Communique 11 May 2022

The Freshwater Fisheries Working Group met for the second time on 11 May 2022. The Chair welcomed and outlined the objectives of the meeting.  Members gave a general introduction and update from their respective sectors and/or regions.  Fisheries Queensland provided a general update on freshwater and compliance activities.

The working group discussed development of a list of ten priority items for further consideration by Fisheries Queensland. Working group members again raised the issue of a recreational fishing licence and recommended that this be considered as an option. Fisheries Queensland advised that there was no current policy position to introduce a recreational fishing licence and that there was no proposed extension to the SIP Scheme at this time to cover all fresh waters. Other issues discussed included compliance resourcing, the provision of Mary River Cod fingerlings, tagging of Mary River cod, pest fish research and response, including competition stocking of native species.  The working group will further develop a list of priorities out of session.

Working Group members welcomed input from the Deputy Director General Mr Graeme Bolton and the Executive Director Mr Dallas D’Silva during this discussion. The working group was asked to review, discuss and provide advice on a proposal to allow bow fishing in Queensland. The working group advised that bow fishing would not be appropriate for many areas in Queensland and was unlikely to have the broad community support necessary to achieve regulatory change. The members advised that this method of fishing would not substantially increase the take of pest fish and could lead to off target impacts and the most efficient way to catch pest fish was still using current recreational fishing methods.

The working group was asked to discuss and provide advice on possible strategies to reduce fishing interactions with non-target species. The working group noted that the majority of anglers do the right thing and that the current rules are appropriate. The group noted that there may be a need to increase education and compliance through the use of social media and other communications methods. The group also noted that it may be worth looking at expanding the range of people who can retrieve non-compliant or abandoned fishing apparatus (e.g. as first nations rangers and dam operators).

Working Group members and Fisheries Queensland discussed possible future concepts for improving freshwater fishing in Queensland with the ED Fisheries with members expressing their appreciation for this engagement.

The working group discussed strategies to modernise freshwater fishing and stocking associations. Members noted that there were a broad range of issues that have impacted stocking groups, including ongoing support and coordination, and that this matter should be further explored at the stocking workshop to be held at Mackay in October. Members noted that there was no simple answer to the issues raised but advised that consideration should be given to assessing the appropriateness of the current model moving forward.

Dr Andrew Norris, Principal Scientist, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries provided an update on recent research into fish attracting structures for stocked impoundment fisheries. One project investigated the effectiveness of different types of fish attractors for  Australian Bass and Golden Perch in impoundments to improve recreational angling experiences. Another project demonstrated an almost 3-fold increase in barramundi abundance at sites where fish attractors were installed. These results demonstrated that both species used the fish attractors as habitat and their abundance at fish attractor sites generally increased. The results were combined with studies from overseas to develop a best practice guideline for the use of fish attractors in Australian impoundments.

The working group raised a number of topics during general business to be discussed at future working group meetings including:

  • future research priorities, with the working group to develop a list of gaps and priorities,
  • a bag and size limit review for freshwater fish,
  • new species for impoundment fisheries
  • a hatchery accreditation and quality assurance scheme,
  • a discussion on insurance, administration and administrative support mechanisms for stocking groups
  • a discussion and presentation on native ornamental species as alternatives to non-native aquarium species
  • a presentation on the Victorian model for freshwater research,
  • a presentation on waterway barrier triggers and future planning
  • Management of pest fish
  • The Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme

The next working group meeting is tentatively scheduled for October 2022 after the freshwater workshop.

The Freshwater Fisheries Working Group members are:

Fisheries Queensland (Chair- Tony Ham, Director Management and Reform – Kimberly Foster, Principal Fisheries Manager – John Dexter, a/Fisheries Manager (Freshwater) – Thomas Hart), Agri Science Queensland (Andrew Norris), Biosecurity Queensland (Tim Lucas), Water Operators (Chris Delamont, David Roberts), Fish Stocking (Garry Fitzgerald, Ian Leighton, Joe Legrady), Recreational Fishing (Ross Williamson, Peter Delaforce, Kaidon Anderson), Water Use and Community (Chris Joseph), Aquaculture (Brett Smith, Bruce Sambell, Craig Cluff), Conservation (Merilyn Thomas), Pest Fish (Nicole Whysall), Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island Communities (Tanya Kirkegaard), Murray Darling Basin Authority (Greg Ringwood) Science and Research (Stephan Gabas).