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Cod survive trip

Saturday, 9th February, 2019

A big cod in his tank at his new home in Narrandera. PICTURE: NSW DPI Fisheries A big cod in his tank at his new home in Narrandera. PICTURE: NSW DPI Fisheries

By Craig Brealey

All 20 of the big Murray cod pulled from the Darling River near Menindee on Thursday have survived a truck trip across the state and are doing fine.

“It went really well,” the manager of the Narrandera Fisheries Centre, Martin Asmus, said yesterday.

“Some were visibly stressed but they’re in reasonable condition and we’ll hold them here as long as we need.”

Menindee locals were afraid that the fish that had congregated in a pool downstream of Weir 32 and were struggling to breathe would not survive the 756 kilometre journey.

But Mr Asmus said the Fisheries Centre had a special fish transporter and were well practiced in collecting native species.

The cod were put in clear, individual tanks holding 100 per cent saturated oxygen and given a light anaesthetic for the six-hour trip, he said.

When they arrived they got a salt bath to remove external parasites and their condition was being monitored.

The Fisheries Centre, near Wagga Wagga, conducts research into the biology and ecology of inland water systems and is also a hatchery for native cod and perch.

The Murray cod netted in the weir pool below Menindee will be put in with other breeding stock collected from the southern waterways to preserve their genetics, Mr Asmus said.

“They all average about a metre (long). They will be perfect for us.

“We’ll breed from them for the next five years and restock the river when it improves.

“You have got to put the fish back from the water where you got them so all the genetics will be saved.”

Golden and silver perch and bony bream have also died in the Darling but Mr Asmus said the cod were the priority at the moment.

Yesterday morning the weir pool was inspected by the local fisheries staff who reported that there were no large cod congregating again, said Mr Asmus.

He said the cod rescue team on Thursday had done a good job.

“They were testing conditions; it’s quite a deep pool and they’re difficult to get at any time.

“They had a fair bit of kick.”

The Murray cod weighed 15 to 20kg, said the NSW Department of Primary Industries-Fisheries, and between them they might produce more than 100,000 fingerlings a year. 

DPI Fisheries said it was assessing whether to conduct more rescues at Weir 32 because flows through the fishway were due to cease early next week to preserve water for Menindee and Broken Hill.

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