OzFish Launches First Ever Recreational Angler Tagging Program Across Murray-Darling Basin

Written by: The Griffith Phoenix

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For the first time, a program will entrust freshwater anglers and river rangers with the important work of fish tagging.

OzFish Unlimited, together with Charles Sturt University researchers and First Nations groups, will spearhead the program with funding support from the Australian Government’s OneBasin CRC program and the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.

OzFish have called on recreational fishers to express their interest online now.

Volunteers will be required to complete specialist training on fish handling and will be taught how to implant the Passive Integrated Transponder (PIT) Tags with a special tool.

The first workshop will be held at Deniliquin on November 25 with further events scheduled to take place at Swan Hill and Mildura early in 2024.

Dr John Conallin, who is supporting the project said tagging programs could provide a wealth of data on fish movement patterns, habitat preferences, population dynamics, mortality rates and more.

“The data gathered will give us a long-term picture of where native fish are moving and perhaps not moving in the Murray Darling Basin,” Dr Conallin said.

“It is critical to help uncover where our energy and focus needs to be to help native fish.”

Braeden Lampard, OzFish’s Senior Program Manager Murray Darling Basin believes it is about time inland recreational fishers were given this opportunity.

“Australia runs some of the largest and longest running saltwater tagging programs in the world,” Mr Lampard said.

“They’ve been widely used for years with the support of recreational fishers, however, for our freshwater anglers along the Murray Darling Basin, this is uncharted territory.”

In contrast to conventional tagging programs in saltwater environments, these tags are designed to emit signals or “ping” when the fish passes through a lock or fishway.

“Participating anglers will have the opportunity to access the data associated with the fish they tag,” Mr Lampard said.

The long-term goal is to use recreational fishers and river rangers in long-term fish tagging programs across the Murray-Darling Basin, integrated into scientific programs as trusted partners.

Anglers should head to www.ozfish.org.au/nsw-native-fish-tagging-eoi-2023 and register.

The project has been funded by the Australian government OneBasin CRC program and the Next Generation Water Engineering and River Management Hub, the NSW Recreational Fishing Trusts and BCF - Boating, Camping, Fishing with support from Charles Sturt University, recreational fishers and First Nation groups.

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