 million NSW Native Fish Drought Response program.

"The Grafton Fisheries Centre's hatchery has undergone a refurbishment and is now equipped to play an integral role in ensuring the survival of the state's iconic native fish species," he said.

"The site houses a freshwater fish hatchery equipped with temperature-controlled holding and spawning tanks, larval rearing facilities, and 19 earthen ponds with screened inlets and outlets for broodfish and grow-out.

"Now, three of the ponds have been reinvigorated, the tanks and water management system have been updated, and essential staff are ready to support the care of the rescued fish ready for breeding.

"Grafton Fisheries Centre will now play an integral role in supporting recovery actions for threatened freshwater fish and stock enhancement of recreational species affected by droughts and bushfires."

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Mann River Caravan Park co-owner Curtis Parker holds his catch of the day an Eastern Cod caught on the Mann River.
Mann River Caravan Park co-owner Curtis Parker holds his catch of the day an Eastern Cod caught on the Mann River.