Fisheries Victoria Fisheries Management Report Series No. 24

No. 24 August 2005

ISSN: 1448-1693
ISBN 1 74146 552 4

Preferred way to cite this publication:
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2005). Protocols for the Translocation of Fish in Victorian Inland Public Waters. Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series No. 24.

1. Introduction

In December 2003, the Guidelines for the Translocation of Aquatic Organisms in Victoria (the Guidelines) was released to deal with proposals for the deliberate movement of aquatic organisms into and within inland water bodies of Victoria that require approval under the Fisheries Act 1995. The Guidelines provide a structured basis for the assessment of any translocation proposals within a risk-based framework, whether on a one-off or an ongoing basis.

In accordance with the Guidelines, where translocations are likely to be repeated and have similar characteristics in terms of species, transport medium (water), source and destination location, preference will be given to the development of approved translocation protocols. Once approved, the protocols will allow individual translocations, which conform to the protocol, to be approved without the requirement for a case-by-case risk assessment.

This document describes protocols that apply to the translocation of fish, for recreational fishing and conservation purposes. The protocols reflect specific management responses to minimise the risks associated with translocation of this nature.

Separate protocols are outlined for the translocation of native and salmonid species for recreational purposes, as well as the translocation of native fish for conservation purposes. Each protocol specifies the criteria under which common types of translocations will be approved without the requirement for a case-by-case risk assessment.

1.1. Background

The translocation, release or 'stocking' of fish into inland waters has long been used as a fisheries management tool to create or enhance a recreational fishery. Fish are routinely released throughout Victoria and other Australian states every year for this purpose. More recently, fish have also been released as a conservation mechanism to re-establish or supplement existing stocks of a threatened native species, although such releases are far less widespread. In Australia, the translocation of fish originated with the introduction of non-endemic species from the Northern Hemisphere in the late 1800s. The initial reason for most of these 'acclimatisations' was to provide fish for recreational angling as the native fish species were, in some cases, deemed to have 'inferior' recreational fishing qualities. A strong element of familiarity with Northern Hemisphere fish was also involved, as the major initial focus was on the popular recreational species from Europe such as the salmonids and redfin. Many of these introductions have lead to the establishment of self-sustaining populations across large areas of Victoria.

Whilst there was undoubtedly some assisted movement of native species outside their natural range since European settlement in Victoria (e.g. Murray cod and Macquarie perch into the Yarra River, trout cod and Macquarie perch into the upper reaches of Seven Creeks and freshwater catfish into the Wimmera River), the majority of this movement is more recent; and has been undertaken with hatchery-reared juveniles. This practice follows the successful development of artificial rearing techniques for native species that occurred around the late 1970s. For example, juvenile Murray cod, golden perch, silver perch, as well as other species are now readily available from hatcheries. These species are now also encountered outside their natural range in Victorian waters.

A number of these translocated species, particularly the salmonids, are now the basis of valuable recreational fisheries and populations of these species are maintained for that purpose. The translocation of native fish species has also enabled the establishment of new, or the enhancement of existing, recreational fisheries in some areas. It has also assisted in the conservation of native fish species. (Refer to Appendix 1 for an overview of the existing fish translocation activities in Victorian public waters).

1.2. The need for fish translocation

At present, translocation is undertaken for several reasons including:

In the first case, where river restoration activities designed to facilitate natural fish stock regeneration are likely to take many years to be achieved, release of fish is a feasible and complementary interim measure to enhance fish populations for recreational fisheries purposes. In the second case, where a native fish population may be under an imminent threat, the translocation of fish to a more favourable receiving water may be appropriate to conserve the population (e.g. salvage operations in drought affected waters). Finally, translocation through stocking is also a viable means of establishing new fisheries in altered environments not capable of supporting wild populations.

Despite the significant social and economic benefits derived from translocation, there is increasing recognition that the introduction of any fish species, particularly outside its natural range, poses an environmental risk in a number of ways including:

It is now acknowledged that some historical releases of fish have resulted in undesirable environmental impacts that may have been avoided with a more rigorous evaluation of the social, economic and ecological risks and benefits prior to translocation proceeding.

In recognition of these issues, over the past decade, releases of trout and native fish in Victoria have been subject to policy controls designed to maximise opportunities for recreational anglers, whilst reducing or avoiding adverse environmental impacts. There is a need to develop appropriate procedures to deal with future demands for fish translocations in a manner that maximises recreational fishing opportunities and conservation benefits with minimal environmental consequences.

1.3. Policy setting for the protocols

The release of any aquatic organisms into Victorian waters is subject to a variety of national and state legislation; and national or state policies and/or guidelines. In accordance with the objective of 'sustainable use of natural resources' in state and national legislation and policy, the consideration of the risks of translocations is an imperative to protect biodiversity.

In Victoria, key legislation includes the Fisheries Act 1995 and the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act). Authorisation of translocation in private waters is required under the Fisheries Act 1995. The FFG Act most affects translocations where the proposal may constitute an additional risk to a species or community listed as 'threatened' under this FFG Act. Significantly, the FFG Act also lists the introduction of live fish into waters outside their natural range within a Victorian river catchment as a 'potentially threatening process'. As such, 'Action Statements' have been developed to manage the risks identified in potentially threatening processes; and to threatened species. There are a number of Action Statements that require consideration in relation to translocation proposals.

At the state level, the Heritage Rivers Act 1992 and the National Parks Act 1975 also provide guidance in relation to the protection of native biodiversity in considering translocations in inland waters. In summary, the introduction of non-indigenous fauna is not permitted in: natural catchment areas as defined in the Heritage Rivers Act 1992; National Parks, State Parks and Wilderness Parks as defined in the National Parks Act 1975; or reference areas as stated in provisions under the Reference Areas Act 1978.

At the national level, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) identifies the need to consider actions that can impact on matters of national significance, including threatened species.

The framework for assessing and managing translocation risks is delivered through the National Policy for the Translocation of Live Aquatic Organisms 1999. All States and Territories are required to develop guidelines that are consistent with the National Policy. In response Victoria has recently developed the aforementioned Guidelines.

