Broodstock, or brood fish, are the parent fish from which fry and fingerlings are produced. The success of stocking programs, fish farms and aquaculture industries depend upon a reliable supply of healthy fry/fingerlings that have a sound genetic base. Fish reared in hatcheries may be used for grow-out on fish farms, farm dam stocking, stock enhancement, conservation stocking or the aquarium trade. Hatchery operators require access to new brood fish periodically to undertake their breeding programs. Brood fish are usually sourced externally (dams, lakes and rivers) and held in facilities (ponds, cages, tanks) at the hatchery. Replacement brood fish are required due to declining reproductive performance in captivity, brood fish mortality or to maintain genetic diversity. NSW DPI regulates the collection of brood fish, and hatchery operators must obtain a permit and authorisation before collecting commences.
Permits are issued under Section 37 of the Fisheries Management Act 1994 to regulate brood fish collection.
Several factors are taken into consideration before NSW DPI grant a brood fish collection permit. These include:
To ensure the activity is acceptable, aquaculture and conservation managers and local Fisheries Officers assess the permit application. If there are threatened species, populations or ecological communities present in the collection area, an "7 Part Threatened Species Test" report may be required.
The physical injury and physiological stress resulting from capture, handling, transporting, and holding brood fish can have a detrimental effect on survival and spawning success. Poor water quality, rough handling, and capture may cause females of some species to undergo rapid physiological changes resulting in breakdown (resorption) of the eggs in the ovary.
The brood fish collection permit will outline the collection method to be used. These include:
Since publication of the Hatchery Quality Assurance Program in 2004 there have been advances in the field of genetics but also a considerable volume of genetic work done that relates to Australian native fish in general, in particular the species considered in HQAP.
A review of the genetic work undertaken since 2004, indicates that there is strong evidence to support no requirement for genetic separation of Golden Perch in NSW.
The HQAS now has no specific genetic zones for Golden Perch in NSW.
Angling or capture of the following 3 species is prohibited:
Techniques for the large-scale hatchery production of the Australian native fishes Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii), Golden Perch (Macquaria ambigua) and Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) were developed at the Narrandera Fisheries Centre in the early 1980’s, and commercial hatcheries began to produce and sell fingerlings in 1982/83.
Over the last 25 years, the regular stocking of native fish into impoundments and rivers has established large, popular recreational fisheries and contributed significantly to the conservation of these species.
In recent years, there have been concerns about some aspects of native fish hatcheries, in particular genetics, diseases and trash fish. Research has found discrete populations of Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Silver Perch in other drainages and within the Murray-Darling River System; mixing of populations through inappropriate stockings may reduce their reproductive fitness. Pathogens and diseases that are transferred on hatchery fish may reduce survival and introduce new diseases to regions and farms.
To address these concerns, NSW Department of Primary Industries has developed The NSW Hatchery Quality Assurance Scheme (HQAS) which accredits fish hatcheries for the production of Murray Cod, Golden Perch, Silver Perch and Australian Bass fingerlings for enhancement stocking programs for recreational fishing. The scheme was developed by NSW DPI Aquaculture and Recreational Fishing Staff with significant industry consultation and input.
A major objective of stocking programs is to maintain genetic integrity and genetic diversity in wild populations, ensuring “fitness” and evolutionary potential. The HQAS is designed to meet these genetic goals, and to ensure good health of stocked fish and the absence of non-target species.
For more information and detail about the HQAS please see the HQAS Manual.
The HQAS divides the state into various regions by drainage; these regions are based on current knowledge of the population genetics of each species. The regions set out the areas from which brood fish must be collected; in order for a hatchery to stock a particular region, brood fish must be collected from that region. The key genetic regions for Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Australian Bass in NSW are shown on the following maps.
Northern (MC1) (Map zone 4): Castlereagh, Namoi, Gwydir, Macquarie and Macintyre Rivers. Barwon River above Brewarrina.
Southern (MC2) (Map zone 5): Lachlan, Murray and Murrumbidgee Rivers. Bogan, Barwon and lower Darling rivers below Brewarrina.
North Coast (AB1): All rivers north of the Macleay River
Central Coast (AB2): All rivers between the Macleay and the Hawkesbury River (both rivers included)
South Coast (AB3): All rivers south of the Hawkesbury River