From today it will once again be open season on the threatened Murray Cod in NSW.
It is protected as a threatened species under national environmental legislation and is Australia’s largest freshwater growing to a maximum of 1.8m and a hefty 113.5 kg.
Murray Cod occurs naturally in the waterways of the Murray–Darling Basin in a wide range of warm water habitats ranging from clear, rocky streams to slow flowing turbid rivers and billabongs.
The bulk of its habitat range is in NSW and its population has declined substantially.
Experts attribute the low number of mature fish to habitat degradation and angling pressure. Yet the NSW Government only protects this species, a prized angling fish, for three short winter months a year finishing on 30 November.
In addition to recreational fishing, illegal fishing of Murray Cod is reported to be substantial.
The NSW Greens would like to see the scientific evidence that justifies continued fishing for the Murray Cod. We need to be convinced that it is more than unsubstantiated reports from anglers that numbers are on the increase.
Some speculate that numbers are recovering thanks to a re-stocking program. However, introduced fish can have a high mortality rate and artifical stocking can introduce disease to the natural population and cause genetic problems if the introduced fish come from a limited gene pool.
We are calling on the NSW Minister for Primary Industries to direct the NSW Fisheries Scientific Committee to review the Murray Cod’s conservation status. We believe the species warrants protection as a threatened species under NSW law.