To date, 'stocking policy statements' (DNRE 1998) for trout and native fish have guided the release of fish for recreational fishery purposes in inland Victorian public waters. The development of translocation protocols to guide future releases of salmonid and native fish in inland public waters will replace these policy statements by establishing criteria under which translocations will, or will not, be permitted. Protocols for the management of certain types of common private water translocations will also be developed. For further information refer to the Guidelines.

These protocols have been developed to manage, as far as practicable, certain types of fish translocation; and to provide appropriate protection of the environment whilst maximising social, environmental and economic benefits derived from the activities. The protocols describe a set of conditions under which the risks of translocation are considered minimal, acceptable, or manageable. Hence, the activity will be permitted without the need for an individual risk assessment. Within the framework outlined in the Guidelines, any proposed translocation that does not conform to one of these protocols is required to undergo a risk assessment (to be funded by the proponent); and be considered by the Translocation Evaluation Panel (TEP). Importantly, the use of these protocols, which cover certain types of common translocation activities, has been endorsed by the TEP prior to their implementation.

2. Risk Management

In accordance with the requirements of the National Policy for Translocation, this document was developed within the context of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) objectives and guiding principles (refer to Appendix 3). The purpose of this document is to minimise and manage the risks associated with the translocation of fish in public waters.

In general, these risks can be classified into three categories.

1. Environmental/ecological risks including:

2. Spread of diseases and parasites; and

3. Chemical release.

The following table is a brief outline of each of the risk categories and the proposed management response to minimise the risks as part of these protocols (refer to Appendix 5 for a more detailed discussion on the risk categories and proposed management responses).

Any proposals where the risks are considered to be beyond the scope of the translocation protocols will need to be subjected to an individual risk assessment. The risk assessment process is designed to enable detailed consideration of the proposal with the view to preventing or minimising any potentially significant impacts. The proposal may be modified, refused or permitted to proceed subject to conditions in order to mitigate any identified threats. Where proposals are considered unacceptable or unworkable, for example the translocation of a noxious species or releases in waters permanently closed to translocations (unless the proposal is for conservation purposes – see below), approval will not be granted under any circumstances.

Table 1: Summary of risks associated with fish translocation and proposed management response to minimise the identified risks. Column 4 refers to Criteria in the following section (Section 3: Translocation Protocols) under which the activity will be permitted. The Criteria are designed to reflect the proposed management response to the identified risks.

Risk Category Description Risk Management Response Reference to Criteria (section 3)
Environmental/ ecological risks Genetic shift in wild populations and hybridisation
  • implement best-practice management of aquaculture facilities or wild caught fish;
  • obtain brood stock or translocated wild stock from an appropriate source; and
  • maintain sufficient numbers of brood stock.

3.2.4

3.3.4

  Establishment of feral populations
  • limit the number of species to be translocated;
  • release fish only within the natural range of the proposed species or in waters where the proposed species has been recently stocked (since 1995); or
  • release fish only where there is no identified risk to a threatened species or community (e.g. listed under FFG Act, EPBC Act); and
  • release fish outside the boundaries of National Parks, State Parks, Wilderness Parks, Natural Catchment Areas and/or Reference Areas.
3.1.1
3.1.2(f)
3.1.3(a),(d),(e),(f)
3.2.2(b)
3.2.3
3.3.1(f)
3.2.6
3.3.2
  Adverse interaction with indigenous species and/or habitat alteration
  • limit the number of species to be stocked;
  • stock only within the natural range of the proposed species or in waters where the proposed species has been recently stocked (since 1995); or
  • no stocking where there is an identified risk to a threatened species or community (e.g. listed under FFG Act, EPBC Act); and
  • no stocking in National Parks, State Parks,Wilderness Parks, Reference Areas and Natural Catchment Areas described in the Heritage Rivers Act.

3.1.1
3.1.2(f)
3.1.3(a)(d),(e),(f)
3.2.2(b)
3.2.3

3.2.6

3.3.1(f)

3.3.2

  Translocation of associated species
  • implement best-practice management of aquaculture facilities and fish transport or wild caught fish;
  • obtain stock health certification;
  • treat transport vehicle and medium; and
  • obtain accreditation of aquaculture facilities in future.

3.1.5

3.2.4
3.2.6
3.3.5

Diseases andparasites Possible introduction of pathogens with stocked fish
  • implement best-practice management of aquaculture facilities and fish transport or wild caught fish;
  • obtain stock health certification;
  • treat transport vehicle and medium; and
  • obtain accreditation of aquaculture facilities in future
  • .

3.1.5

3.2.5
3.2.6
3.3.5

Chemical release Possible introduction of chemicals into the receiving environment
  • implement best-practice management of hatchery facilities and fish transport
  • treat transport vehicle and medium
  • obtain accreditation of aquaculture facilities in future.
3.1.5
3.2.5
3.3.5

3. Translocation Protocols for Inland Public Waters

The following sections describe protocols for certain types of translocations of salmonids and native fish species in Victorian inland public waters. The protocols reflect the specific management responses to manage the risks associated with the proposed activity as identified in Table 1. Each protocol specifies the criteria under which common types of translocations will be permitted.

The protocols that deal with translocation for recreational fishing purposes also identify additional criteria, such as access to the stocked fish by anglers, habitat suitability, angler demand and returns to anglers from releases, which need to be considered when making decisions on stocking of public waters. Refer to Appendix 1 for additional information.

Note: words in italics are defined in the Glossary of terms in Appendix 2.

3.1. Protocols for the stocking of salmonids for recreational fishing purposes

The following criteria will apply to the stocking (release of hatchery-reared) of salmonid fish species in inland public waters.

3.1.1. Salmonid species will be restricted to the species stocked traditionally: brown trout, rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon and chinook salmon. Proposals to stock any other non-native species will require an individual risk-assessment.

