Future looking bright for Tasmanian estuary perch
Estuary perch (Percalates colonorum) is a fish endemic to south-eastern Australia where it is widely targeted by light tackle sporting anglers. Estuary perch were believed to be distributed along the north and east coasts of Tasmania in the early 1900’s with confirmed reports in Anson’s and Arthur rivers and unconfirmed reports in Pipers River, Scamander River and Georges River. Unfortunately their distribution is now limited and there appears to be one remaining strong hold left in the Arthur River. This has led to an uncertainty regarding its' sustainability in Tasmania and the IFS have brought in regulations that require all estuary perch to be released if caught. The cause of their disappearance is undocumented, however, it’s believed to be a combination of factors such as commercial and recreational gillnetting in the past and the development of man-made weirs and culverts which interfere with spawning migrations.
Because of estuary perch’s restricted distribution and interest in using it to develop further inland recreational fishing opportunities there has arisen a need for more information to be gathered about this species in Tasmania. This year, University of Tasmania honours student Bryan Van Wyk, alongside IMAS lecturer Dr. James Haddy aims to develop background knowledge of the Arthur River stock. Part of the study involves a tagging program which is used to build an understanding of the population size and its’ movements. It is important to note that if a tagged estuary perch is caught it must still be released as would any untagged specimen. Due to the nature of this project, a dead tagged perch can’t contribute any more information to the study. This is what to do if you catch a tagged estuary perch:
- Record the fork length.
- Record the two tag numbers of the fish.
- Take note of the location (how far upstream from the mouth, what sort of habitat etc.).
- Notify Bryan Van Wyk (0437 103 176) or Inland Fisheries Service.