Ipswich City Council waterway health officer Jack McCann releases a batch of bass into the Bremer River, supporting ongoing restocking efforts. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich City Council waterway health officer Jack McCann releases a batch of bass into the Bremer River, supporting ongoing restocking efforts. Picture: David Lems

Good news after tragic river fish kill

NO-ONE likes to see a fish kill like the recent sad sight near the Churchbank Weir.

Hundreds of fish were found dead in the tranquil waterway south of Ipswich along the east branch of Warrill Creek.

However, the good news is that ongoing restocking efforts are ensuring local rivers and creeks continue to enhance the environment and provide future fishing opportunities.

Partnerships between local restocking groups, Ipswich City Council and Fisheries are topping up regional water habitats with lively fingerlings that will grow into larger fish.

About 400 bass fingerlings were this morning released in two key locations - in the Bremer River near Warrill Creek and at the Churchbank Weir at Peak Crossing.

Ipswich City Council waterway health officer Jack McCann helped release a batch of tiny fish, supported by Somerset and Wivenhoe Fish Stocking Association president Garry Fitzgerald and observed by a Fisheries officer.

Fitzgerald said it was important to continue providing a valuable resource for the community and environment.

"After the recent fish kill at the Churchbank Weir, we reached out to our suppliers and we thought to turn a bit of bad story into a good news story . . . that we'd see if there were any more bass available,'' Fitzgerald said.

"It's just a community engagement thing, an awareness thing and to get some native fish back into the system.''

SAD SIGHT: Fish kill at weir

Ipswich City Council waterway health officer Jack McCann this morning releases a batch of bass fingerlings into the Bremer River. Picture: David Lems
Ipswich City Council waterway health officer Jack McCann this morning releases a batch of bass fingerlings into the Bremer River. Picture: David Lems

The fingerlings released were between 35 and 40mm, capable of growing steadily to their 30cm legal length with a reliable food web.

"If there's plenty of food in the system and there is in this system . . . so there's no reason why they shouldn't get pretty good growth rates here,'' the restocking enthusiast said.

The fingerlings have an added chance to survive being released into snaggy locations for protection.

"They (little fish) don't really like living in an open bowl,'' Fitzgerald said.

"Bass notoriously love the deep dark shadows, the undercut banks and some structure in the water.

"Predominantly, they are ambush predators by day and they will go out and hunt at night. Particularly in summer time, they will go out and hunt for insects and frogs and all that sort of stuff on the surface at night.''

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Fitzgerald said the latest fish release followed other regular projects in Somerset and Wivenhoe Dam carried out for more than three decades.

Hundreds of dead fish were found in Warrill Creek.
Hundreds of dead fish were found in Warrill Creek.

He was heartened by the response after people heard about the fish kill.

"It's really encouraging,'' he said.

"We put an SOS out. We've had a reaction from two local council authorities - Ipswich City Council and Scenic Rim - and we've also got reaction from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

"They've come out here to observe what is going on as well.''

Findings from water testing at the fish kill site were yet to be released.

However, the signs for the future were positive.

"We've had a look a short distance downstream, a long way downstream,'' the experienced restocking association president said.

"There is no fish kills that we can see and upstream of the Churchbank Weir, there is certainly no evidence any fish were killed.

"It seems to be quite confined to the one plunge pool.''



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