3.1.2. Waters will be considered for stocking with salmonids under this protocol where all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. Sufficient acceptable habitat conditions exist year-round for the growth and survival of the stocked fish;
  2. Self-sustaining populations are insufficient to support a fishery;
  3. The proposed waters offer reasonable access to anglers. This may include waters that have some form of restricted or conditional access for use by juvenile or disabled anglers;
  4. Where the Department of Environment and Primary Industries is the proponent, there is a reasonable expectation that enough anglers will fish the water to justify the expense involved;
  5. Sufficient demand for stocking in a particular water is evident through the Department's annual regional consultation process;
  6. Where Departmental records indicate that previous stocking of the same species in the waterway concerned has occurred since 1995. Refer to Appendix 4 for a list of waters stocked since 1995; or
  7. Where the stocking is with 500 rainbow trout or less as part of the management of a small water body managed as a 'Family Fishing Lake' and is considered by the Translocation Evaluation Panel to pose an insignificant risk to biodiversity assets within the water body or connecting waterways. ['Family Fishing Lake' – Small Lake, impoundment or retarding basin generally less than 3 ha in area that generally don't support trout year round. They are usually stocked with rainbow trout just prior to second and/or third semester school holidays to provide angling opportunities for junior anglers and people with limited mobility].

3.1.3. Waters (or a section of a waterway if barriers exist to prevent movement of fish) will not be stocked when any one of the following applies:

  1. Where there is reasonable evidence the released fish species may constitute an unacceptable risk to a threatened species or community (e.g. listed under FFG Act, EPBC Act);
  2. Waters identified as unacceptable habitat;
  3. Where natural recruitment sustains the fishery up to the limits of the available habitat and environmental conditions;
  4. Waters east of the Snowy River catchment;
  5. Waters in National Parks, State Parks and Wilderness Parks as defined in the National Parks Act 1975; Natural Catchment Areas as defined in the Heritage Rivers Act 1992; and Reference Areas under the provisions of the Reference Areas Act 1978; and
  6. Those natural waters of the State where salmonids have not previously been stocked.

3.1.4. Subject to clauses 3.1.2 and 3.1.3, stocked waters may include:

  1. Water storages, lakes, swamps and confined wetlands;
  2. Rivers and streams; and
  3. Waters identified as part of the Small Waters stocking program as identified in Schedule 11 (Part B) in the Fisheries Regulations. Protocol criteria 3.1.2 a), 3.1.2 b) and 3.1.3 c) will not apply in
    such waters as the objective is to produce a short-term 'put and take' fishery primarily for junior anglers.

3.1.5. To minimise the risk of spread of diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated fish species, fish to be stocked must:

  1. Have stock health certification as determined by the competent veterinary authority; or
  2. Be obtained from an aquaculture facility with fish health accreditation; and
  3. Be transported in an appropriate medium and containers that are free from diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated species.

Note: The above are interim arrangements until such time as a hatchery quality assurance program is developed and implemented. It is envisaged that such a program will include these requirements in addition to others to reflect best practice.

3.2. Protocols for the translocation of fish native to Victoria for conservation purposes

The following criteria will apply to the translocation (including stocking) of native fish in inland public waters for conservation purposes.

3.2.1. Translocation of native fish for conservation purposes will be confined to public waters except where special management or research needs exist or arise.

3.2.2. Waters will be considered for translocation of native fish where all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. There is a need to maintain or enhance the conservation status of a species with diminished abundance and/or restricted distribution;
  2. The waters are within the known former natural range of the species, except where special management or research needs exist or arise;
  3. There is a reasonable expectation that habitat conditions essential for the growth and survival of the fish exist;
  4. There is a written plan, e.g. an Action Statement (FFG Act), Recovery Plan (EPBC Act) or other document such as a translocation/reintroduction plan, providing the rationale for the translocation that has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders including the Victorian Recreational Fishing peak body (VRFish).

3.2.3. Waters will not be stocked for conservation purposes where there is reasonable evidence the released fish species may constitute an unacceptable risk to another threatened species or community (e.g. listed under the FFG Act and/or EPBC Act)

3.2.4. To ensure genetic integrity and viability of receiving populations, fish to be stocked must be:

  1. Obtained from brood stock known to originate from the same target waters or at least from the same drainage basin, except where special management or research needs exist or arise; and
  2. Obtained from a sufficient number of brood stock, except where special management or research needs exist or arise.

3.2.5. To minimise the risk of spread of disease, parasites, chemicals and associated fish species, fish to be stocked must:

  1. Have stock health certification as determined by the competent veterinary authority; or
  2. Be obtained from an aquaculture facility with fish health accreditation; and
  3. Be transported in appropriate medium and containers that are free from diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated species.

Note: The above are interim arrangements until such time as a hatchery quality assurance program is developed and implemented. It is envisaged that such a program will include these requirements in addition to others to reflect best practice.

3.2.6. Criteria 3.2.2 a) and 3.2.4 a) and b), and

3.2.5 b) do not apply where a native fish population may be at risk from an imminent threat and require the translocation of a wild population of fish to conserve the population (e.g. salvage operations in drought affected waters).

3.3. Protocols for the stocking of fish native to Victoria for recreational fishing purposes

The following criteria will apply to the stocking of native fish species in inland public waters.

3.3.1. Waters will be considered for stocking with native fish where all of the following criteria are satisfied:

  1. There is a reasonable expectation that the habitat conditions essential for the growth and survival of the fish exist year-round and can be expected to do so continuously for several years;
  2. Self-sustaining populations do not exist or are insufficient to support a fishery;
  3. The proposed waters offer reasonable access to anglers. This may include waters that have some form of restricted or conditional access for use by juvenile or disabled anglers;
  4. Where the Department of Environment and Primary Industries is the proponent, there is a reasonable expectation that enough anglers will fish the water to justify the expense involved;
  5. Sufficient demand for stocking in a particular water is evident through the Department's annual regional consultation process; and
  6. The waters are within the known former natural range of the species, or where Departmental records indicate that previous stocking of a waterway concerned has occurred since 1995. Refer to Appendix 4 for a list of waters stocked since 1995.

3.3.2. Waters (or a section of a waterway if barriers exist to prevent movement of fish) will not be stocked where there is reasonable evidence that the released fish species may constitute an unacceptable risk to a threatened species or community

(e.g. listed under FFG Act and/or EPBC Act).

