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Freshwater at Sunfish Conference
  |  First Published: December 2009



In November 2009, Sunfish Queensland held a special conference: Setting the Direction of Recreational Fishing in Queensland.

FFSAQ was one of eleven participants invited to present addresses at the forum. Seven of the presentations were from community organisations and the other four from the academic fraternity. These talks were delivered on the Saturday and set the direction for a round of concurrent workshops on Sunday morning. Martin Bowerman (from Creek to Coast on Channel 7) was the keynote speaker at the official dinner on Saturday night.

Les Kowitz delivered the FFSAQ presentation titled called: Freshwater Fishing – The Emerging Catch. He spoke about the historic background of freshwater fishing, which two decades ago was virtually an unknown and unrecognised recreational activity.

Today, with the advent of the Recreational Fishing Enhancement Program (RFEP) and the implementation of the Stocked Impoundment Permit scheme (SIP), a fishery of enormous significance and with substantial capacity for expansion has been created.

Les also explained the role of FFSAQ and how it interacts with and influences freshwater fisheries management. As with most things in life, there are benefits and positives along with the concerns and hindrances. The RFEP and the SIP have certainly been positives. With the sustainability aspect of the stocked fishery, these facilities have established considerable social and economic benefits to local communities as well as tourist anglers.

The “Living the Queensland Lifestyle Policy”, an initiative of Bligh Government’s 2009 election commitment provided a boost of $1.65M over three years to recreational fishing.

Some of the concerns are the lack of research and monitoring, the difficulty in attracting new volunteers to community groups, the policy trends of water impoundment controlling authorities, low water levels and the proliferation of pest fish. So where to from here?

Many viable fisheries have now been created, but the momentum must be maintained and where appropriate expanded in a manner that is environmentally acceptable. We need better recognition from government, increased support from the community and improved promotion.

The opportunities are there and they must be taken advantage of. The freshwater fishery has spawned as an emerging catch, but needs assistance to bring it to maturity.

ACTIVITIES OF PINE RIVERS

The Pine Rivers Fish Management Association (PRFMA) is a very proactive and progressive organisation that engages in activities that are outside the normal role of most stocking groups. These types of activities raises the profile of the group, which in turn fosters a more meaningful relationship within the local community.

The following is a PRFMA report of their work in 2009:

It has again been a busy period for us with fish salvages dominating what would normally be a quiet time of the year for the association.

One particular high point for the year was when we successfully received funding from the Federal Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) for Project Kurwongbah: The Creation of a New Recreational Fishery.

Project Kurwongbah

Stage one is now complete and all reports have been finalised. Monitoring programs and yearly fingerling stockings are still continuing.

The creation of this brand new recreational fishery in one of the fastest growing regions of Australia was done in what we are told is a record time frame. The fishery will be managed to produce a harvest style, stock and take bass and golden perch impoundment suitable for inexperienced anglers. It will also include a premium saratoga catch and release sports fishery to help draw visitors to the area.

Lungfish Salvages

PRFMA’s has been completing fish recoveries below North Pine Dam for two decades. During overflow events both stocked fish and the iconic lungfish escape with the flows.

A relatively small number of fish perish from the fall and we rescue the remaining fish left stranded by receding water and return them to the main dam basin.

In 2009 we worked with Seqwater and DPI&F at seven salvage events and have moved around 350 lungfish that have been stranded or at risk of dying.

Native Fish Breeding for Mosquito Control

Our volunteers are in full swing at the Moreton Bay Regional Council’s fish breeding centre producing native fish for the biological reduction of fresh water mosquitoes. These fish add another tool to council’s control measures for mosquitoes and the disease carried by them.

This will be our first full season of production with the centre only reaching production stage towards the end of the last breeding season. Strict environmental guidelines are adhered to, so production is carried out on a catchment by catchment basis with this year’s effort focusing on the Pine Rivers sub-form.

Council distributed the remaining fish stocks from last year in December 2009 to landholders with impounded water on their property. Our volunteers took the opportunity to educate landholders about noxious pest weeds and fish.

Facts

Project Kurwongbah Stats

Some of the figures from the Pine River’s Fish Management Association’s new recreational fishery project are below:

Recorded volunteer hours for the project:2300 hours
Fish release days15 Days
Total Australian Native Fish released167,000 Fish
Junior Angler Days to support Project Kurwongbah10 events with more than 500 kids in total
Media Stories8
Funds by DAFF$51,240 of a total value of $167,000

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