Over 20,000 trout cod were released into the Macquarie River at three locations downstream of Bathust. The trout cod fry were bred at the Narrandera Fisheries Centre for the trout cod recovery program, funded by the Recreational Freshwater Fishing Trust.

Trout cod being released into the Macquarie River. Photo credit: Fishing World

Trout cod were originally discovered in the upper Macquarie River and were once widespread throughout southern tributaries of the Murray-Darling river system. However, the species has undergone a dramatic decline in distribution and abundance over the past century. This has been caused by habitat degradation, changes in water quality associated with agriculture, modification of natural river flows by water extraction and competition from introduced species such as redfin perch, carp and gambusia. Additionally, the clearing of Casurina forests along the banks of the Macquarie River has resulted in sedimentation and the destabilisation of the river banks. As a result, trout cod are listed as an endangered species under both NSW and Commonwealth law, and there are heavy penalties for harming or possessing them.

Trout Cod. Photo credit: Conservation Bytes

The re-establishment stocking as part of the trout cod recovery plan aims to promote a sustainable population of the species in the upper Macquarie River above Burrendong Dam. Additionally, the plan aims to raise community awareness, involvement and support for the recovery of trout cod. The recovery program in the Macquarie River below Bathurst began in 2009, and has seen 115,000 trout cod released into the river.

The program follows on the successful stocking of 369,000 trout cod into the mid-Murrumbidgee around Wagga Wagga where there are now signs of natural recruitment from stocked fish. There is a long way to go in the upper Macquarie program to match the Murrumbidgee in terms of numbers and success.
Unfortunately, several trout cod from previous release events in the Macquarie River have been accidentally captured by anglers while fishing for Murray cod. This is a major threat to the success of the program.

If anglers catch or see a trout cod, they are encouraged to report sightings to the NSW Department of Primary Industries Threatened Species Unit,  and record details including name, address, date, exact location and the estimated length of the fish. In order to maximise the chance of fish survival, anglers are advised to keep the fish in the water while removing hooks, and if hooked deep in the mouth, simply cut the line and leave the hook.

Information can be sent by phone to the 24 hour reporting line (02) 4916 3877 or by email to fisheries.threatenedspecies@dpi.nsw.gov.au or www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/species-protection/report-it

Article adapted from the Freshwater Fisher Newsletter February 2015.

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