3.3.3. Subject to clauses 3.3.1 and 3.3.2, stocked waters may include:

  1. Water storages and lakes; and
  2. Rivers, streams and wetlands.

3.3.4. To ensure genetic integrity and viability, fish to be stocked must be:

  1. a) Obtained from brood stock known to originate from the same waters or at least from same drainage basin, except where special management or research needs exist or arise; and
  2. b) Obtained from a sufficient number of brood stock, except where special management or research needs exist or arise.

3.3.5. To minimise the risk of spread of diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated fish species, fish to be stocked must:

  1. Have stock health certification as determined by the competent veterinary authority; or
  2. Be obtained from an aquaculture facility with fish health accreditation; and
  3. Be transported in appropriate medium and containers that are free from diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated species.

Note: The above are interim arrangements until such time a hatchery quality assurance program is developed and implemented. It is envisaged that such a program will include these requirements in addition to others to reflect best practice.

4. Determination of Priorities for Recreational Fishing Purposes

Priorities for waters considered for stocking will be regional consultation process, in reference to based on habitat suitability criteria, existing or Fisheries Management Plans (where available), is potential population levels of the species, the the vehicle for assessment of most stocking potential benefit to recreational anglers and the proposals. capacity to monitor the results. The annual

5. Numbers of Fish to be Stocked for Recreational Fishing Purposes

In many cases the number of fish stocked will consultation process. The number of fish stocked simply be determined by: the objectives of the may also be modified as a result of specific stocking program; an appropriate size for stocking; assessments requested through this process or by and availability on a case-by case basis. This will research programs initiated by Fisheries Victoria. usually be determined through the annual regional

Appendix 1: Overview of the Recent FishStocking Activity in Victorian Inland Public Waters

1. The Stocking Program

Currently, the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (Fisheries Victoria) manages stocking of fish with the aim of providing services to recreational fishers as described in the following sections.

1.1. Recreational fish stocking

The recreational component of Victoria's freshwater fisheries relies on a combination of stocked and wild fisheries of both introduced and native species. The most popular species are salmonids (rainbow trout, brown trout, Atlantic salmon and Chinook salmon) and redfin, all of which are introduced. Other popular species include native fish and crustaceans such as Murray cod, golden perch, Australian bass, spiny freshwater crayfish, yabbies and, to a lesser extent, Macquarie perch, eel, silver perch, freshwater catfish and river blackfish.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries has a large trout and salmon stocking program in which between 330,000 and 400,000 fish are released annually for recreational purposes. The total weight of salmonid releases is in the order of 35,000 to 45,000 kg per annum.

A small proportion of these salmonids are released as fingerlings; however, the bulk are released as one-year-old fish ('yearlings'), weighing on average about 100 g each. Fish of this size have better survival rates and provide a higher return to the angler than small fish. A small number of ex-brood fish, weighing up to 5 kg each, are also released each year.

The bulk of trout and salmon are released into impoundments where they are unable to breed naturally.

Relatively little stocking of trout occurs into streams given self-sustaining populations of varying strengths – limited by the environmental conditions and stream carrying capacity -and the limited increases in catch rates resulting from these stocked trout.

The Department also has a substantial recreational native fish stocking program in which between 730,000 and 1 million fish are released annually. Golden perch and Murray cod dominate with smaller numbers of Australian bass and silver perch.

Most native fish are released within their natural range – golden perch, Murray cod and silver perch are released into lakes and rivers north of the Great Dividing Range and Australian bass into Gippsland waters east of Wilsons Promontory. Golden perch, silver perch and Murray cod are also released where suitable waters occur in the Wimmera River basin.

The majority of native fish are stocked as fingerlings, weighing about 1 g each, although an increasing number of larger yearling Murray cod, weighing at least 150 g each, are being trialed in selected waters. The total weight of native fish releases is in the order of 2,000 kg per annum.

Revenue derived from the sale of Recreational Fishing Licences (RFL) also contributes to the stocking of salmonids and native fish into Victorian public waters for recreational fishing purposes. Recommendations on the expenditure of RFL funds are undertaken by the Fisheries Revenue Allocation Committee (FRAC) in four projects categories including: access and facilities; habitat improvement and fish stocking; research; and fisheries related education and training.

Incorporated organisations, including angling clubs and associations, research institutes and the Department, are eligible to apply for fish stocking funds from the RFL. Stockings may be in addition to departmental stockings but are subject to support from the Regional Consultation Process held annually (refer below). This ensures that RFL funded stockings are integrated with departmentally funded stockings and aligned with any fisheries management plans or policies.

Of the native fish species identified in the recreational stocking section above, Murray cod and silver perch are listed as 'threatened' under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. Golden perch are also listed as a member of a 'threatened community'; however they are not listed individually. Despite the potential conservation benefits of stocking Murray cod and silver perch, the primary purpose of departmental stocking of fish is to enhance recreational fishing opportunities for anglers.

1.2 Conservation stocking

Trout cod, which are listed as 'endangered' under the EPBC Act, and 'threatened' under the FFG Act are also stocked in a small number of Victorian waters; however, this is undertaken by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) as part of the National Trout Cod Recovery Plan. The primary purpose of stocking trout cod is to establish self-sustaining populations to ensure the survival of this species in the wild.

2. Stocking arrangements

2.1. Co-management – regional consultation process

The stocking program involves a regional process of engaging with stakeholders and provides a forum for discussion on fish stocking, fish population surveys and other related recreational fisheries management issues. Meetings involve representatives from Fisheries Victoria, Primary Industries Research Victoria (PIRVic) and the Victorian Recreational Fishing Peak Body, VRFish. They may also involve representatives from DSE water authorities, Catchment Management Authorities, the Fisheries Co-Management Council and angler organisations such as Futurefish.

These meetings:

These meetings are the focal point for information exchange and include requests and viewpoints obtained by the Department from angler groups and individual anglers during the period leading up to the meetings. The majority of requests to stock fish are considered at these meetings.

2.2. Permits, Suppliers and Transport

Under the Fisheries Act, written authorisation is required to translocate any fish into any Victorian public and private waters. The penalty for translocation of fish without this authority is up to $2,000.

