by Alan Everett
Victorian Government scientists have successfully bred large numbers of Macquarie perch in captivity for the first time.
Minister for Agriculture Peter Walsh said the breakthrough was made by aquaculture scientists from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) at Snobs Creek.
Mr Walsh said the scientists used improved diet management and advanced hormone therapy to induce egg maturation and spawning.
'Four fish spawned over summer resulted in the hatching of 11,700 larvae,' Mr Walsh said.
'During the 1980s and 1990s, Fisheries Victoria produced Macquarie perch for stocking programs using broodstock caught from the wild during the spawning season.
'But despite numerous attempts over the last half century, we have been unable to breed Macquarie perch using fish held in captivity at Snobs Creek until now.'
Mr Walsh said the Macquarie perch was a valued recreational fish in Victoria that could only be taken from a few waters in accordance with strict catch limits and an annual three-month closed season.
'This breeding breakthrough will greatly assist the recovery of Macquarie perch in its natural range, given declines in its distribution and abundance,' Mr Walsh said.
In 2009, Fisheries Victoria instigated a new breeding program for Macquarie perch that saw 3,550 fingerlings released into Expedition Pass Reservoir and Hollands Creek, near Tatong, last year.
'This year 8,300 Macquarie perch were released into three waters over summer, including 5,600 fingerlings which were bred in captivity,' Mr Walsh said.
'Expedition Pass Reservoir received 3,000 fish, Lake William Hovell 2,800 and the Ovens River 2,800 between Myrtleford and Wangaratta.'