Communique 30 November 2022

The Freshwater Fisheries Working Group met for the third time on 30 November 2022. The Chair welcomed and outlined the objectives of the meeting. Members gave an update from their respective sectors and/or regions. Fisheries Queensland provided a general update on freshwater, women in recreational fishing and compliance activities.

The working group discussed and provided preliminary advice on potential additions to the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme. It was noted five dams applied to be part of the Stocked Impoundment Permit Scheme. The working group identified that Lake Manchester had access issues and therefore, may have limited benefit to the SIPS. There were questions about Paradise Dam and the presence of vulnerable species. However, it was noted this dam and the catchment has been stocked for a significant period with minimal issues. In summary, Enoggera Dam Reservoir and Mount Morgan Dam were supported, Paradise Dam generally supported noting the ecological issues, while Ross River Dam needed to resolve some access issues. Lake Manchester was not supported due to access issues. The impoundments will now be considered by the SIPS working group before a recommendation is made to the executive for consideration before further regulatory processes can occur.

The working group discussed and provided advice on potential changes to the size and possession limits for Golden and Silver Perch. Two proposals discussed were an increase of the minimum size of golden perch from 30cm to 35cm and an increase of the possession limit of silver perch from two to five in major stocked impoundments. It was noted that currently most freshwater fish have the same size limit which makes it easier to understand the rules. The working group recommended that the biology of the species should dictate the minimum size limits. An increase to 35cm would allow more of the population to mature, increasing chances of individual fish breeding. The working group supported the increase of golden perch from 30 to 35cm based on the biology of the species. It was noted Fisheries Queensland would consult with fish stocking groups in western Queensland as part of further public consultation before any changes are considered.

For silver perch, the recommendation of the working group was to potentially increase the limit to five in certain stocked impoundments as they are put, grow, take fisheries. Outside of these impoundments the working group recommended silver perch be nil take, particularly in the Murray Darling Basin. It was noted further consultation would be undertaken before any changes are considered.

The working group noted the current management arrangements for non-indigenous fish and discussed potential clarifications for further consideration by Fisheries Queensland. It was noted there was some confusion in interpreting current arrangements for non-indigenous fish and fishers can struggle with what part of the regulation to apply at what time. The working group identified there needed to be increased education regarding this issue, especially in systems where there are vulnerable species. Natural range expansion also needed to be considered. It was noted legal stocking of some species outside of their natural range may also contribute to the misunderstanding of a species native range. The working group recommended a more detailed catchment-based approach is required to provide greater clarity based on risk.

Samantha Tonissoo and Luke Becker from the DAF Impact Assessment and Management team gave a presentation about waterway barrier works and the importance of fish passage. Luke and Sam both answered questions from members of the working group and agreed to follow up on some of the issues raised. The presentation was well received by the working group.

The working group noted the consultation draft policy for adding or removing seasonal closure exemptions for catadromous fish and discussed issues for further consideration by Fisheries Queensland. Several suggestions were made to improve the draft policy and provide greater clarity of the policy statement. It was noted there will be further opportunities to comment on this policy as part of broader consultation.

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

  • Non-indigenous fish
  • Continuation of discussion around waterway barrier works
  • Pest fish internal working group update
  • Future freshwater research priorities

The next working group meeting is tentatively scheduled for March 2023.

The Freshwater Fisheries Working Group members are:

Fisheries Queensland (Acting Chair- Peter Kind, A/Director Management and Reform – Sian Breen, Principal Fisheries Manager – John Dexter, Fisheries Manager (Freshwater) – Thomas Hart, Fisheries Officer (Freshwater) – Christelle Legrand, Senior Fisheries Manager – Tim Lucas), Agri Science Queensland (Andrew Norris), Biosecurity Queensland (Hayden Ferguson), 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).