Departmental fish releases for the recreational and conservation program is undertaken by staff from the Snobs Creek hatchery (near Eildon) with the assistance of local fisheries officers. On occasion, the Department also assists approved client groups with the release of their fish. Fish stocked by the Department are either grown at the departmental hatchery at Snobs Creek or purchased from Victorian and interstate hatcheries.

Stakeholders wishing to purchase fish to stock themselves (subject to approval processes) can do so from a number of licensed hatcheries, many of which specialise in either warm water native fish or cold water salmonids.

Departmental Fish Liberation Officers at the Snobs Creek hatchery collect, transport and deliver fish to lakes and rivers for release. Specialised trucks with large insulated containers transport the fish in oxygenated water to points of release. On occasion, 4WD vehicles tow smaller insulated containers for low volume fish releases to locations that have limited access for large trucks. Local anglers assist with many releases, coordinated by regional Fisheries Officers, by helping to distribute fish within stocked waters.

3. An Historical Perspective on the Victorian Stocking Program

Since their introduction into Australia as a sportfish over one hundred years ago, trout have been released into Victorian lakes and rivers to provide anglers with an alternative species to pursue. Acclimatisation societies played a substantial role in stocking trout. More recently, government agencies have assumed responsibility for the bulk of trout stocking.

Since 1960, the number of trout released has decreased from about 2 million to between 330,000 and 430,000 individuals annually. The number of waters has similarly decreased from over 180 (mean for 1960–64) to 64 (mean for 1986–1990), but up to around 100 in 2002 (explained by the addition of nearly 40 small waters as junior fishing venues).

The reductions in releases reflect a change in management approach rather than any preference for native fish over salmonids. Refer to Appendix 4 for detailed stocking numbers and locations.

Research has indicated that when fish are released at a larger size, they contribute more to anglers' catches. Thus, instead of releasing large numbers of small fish, there was a change to lower numbers of larger fish. Similarly, it was recognised that many waters supported self-sustaining populations of trout so stocking was not an efficient or justifiable use of government resources.

Stocking of native fish in Victoria has a far more recent history. The first state government-funded releases of hatchery-produced Murray cod into Victorian public waters occurred in 1980/81 when 6,000 juveniles were released. Since then, the number of Murray cod released annually has steadily increased with the Department stocking the bulk of Murray cod into public waters.

To meet this demand, government and private hatcheries produce large numbers of fingerlings annually. The majority of fish are released as fingerlings. However, some releases were undertaken with smaller fish, particularly in the early years of captive breeding of the species.

4. The Importance of Recreational Fishing in Victoria

Today fishing is an important recreational activity providing significant social and economic benefits, particularly in regional Victoria. An estimated $400 million is spent on fishing- related goods and services in Victoria alone (National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, 2003). It was also estimated from the survey that in 1999/2000, approximately 550,000 Victorians went fishing at least once as part of their recreational pursuits; with a significant portion of effort occurring on inland waters (43%). This proportion is significantly more than the national average (20%) and represents the highest proportion of fishing effort occurring on inland waters in any state or territory (other than the land-locked ACT). These figures are highly significant as Victoria was experiencing its fourth year of drought at the time of the national survey.

The importance of fishing to Victoria as a recreational activity and to regional economies has been recognised increasingly by the Victorian Government. In 2000, Tourism Victoria released the Fishing Tourism Action Plan 2000–2003, which was designed to 'maximise the opportunities for growth in Victoria's tourism fishing industry'. Developed in conjunction with both the tourism and recreational fishing industries, this Action Plan focused on the diversity of fishing opportunities in the State that are within easy reach of fishers whether they be campers and hikers, or tourists seeking five-star resort accommodation. The Plan recognised Victoria's readily accessible fisheries, stocked with salmonids and native fish, as significant assets, enhanced by their natural settings in streams and lakes.

In 2003, Sport and Recreation Victoria completed a study that examined opportunities for promoting participation in recreational fishing by Victorians. This study recognised the importance of fishing to individual and community health and well-being; as well as its consequent economic benefits.

Appendix 2: Glossary of Terms

Acceptable habitats means:

i. Lakes with a recent history of successfully supporting salmonids; or having some water with temperatures not exceeding 25°C and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels exceeding 5 ppm at any time of the year; and

ii. Streams or sections of streams with a recent history of successfully supporting a trout fishery; or with water temperatures not exceeding 25°C and dissolved oxygen (DO) levels exceeding 5 ppm at any time of the year.

Unacceptable habitats mean waters with maximum water temperatures exceeding 28oC or DO levels below 3 ppm at any time of the year.

Barriers means obstructions, both natural and artificial, that limit the movement of translocated fish beyond the release areas. Natural barriers may be physical, such as waterfalls, or physicochemical, such as water temperatures outside the range acceptable for the species in question. Artificial barriers include weirs and dam walls.

Inland waters has the same definition as in the Fisheries Act. In summary, it includes all waterways, public dams, swamps, billabongs and lakes other than the Gippsland Lakes, Lake Tyers, Mallacoota Lake and Wingan Inlet. It does not include any water or waters on private property.

Small waters means waters identified in Schedule 11 (Part B) in the Fisheries Regulations 1995. In such waters, the objective is to produce a short-term 'put and take' fishery through the release of yearling fish that will primarily benefit junior and disabled anglers and adults with limited mobility.

Stocking – is a subset of translocation and refers only to the release of hatchery-reared fish.

Special management or research needs means needs which, in the view of the Department, are sufficient to merit variation to the protocols for the benefit of conservation of fish species in the State, including the maintenance of existing populations.

Translocation – is the movement of wild-fish or hatchery-reared fish to augment wild fish stocks or to establish new fish stocks.

Appendix 3: Ecologically SustainableDevelopment Goal, Objective and Principles

The National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) was implemented in 1992 (Council of Australian Governments, 1992).

Goal

Development that improves the total quality of life, both now and in the future, in a way that maintains the ecological processes on which life depends.

