Local anglers could soon be reeling in more and larger fish thanks to a project to establish a productive fishery in a Rockhampton dam.
Member for Rockhampton Barry O’Rourke said artificial rock pile reefs had been installed in the Mount Morgan Dam on the Dee River to provide a suitable habitat into which golden perch fingerlings could be released.
“Rock pile reefs are designed to provide newly stocked fingerlings with a place to recover from transport stress and acclimatise to their new environment while providing shelter from predators,” Mr Furner said.
“Marmor Quarry has donated 80 tonne of basalt rock to build four reefs which contain a mix of large and smaller rocks over two to three layers to create complex hiding places for fingerlings.
“Between now and early 2022, it is anticipated that more than 200 fish attracting structures and native aquatic plants will be installed in Mount Morgan Dam to enhance fish habitat there.”
Minister for Agricultural Industry Development and Fisheries Mark Furner said the project was a joint initiative between the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) and Rockhampton Regional Council as part of a broader plan to improve fishing in Mt Morgan Dam.
“Recreational angling in impoundments is increasing in popularity and generates significant social and economic benefits to regional communities,” Mr Furner said.
“Currently the dam lacks suitable habitat for key recreational fishing species such as saratoga, golden perch and sleepy cod so creating that environment is crucial to establishing a viable fishery for shore-based anglers.
“Strategically improving the structural habitat complexity within the dam will lead to improved fishing, improved tourism and a greater spend from visitors to the Rockhampton region.”
Rockhampton Region Mayor Margaret Strelow said although the dam was initially constructed to provide town water to Mount Morgan, it also provided a valuable recreational area for the local community.
“The Mount Morgan No.7 Dam is one of the hidden gems in our region and this initiative to improve the fish habitat is a fantastic way to also improve the recreational use of the Dam and drive more visitors to Mount Morgan,” Mayor Strelow said.
“Once the fish habitats are complete, a saratoga translocation program will help create a thriving ecosystem which will make Mount Morgan a fishing destination in its own right.
“Thanks to the State’s Skilling Queenslanders for Work program, this project is also helping a number of young and unemployed people gain new skills in basic construction and vegetation management.”
Mr Furner said the Mount Morgan project was the latest part of DAF’s Habitat Enhancement Research Program which commenced in February 2018.
“The program will ultimately provide a blueprint of the type and location of fish attraction structures to be installed in dams,” Mr Furner said.
“Fish attracting structures have been already been installed in Toowoomba’s Cressbrook Dam and Mackay’s Kinchant Dam and the early signs are that they are providing terrific habitats for fish.
“Improving fishing in Queensland’s stocked impoundments is part of the Queensland Government’s plan to protect fish for the future.”