Proposal tests waters on Valley Lake fishing

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Proposal tests waters on Valley Lake fishing

Recreational fishers may soon be able haul in a different species of fish following a proposal from RecFish SA to Mount Gambier City Council.

City Council and RecFish SA have been discussing a fish restocking program at the Valley Lake which would see a number of fish species introduced.

Murray Cod, Yellow Belly Perch and Brown/Rainbow Trout are among the fish to be introduced.

The matter has been listed for discussion at council’s December monthly meeting being held today (Tuesday).

Council’s Economy, Strategy and Engagement manager Biddie Shearing’s report presents a proposal from RecFish SA and the concept of permitted recreational fishing.

Ms Shearing said a high-level briefing was provided by administration in August at an Elected Member workshop.

“Administration has been working with RecFish SA to refine the proposal,” she said.

“In working with RecFish SA, administration is proposing a phased approach. This also allows for sensitivities around stocking of species types and provides adequate ability for community consultation.”

Phase 1 would allow for restocking of the cod and perch and apply for a Ministerial permit to release aquatic resources.

“The sourcing the fish species suitable will be determined in consultation with the various hatcheries and their stock at hand, noting they may need 6-12 months leeway if they do not have enough fish in stock,” Ms Shearing said.

Currently, permitted fishing is limited to Invasive European Carp, though the lake also contains native aquatic fauna including common galaxiid, common yabby, Eastern Long-necked Turtle and Short-necked Turtle.

Investigations into a recreational fishing licence/permit model would continue as part of phase 2 along with the introduction of trout.

“The initial step is to apply for a Ministerial permit to release aquatic resources,” Ms Shearing said.

“SA Water have advised they are required to obtain a permit from PIRSA. SA Water advise that up to 4 months should be allowed for getting a permit.

“Therefore, this report is timely in terms of consideration and the implementation over the coming 12 months.”

Ms Shearing said as part of the permit process PIRSA will conduct an environmental risk assessment.

“This assessment will consider the potential impact of introducing large predatory fish to the lake, particularly on the native aquatic fauna,” she said.

“This will be balanced out with considerations in controlling European carp and reducing algal levels.”

Ms Shearing said the initial step would cost $1800 which includes Recfish SA and SA Water stocking plans, water quality and carrying capacity calculations.

In her report, Ms Shearing has recommended council endorse the application with PIRSA.

“The proposed initial investment will be able to be sourced from within existing sustainability budget allocation,” she said.

Ms Shearing said the introduction of native fish could benefit lake ecology and biodiversity, improving water quality and increasing aquatic insect larvae.

Other benefits highlighted in the report included reduction in the number of fingerling Carp, decrease the mud stir seen in the Freemans Landing area of the lake and levels of algae in the lake.

“Since September 2022 a consultant has been conducting water-quality monitoring of the lake on behalf of council,” Ms Shearing said.

“The consultant has suggested that introducing larger fish species into the lake will assist with maintaining water quality at the site and management of the (non-native) European Carp.

“Introducing larger predatory fish will alter the food web, leading to an increase in zooplankton, which consume algae.

“It is worth noting the monitoring has demonstrated the water quality of the lake is fine for passive recreational activities.”

In addition, Ms Shearing said the proposal aligned with a number of council’s plans, including the Crater Lakes Activation Plan along with its Reconciliation Action Plan, Regional Health Plan, Disability Access and Inclusion Plan, and she noted the South Australian Tourism Commission was developing a Recreational Fishing Strategy, due for release early in 2024.

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