Monday, March 4, 2024

Endangered Mary River cod releases help freshwater apex predator fight back after floods: Neumann

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The Hon. Shayne Neumann, Federal Member for Blair, Media Release, 29 January 2024

More than 21,000 Mary River cod have been released into South East Queensland waterways to help the species recover from severe floods in 2022.

The releases have been coordinated by Somerset Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association and the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation, in a project jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements.

The project has received $85,000 to purchase and release both fingerlings and juvenile size Mary River cod, complementing the fish stocking association’s overall recovery plan to reinstate native cod back into greater Brisbane catchments.

Federal Member for Blair, Shayne Neumann MP helped release 50 endangered Mary River cod fingerlings into the Brisbane River at Spillway Common near Wivenhoe Dam.

“The 2022 floods caused widespread destruction to Queensland’s waterways including the Mary, Burnett, Brisbane and Bremer rivers, which are home to some of our most iconic and threatened aquatic species,” Mr Neumann said.

“A number of South East Queensland waterways, including the Mary River catchment, were impacted by multiple severe floods within the space of weeks, taking a serious toll on the riverbanks and biodiversity.

“In environmental terms, the floods damaged waterways that are home to some of our most vulnerable animal species including the Mary River cod, lungfish, white-throated snapping turtle, and the Mary River turtle.

“We are very pleased to support this project through the Environmental Recovery Program and I thank the Queensland Government and the Somerset Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association for their outstanding efforts in this regard.”

The Somerset and Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association has been stocking the Brisbane River with the Mary River cod fingerlings for some years now, with the goal to reinstate this freshwater apex predator back into the Brisbane River catchment.

The Association’s President, Garry Fitzgerald said the Somerset and Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association is on a mission to restore greater Brisbane area waterways to their rich biodiversity pre the 2022 floods.

“Our overall goal is to create a self-sustaining Mary River cod population in our waterways, and we stock these fingerlings into several south-east Queensland rivers and creeks, as part of our strategy to re-establish a self-sustaining population throughout the region,” Mr Fitzgerald said.

“We thank the Australian and Queensland Governments for their support in helping us in these efforts.

“This funding is critical to our efforts as our organisation, operating since 1988, is run on a purely voluntary basis.

“We also thank the help and support from the many landowners throughout Brisbane-area catchments.”

The release is the last under a project which saw more than 21,000 Mary River cod fingerlings released into waterways across the region from November 2023 to January 2024 to help one of Australia’s most endangered freshwater fish recover from severe floods across the region in 2022.

Part of the $38.9 million Environmental Recovery Program jointly funded by the Australian and Queensland Governments through the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements, the releases have been coordinated by the Somerset Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association and the Queensland Department of Environment, Science and Innovation.

The support complements the fish stocking association’s overall recovery plan to reinstate native cod back into greater Brisbane catchments, ensuring this endangered species survives into the future.

Explainer/fast fact and/or further information:

The Somerset Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association project has released Mary River cod fingerlings and juveniles at 30 sites across the greater Brisbane area, including the Stanley and Bremer Rivers and Warrill Creek, to replace fish lost during the 2022 floods.

The project complements the Somerset Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association’s overall recovery plan to reinstate native cod back into the catchments of the greater Brisbane area.

The Brisbane River cod has been presumed extinct since around the 1950s, and this project is aimed to restore an iconic freshwater apex predator back into the Brisbane River catchment using the Mary River cod – one of its closest living relatives.

The Mary River cod is listed as endangered under Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and is one of Australia’s most endangered freshwater fish.

It grows up to one metre in length and can help to control pest fish populations such as tilapia, carp and mosquitofish that damage the natural environment and native fish communities.

More information on the Mary River cod is available on the Queensland Department of Environment and Science’s website.

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