The first large scale stocking of Hazelwood barramundi began today with the release of 720 large fish into the pondage as part of the Andrews Labor Government’s plan to establish the southern-most population of the species for recreational anglers to enjoy.

Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing officially released the barramundi into the pondage in what is soon to become a mecca for anglers Australia wide.

Bred at Mainstream Aquaculture hatchery at Werribee the large Barramundi measure around 30cm in size and are the first instalment of a plan to stock 5,000 barramundi over the next fortnight.

The stocking began last September when eighteen barramundi measuring about 33 cm were released into the Pondage, following successful tank-based acclimatisation trials which showed the fish survive in pondage water.

A further 1000 fingerlings at 5cm, 500 fish at 10cm and 100 larger barramundi at 30cm were released in April.

Earlier this week, Fisheries Victoria researchers used electro-fishing methods and caught 14 barramundi that included three stocked size classes. The larger fish were over 5 kilograms in weight and for the first time the smaller class of stocked fish were detected in the survey.

Barramundi are usually only found in northern Australia, however Fisheries Victoria believe the unusually warm water in Hazelwood pondage combined with its abundant population of exotic prey-fish provides the species with an ideal growing conditions.

Fisheries Victoria Research staff will continue to monitor the performance of the stocked barramundi over the next six months so more can be learned about their growth, movements, behaviour and preferred habitats.

Recreational fishing in the Pondage remains closed until at least 20 October, 2016 to fully enable further fish surveys to be conducted.

Fisheries Victoria and a working group of anglers, the land owner and the Latrobe City Council are working to ensure the fishery is well managed prior to re-opening, including facility upgrades, fisheries enforcement, education, and usage rules so everyone can enjoy the waterway in a responsible manner.

Quotes attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria, Harriet Shing:

“Look out Darwin; we have Barra in the heart of Gippsland.  The fish are flourishing at a rapid rate, so Hazelwood Pondage will soon be opened to anglers far and wide to enjoy.”

“We will generate even more angler interest as we continue creating a fishery that will rival some the best barramundi fisheries in the country.”

“This is just one of the Andrews Labor Government’s commitments under our Target One Million plan for recreational fishing, which aims to get more people fishing, more often and grow participation to one million anglers by 2020.”