Highly endangered fish given new home in Munna Creek
MARY River Cod fingerlings have been released into Munna Creek, ready to mature and repopulate the water system, but already their lives are in danger.
Exactly 500 baby fish were sent swimming into the waterway earlier this morning as part of a re-population project facilitated by the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee (MRCCC).
Due to their habitat being destroyed by erosion and clearing of rocks or logs from waterways, and over-fishing by people, the Mary River Cod has been classed as one of Australia's most endangered freshwater fish.
Anyone caught with the fish in the Mary River catchment will receive an on-the-spot fine of $440 or a maximum penalty of $110,000.
Outside of the catchment area, a "take one only" rule applies.
MRCCC member Debbie Seal said despite the heavy fines, it was not stopping people from fishing for the cod in the Mary River.
"I have heard that even after people heard through the paper that we were releasing more cod here, they were down fishing for it," Debbie said.
"But they won't be able to catch these ones - they're too small right now."
She said while the Mary river was once full of the cod, the fish species was very particular about their habitat, and any disturbance would upset their ability to live there.
"They need clean water and logs or rocks to live around," she said.
"Using funding from the Federal Government, a property owner [on Munna Creek] is going to fence off the creek so cows can't make the problem worse anymore."
The 500 fingerlings were part of 15,000 raised at the Gerry Cook Fish Hatchery at Lake Macdonald in Cooroy.
Most were released in other parts of the catchment, and some were sent to a recreational fishers impound.