Core Objectives

Guiding Principles

These guiding principles and core objectives need to be considered as a package. No objective or principle should predominate over the others. A balanced approach is required that takes into account all these objectives and principles to pursue the goal of ESD.

Appendix 4: Fish Translocation Summary, 1995–2003

The following tables are summaries of the number tables are separated according to native and of native and salmonid fish translocated into salmonid fish species and are listed alphabetically. Victorian rivers and lakes for recreational fisheries The tables also refer to major river basins which and conservation purposes from 1995 to 2003. The are identified in the map below.Map Showing the Major river basins of Victoria

Figure 1: Major river basins of Victoria

Table 1: Number of salmonids released into Victorian inland public waters from 1995–2003

Salmonids Number of fish released (1995–2003)
Location Basin Name Brown trout Rainbow trout Atlantic Salmon Chinook salmon
Acheron River Goulburn 750 - - -
Albert Park Lake Yarra - 4,313 - -
Alexandra Lake Hopkins - 600 - -
Anderson Lake Ovens - 2,550 - -
Arboretum Dam Goulburn 200 1,800 - -
Aringa Reservoir Portland 3,000 7,000 - -
Banimboola Lake Upper Murray 2,000 6,500 - -
Bartlett Lake Goulburn - 1,000 - -
Barwon River Barwon 24,000 - - -
Batyo Catyo Lake Wimmera - 8,000 - -
Beaufort Lake Hopkins 3,500 2,000 - -
Berwick Springs Estate Lake Bunyip - 8,000 - -
Blue Rock Dam La Trobe 69,452 3,000 - -
Bolac Lake Hopkins 10,000 24,999 - -
Bostock Reservoir Moorabool 17,500 5,500 - -
Bullarto Reservoir Loddon 6,000 1,000 - -
Bullen Merri Lake Corangamite 33,171 76,876 15,300 13,529
Burrumbeet Lake Hopkins 14,765 31,335 - -
Cairn Curran Reservoir Loddon 151,550 - - -
Campaspe River Campaspe 2,000 - - -
Cartcarrong Lake Hopkins 7,500 500 - -
Cato Lake Wimmera - 600 - -
Caulfield Racecourse Lake Yarra 50 1,575 - -
Charlies Dam Mitchell - 900 - -
Cobden Lake Otway 70 1,700 - -
Colbrook Reservoir Werribee 1,200 200 - -
Colongulac Lake Corangamite 10,830 - - -
Conduluccis Dam Bunyip 200 - - -
Cosgrove Reservoir Loddon 6,500 1,750 - -
Cudgewa Creek Upper Murray 10,000 - - -
Cummins Reserve Lake Goulburn - 400 - -
Dawsons Dam Hopkins 400 - - -
Daylesford Lake Loddon - 1,000 - -
Dean Reservoir Loddon 2,300 300 - -
Deep Lake Loddon 4,500 4,500 - -
Dock Lake Wimmera - 15,000 - -
Donald Caravan Park Lake Wimmera 70 1,500 - -
Dunmunckle Creek Wimmera - 600 - -
Eildon Lake Goulburn 31,000 600,852 - -
Eildon Pondage Weir Goulburn 90,946 17,056 - -
Elingamite Lake Otway 12,364 7,500 - 11,000
Emerald Lake Yarra 320 3,728 - -
Esmond Lake Barwon - 200 - -
Fosters Dam Ovens - 800 - -
Fyans Lake Wimmera 48,200 54,200 - -
Gillear Lake Hopkins 7,000 9,000 - -
Glenelg River Glenelg 3,500 - - -
Glenmaggie Lake Thomson 28,000 10,000 - -
Goldfield Reservoir Loddon 1,500 200 - -
Gong Gong Reservoir Barwon 12,570 12,900 - -
Greenhill Lake Hopkins 13,000 3,500 - -
Gutheridge Lake Thomson - 2,115 - -
Guyatt Lake Thomson 70 4,750 - -
Hamilton Lake Glenelg 20,455 6,000 - -
Hanging Rock Lake Campaspe 1,200 1,600 - -
Harcourt Reservoir Loddon 18,000 15,000 - -
Harrietville Dredge Hole Ovens 70 1,400 - -
Healesville Showgrounds Lake Yarra - 250 - -
Hepburn Lagoon Loddon 51,053 44,947 - -
Heyfield Racecourse Lake Thomson - 1,250 - -
Holland Creek Broken 7,500 - - -
Hopkins River Hopkins 14,000 2,000 - -
Hume Weir Upper Murray 139,829 - - -
Hyland Lake La Trobe 770 9,350 - -
Jack Roper Reserve Lake Yarra 70 5,050 - -
Jacksons Creek Maribynong 2,000 - - -
Jamieson River Goulburn 2,000 - - -
Jil Jil Lake Wimmera - 6,384 - -
Jubilee Lake Corangamite - 1,900 - -
Kennington Reservoir Loddon - 2,700 - -
Kerford Lake Ovens 70 3,800 - -
King Lake Tambo - 800 - -
King River Ovens 15,000 - - -
Konong Wootong Reservoir Glenelg 15,000 8,000 - -
Korumburra Reservoir 3 South Gippsland - 200 - -
Landsborough Reservoir Wimmera - 200 - -
Lang Lang River Bunyip 21,200 - - -
Lauriston Reservoir Campaspe 56,500 - - -
Learmonth Lake Hopkins 20,010 20,000 - -
Leighs Dam Ovens - 400 - -
Lilydale Lake Yarra 4,500 10,702 - -
Lismore Golf Course Dam Corangamite - 300 - -
Lysterfield Reservoir Bunyip 500 500 - -
Macalister River Thomson 42,000 52,170 - -
Malmsbury Reservoir Campaspe 71,000 - - -
Marysville Dam Goulburn - 1,800 - -
Merri River Hopkins 58,400 - - -
Modewarre Lake Barwon 43,500 48,385 - 40,500
Monbulk Retarding Basin Bunyip 70 800 - -
Moorabool Reservoir Moorabool 34,000 - - -
Morwell Lake La Trobe 70 8,050 - -
Mount Beauty Pondage Kiewa 1,700 6,600 - -
Mount Emu Creek Hopkins 18,200 - - -
Moyne River Portland 2,000 - - -
Murdeduke Lake Barwon - 88,000 - 122,000
Narracan Lake La Trobe 20,000 - - -
Natimuk Lake Wimmera 2,000 17,700 - -
Neanger Lake Loddon - 1,200 - -
Newlyn Reservoir Loddon 31,200 7,600 - -
Nhill Lake Wimmera 70 1,600 - -
Nursery Reservoir Campaspe 3,000 1,000 - -
Okeefes Dam Loddon 70 600 - -
Old Lismore Reservoir Corangamite - 150 - -
Ovens River Ovens 5,000 - - -
Pine Lake Wimmera 7,500 - - -
Police Paddock Dams Wimmera 200 2,600 - -
Purrumbete Lake Otway 119,997 158,917 5,000 151,955
Rable Park Lake Wimmera - 700 - -
Rainbow Creek Thomson 3,000 - - -
Rawson Dam Thomson 70 3,600 - -
Redbank Reservoir Avoca - 200 - -
Rocklands Reservoir Glenelg 52,035 51,885 - -
Rotary Park Lake Loddon - 400 - -
Rowville Lakes Bunyip 70 4,000 - -
Roxburgh Park Lakes Yarra - 2,200 - -
Russells Dam Loddon 70 500 - -
Ryans Creek Broken 4,000 - - -
Sambell Lake Ovens - 1,200 - -
Seagull Lake Barwon 52 2,800 - -
St Georges Lake Loddon 70 3,200 - -
Stables Lake Yarra - 200 - -
Sugarloaf Reservoir Avoca 20,000 10,000 - -
Talbot Reservoir Loddon 4,000 2,000 - -
Tarwin River East Branch South Gippsland 9,000 - - -
Tatong Angling Club Dam Broken 200 - - -
Tailors Lakes Maribynong - 800 - -
Tea Tree Lake Hopkins 70 2,800 - -
Teddington Reservoir Bottom Avoca 9,000 1,500 - -
Teddington Reservoir Top Avoca 5,000 2,000 - -
Tom Thumb Lake Loddon - 500 - -
Tooliorook Lake Corangamite 18,000 18,000 - -
Toolondo Reservoir Wimmera 138,000 20,000 - -
Trudys Dam Mitchell - 900 - -
Upper Coliban Reservoir Campaspe 49,050 - - -
Upper Stoney Creek Reservoir Moorabool 4,000 11,000 - -
Victoria Lake Ballarat Corangamite - 1,400 - -
Victoria Lake Chiltern Barwon 70 1,000 - -
Victoria Lake Rutherglen Goulburn - 400 - -
Victoria Lake Shepparton Goulburn 70 1,000 - -
Wallace Lake Millicent 6,000 19,225 - -
Wartook Reservoir Wimmera 43,000 - - -
Watonga Drive Dam Wimmera - 1,800 - -
Weeroona Lake Loddon - 1,200 - -
Wendouree Lake Barwon 7,652 54,648 - -
West Barwon Reservoir Barwon - 9,000 - -
Whittlesea Botanical Lake Yarra - 1,000 - -
Wombat Reservoir Loddon 5,000 9,000 - -
Wotonga Drive Dam Wimmera - 400 - -
Wurdiboluc Reservoir Barwon 7,950 14,000 - -
Yarra River Yarra 8,000 - - -
Yarrambat Lake Yarra - 600 - -
Total number and weight of salmonids released Brown trout Rainbow trout Atlantic Salmon Chinook salmon
Total number 1,873,111 1,736,762 20,300 338,984
Average weight per fish (g) 97 83 20 45
Total weight (kg) 182,543 144,600 416 15,348

