The barramundi is Australia’s most recognisable estuarine sportsfish, with many recreational fishers travelling to northern Western Australia to try to catch one.
Local recreational fishing and indigenous communities have long pressed for the restocking of barramundi into their natural range within Lake Kununurra, and eight years ago their dream became a reality when the first fingerlings were released.
With the one millionth barramundi stocked into Lake Kununurra today, the East Kimberley fishing mecca is attracting more and more recreational fishers, strengthening local tourism.
North Regional TAFE in Broome has managed the broodstock collection, breeding and restocking program, in collaboration with the community-based Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group and Miriuwung Gajerrong Rangers.
Grown at Broome’s North Regional TAFE, the fingerlings will reach the minimum legal length of 55 cm in less than three years. The legal maximum is 80 cm and the bag limit is two.
The McGowan Government’s $6 million Recreational Fishing COVID-19 Stimulus Package announced last year has supported enhancement projects such as this one around Western Australia and a State-wide recreational fishing tourism campaign.
As stated by Fisheries Minister Don Punch:
“Today marks the release of more than one million barramundi fingerlings into Lake Kununurra since 2012, with the lake becoming a mecca for fishing tourism in WA’s East Kimberley.
“The lure of a trophy-sized barramundi or two and a big, beautiful lake have quickly built a great reputation and attracted recreational fishers to this world-class still-water fishery.
“Kununurra’s energetic local barramundi stocking group and North Regional TAFE, encouraged and supported by Recfishwest, have done some excellent work building and shaping the lake’s fishing future in reaching the one million mark.
“Recreational fishing helps boost regional economies and create local tourism jobs and we’re committed to more releases across the next three years, with the barra stocking tally likely to pass two million by then.”
As stated by Kimberley MLA Divina D’Anna:
“The State Government’s Lake Kununurra barramundi stocking program has played an important role in transforming the East Kimberley into a world-class destination for recfishers from WA and indeed across Australia.
“With 750,000 Western Australians going fishing every year, we want to see them heading up north to stay and spend in the Kimberley on local job-creating fishing trips.
“I am delighted the McGowan Government has committed to fund a further three years of the program through the WA Recovery Plan and I look forward to hearing even more stories of great barra catches from locals and tourists alike.”