Table 2: Number of native fish released into Victorian inland public waters from 1995–2003

Appendix 5: Overview of the Translocation Risk Categories and Proposed Management Response to Minimise the Risks

In general, risks associated with translocation can be classified into three categories.

1. Environmental/ecological risks including:

2. Spread of diseases and parasites; and

3. Chemical release.

The following sections are a brief outline of each of the risk categories and the proposed management response to minimise those risks as part of these protocols. The management responses are reflected above in Section 3 – Translocation Protocols for Inland Public Waters.

1. Environmental/ecological risks

1.1. Decrease in genetic diversity of wild populations

Releasing native fish for recreational purposes may pose a risk to the genetic integrity and diversity of wild fish through breeding with distinct populations of the same species; or through hybridisation with endemic species where there is genetic compatibility.

Risk management response

The risk of genetic shifts in wild native fish populations can be minimised by ensuring that the stocked fish are from the same genetic stock as local populations. This can be achieved by sourcing brood stock known to originate from the same, or at least connected, waters to the original population. In addition, the use of sufficient numbers of broodstock and regular rotation will also reduce the risk of loss of genetic diversity. Decoupling of aquaculture breeding (where the objective is to produce large numbers of genetically similar fish for consumption) from production of fish for stocking will also assist in risk reduction in this category.

As a minimum interim measure to ensure genetic integrity and viability of native wild fish in receiving waters, it is proposed that fish to be translocated, which originate from aquaculture facilities, should be:

a) Obtained from broodstock known to originate from the same waters or at least from same drainage basin; and

b) Obtained from a sufficient number of broodstock.

In future, the development of aquaculture facility accreditation and quality assurance programs will be developed as a means of establishing minimum standards designed to address the environmental risks associated with movement and release of live fish. Such standards will serve to promote best practice farming methods (refer to Section 2a of this Appendix).

1.2. Establishment of feral populations

The establishment of feral populations through translocation of fish can have a range of adverse environmental effects on endemic communities including competition, predation, hybridisation and habitat modification. Examples of feral populations include carp, marron, mosquito fish and oriental weatherloach. It should be noted that, in some instances, establishment of a feral population may be considered beneficial and desirable, or authorised, e.g. stocking for recreational purposes or enhancing populations of native species.

Risk management response

The release of fish within the natural range of the species, and/or stocking where the species already occurs and does not pose a significant threat to endemic species, can reduce the risks of establishment of feral populations. In the context of these protocols, the proposed response to minimise this risk category is to:

1.3. Interaction with indigenous species and populations listed under the FFG Act and/or habitat alteration

Regardless of the ability of translocated fish to establish self-sustaining populations in receiving waters, if these fish are able to survive long enough they may have other environmental impacts including competition, displacement, predation and habitat alteration. This can have resultant impacts at the individual, population, community and ecological process level with the potential of long-lasting or irreversible changes to the community structure.

As most recreationally stocked fish are predatory in nature, endemic species will be at greater risk to the translocated predator, in many cases, because there has been no predator–prey co-evolution between the species. This may be particularly devastating if the local species are not normally preyed on, so have not developed defence mechanisms or appropriate behaviour patterns of response to this threat. In addition, stocking of recreational species may also pose a risk to the recovery and conservation of threatened species.

In open systems, or where containment is considered inadequate, an assessment of the species' potential for environmental impacts is required. The assessment is to be based on a thorough understanding of the ecology of both the translocated species and the target region.

Risk management response

The risks of adverse interaction with native species and/or habitat alteration can be reduced by stocking within the natural range of the species; and stocking where the species already occurs and does not pose a significant threat to endemic species. As the risks are similar, the proposed response to manage the risks associated with the establishment of feral populations (2.2) will also apply in this category.

1.4. Translocation of associated species

There may be a risk of associated species being moved with the target organism during a translocation through the transport medium or on/in the translocated fish. This can also occur through the movement of species located external

(i.e. epifauna and ecto-parasites on gills and scales) and internal (e.g. endo-parasites, microalgal cysts) to the target fish.

Risk management response

Risks can be minimised by appropriate treatment and disposal of the transport medium, using contaminant-free stock and by adopting appropriate monitoring and testing regimes. Appropriate disinfection procedures and appropriately designed transport vessels may reduce the load of associated species or reduce the likelihood of spillage en-route. Adoption of international standards of disinfection procedures outlined by the Office of Infectious Epizootica (OIE) will also reduce the likelihood of chemical release.

2. Diseases and parasites

The principal concern in this risk category is the potential introduction of exotic and endemic pathogens to the receiving environment. In Victoria, diseases of concern to fin fish identified in Schedule 16 of the Fisheries Regulations 1998 are:

b) wild populations; or c) through the illegal movement of introduced species.

Risk management response

a) Aquaculture facilities

The risk of transferring parasites and diseases into the environment from an aquaculture facility can be reduced through a range of measures including:

Control mechanisms to manage disease-related risks can include aquaculture licence conditions, codes of practice, hatchery accreditation or a combination of these arrangements. In implementing such control mechanisms, it is important to recognise that the activity of stocking and aquaculture production already exists. Consequently, changes to stocking and production policies will have direct social and economic impacts on existing hatcheries (particularly private hatcheries). It is important that, where appropriate and proposed changes will have significant impacts, a transition period is established to allow industry adjustment to any required changes. Therefore, in the context of this document, it is proposed that a staged approach be adopted to establish best-practice hatchery and transport accreditation programs. This will include the range of measures outlined above to reduce the risks of disease and parasite introduction associated with the release of hatchery-reared fish.

Effective immediately for aquaculture facilities supplying fish for restock purposes –Based on the histopathological examination of a minimum of 30 fish, a stock health certificate may be issued by a competent veterinary authority to the fish to be translocated when there are no pathogens detected. Alternatively, fish may be obtained from an aquaculture facility with fish health accreditation. In addition, the transport medium (water) and containers must be free from diseases, parasites, chemicals and associated species.

Within one year –DPI will work with industry to establish a fish health translocation protocol for interstate movement of live aquaculture product. DPI will also provide training for fish-farmers on fish disease prevention measures, presumptive diagnosis and emergency fish health preparedness.

Within three years – DPI will work with industry to develop and implement minimum standards of hatchery accreditation for key sectors.

b) Wild stocks

The translocation of fish from wild stocks (and other non-aquaculture facilities e.g. dams) are infrequent events and will generally be managed on a case-by-case basis. In general, a risk assessment will be required prior to translocating fish from wild stocks in order to address risks associated with transfer of diseases and parasites, in addition to selecting appropriate receiving waters.

However, in circumstances where a native fish population may be at risk from an imminent threat and require the translocation of fish to conserve the population (e.g. salvage operations in drought affected waters), time is a critical factor. Due to the imminent threat, there is often little time to conduct a risk assessment for consideration by the Translocation Evaluation Panel.

In such situations, it is proposed that a competent veterinary authority issue a health certificate based on a gross visual inspection (rather than a histopathological examination) of whether the fish proposed to be translocated are free of the presence of diseases and parasites.c) Illegal movement of introduced species

The risks associated with introducing pathogens through the illegal movement of introduced species carries significant penalties under the provisions of the Fisheries Act 1995. An active regional network currently exists to deliver a range of compliance/education activities, including activities warning of the hazards associated with the illegal movement of introduced species.

3. Chemical release

The main issue of concern in this category is the exposure of cultured stock to drugs and other chemicals. The risk from translocation arises when undesirable chemicals may be transported in the transport medium or as residues in the stock itself.

Risk management response

As the risks are similar to those associated with the translocation of associated species the proposed response to manage the risks associated with this activity (2.4) will also apply to this category.

Appendix 6. List of Abbreviations

DNRE  Department of Natural Resources and Environment 
DO  Dissolved Oxygen 
DEPI Department of Environment and Primary Industries
ESD  Ecologically Sustainable Development 
FFG  Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 
FRAC  Fisheries Revenue Alllocation Committee 
PIRVic  Primary Industries Research Victoria 
RFL  Recreational Fishing Licences 
TEP  Translocation Evaluation Panel 
VRFish  Victorian Recreational Fishing Body 

Appendix 7. References

Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2003) Guidelines for the translocation of live aquatic organisms in Victoria. Completed by the Victorian Aquatic Organisms Translocation Guidelines Steering Committee. Melbourne.

Tourism Victoria (2000) Fishing Tourism Action Plan 2000 – 2003. Melbourne.

Commonwealth of Australia (2003) National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey. Canberra.