Murray Cod (2018)
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Murray Cod is the largest solely freshwater fish in Australia. It occurs throughout most of the Murray–Darling system. Stock status is depleted in the ACT and SA, and undefined in NSW, QLD and VIC.
Stock Status Overview
|Queensland||Queensland||Undefined||Fishery-independent surveys, recreational fishing surveys|
Murray Cod is the largest solely freshwater fish in Australia. It occurs throughout most of the Murray–Darling system, except for the upper reaches of some tributaries in Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and southern New South Wales. Investigation of the genetic structure in the Murray–Darling Basin has demonstrated that there is one large genetically panmictic biological stock throughout most of its distribution [Rourke et al. 2011]. However, genetically distinct populations have been identified in the more isolated Lachlan, Macquarie and Gwydir catchments [Rourke et al. 2011]. This separation appears to be the result of restricted gene flow due to the isolated nature of these catchments [Rourke et al. 2011]. Although genetic studies suggest the existence of one biological stock, there are differences in management arrangements and available information in the various jurisdictions.
Here, assessment of stock status is presented at the jurisdictional level—Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
Anecdotal evidence provided by recreational anglers have described substantial declines in Murray Cod populations in Queensland [Steven Brooks pers. comm.]. It is generally accepted that native fish populations in the Murray–Darling Basin’s rivers have declined to an estimated 10 per cent of the levels before European settlement [Murray–Darling Basin Commission 2004]. The decline is thought to have resulted from a combination of flow regulation, habitat degradation, reduced water quality, barriers to movement, introduced species and overexploitation from illegal fishing [Murray–Darling Basin Commission 2004].
Approximately 100 000 fingerlings have been stocked each year throughout their range in Queensland since the mid-1980s. A large proportion of these fingerlings are stocked into impounded waters, where natural recruitment levels are low [Steven Brooks pers. comm.]. The Murray–Darling Basin Authority Sustainable Rivers Audit, fishery-independent monitoring and anecdotal evidence from recreational fishers suggest an increase in numbers in the Border Rivers region, which may be attributed to extensive stocking in this catchment [Butler et al. unpublished data, Steven Brooks pers. comm.]. The audit and other fishery-independent monitoring have been undertaken in several other rivers and catchments in Queensland [Murray–Darling Basin Commission 2004, Steven Brooks pers. comm.]. However, the lack of consistency in sampling methodologies and the low numbers of Murray Cod recorded during the monitoring makes accurate biomass estimates difficult.
The Queensland area of the Murray–Darling Basin has never supported a commercial fishery, although there is a recreational fishery throughout the northern Murray‒Darling catchment. The species is mostly targeted within the Dumaresq, Macintyre, Moonie, Condamine, Balonne and Warrego Rivers and their tributaries; fish are also occasionally reported from the Paroo River [Steven Brooks pers. comm., Taylor et al. 2012]. A survey of recreational participation and catch was conducted in 2014 [Webley et al. 2015], but harvest estimates for Murray Cod were unreliable. A recent study in the Border Rivers region suggests that harvest of this species remains high, with most fish being removed from the population within two years of reaching legal size [Butler et al. unpublished data]. While this suggests that fishing pressure is high, data are presently too uncertain to accurately estimate fishing mortality. Therefore, there is insufficient information available to confidently classify the status of this stock.
On the basis of the evidence provided above, Murray Cod in Queensland is classified as an undefined stock.
Murray Cod biology [Anderson et al. 1992, Butler et al. unpublished data, Gooley et al. 1995, King et al. 2009, Lake 1967, Pollard 1966, Rowland 1985, Rowland 1998a, Whitley 1955]
|Species||Longevity / Maximum Size||Maturity (50 per cent)|
|Murray Cod||At least 48 years, ~1800 mm TL , 83 kg||First maturity at ~4–5 years, ~400–600 mm TL for both sexes. Variable across geographic regions|
|Hook and Line|
|Hook and Line|
Commercial (management methods) Murray Cod captured by the Lakes and Coorong Fishery are currently protected under South Australian fishing regulations.
Indigenous (management methods) Indigenous fishers who can satisfy the requirements of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) in relation to their connection to the specific area or waters may take sufficient Murray Cod to satisfy their customary, non-commercial domestic needs in South Australia and Queensland. Indigenous fishers who do not satisfy these requirements are subject to the standard recreational bag limits, size limits and closures.
Victoria – Indigenous fishing In Victoria, regulations for managing recreational fishing may not apply to fishing activities by Indigenous people. Victorian traditional owners may have rights under the Commonwealth's Native Title Act 1993 to hunt, fish, gather and conduct other cultural activities for their personal, domestic or non-commercial communal needs, without the need to obtain a licence. Traditional Owners that have agreements under the Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 (Vic) may also be authorised to fish without the requirement to hold a recreational fishing licence. Outside of these arrangements, Indigenous Victorians can apply for permits under the Fisheries Act 1995 (Vic) that authorise customary fishing (for example, different catch and size limits or equipment).
- Anderson, JR, Morison, AK and Ray, DJ 1992, Age and growth of Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii (Perciformes: Percichthyidae), in the lower Murray–Darling Basin, from thin-sectioned otoliths, Australian Journal of Marine and Freshwater Research, 43: 983–1013.
- Australian Capital Territory Government 2015, Fish stocking plan for the Australian Capital Territory 2015–2020, Environment and Planning Directorate, Canberra.
- Australian Capital Territory Government 2017, Native Species Conservation Plan: Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii), Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate, Canberra.
- Australian Capital Territory Government, unpublished data.
- Barwick, MJ, Koehn, JD, Crook, DA, Todd, CR, Westaway, C and Trueman, W 2014, The future for managing recreational fisheries in the Murray–Darling Basin, Ecological Management and Restoration, 15: 75–81.
- Cadwallader, PL 1977, JO Langtry’s 1949–50 Murray River investigations, Fisheries and Wildlife Paper, Victoria, 13: 1–70.
- Cadwallader, PL and Gooley, GJ, 1984, Past and present distributions and translocations of Murray cod Maccullochella peelii and trout cod M. macquariensis (Pisces: Percichthyidae) in Victoria, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria, 96: 33–43.
- Couch, AJ 2017, Murray Cod: Distribution, dispersal and hybridisation in the upper Murrumbidgee River, PhD thesis, Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra.
- Couch, AJ, Unmack, PJ, Dyer, FJ and Lintermans, M 2016, Who’s your mama? Riverine hybridisation of threatened freshwater Trout Cod and Murray Cod, PeerJ Preprints 4:e2593, DOI 10.7717/peerj.2593.
- Davies, PE, Harris, JH, Hillman, TJ and Walker, KF 2008, Sustainable Rivers Audit Report 1: A Report on the ecological health of rivers in the Murray–Darling Basin, 2004–2007, prepared by the Independent Sustainable Rivers Audit Group for the Murray–Darling Basin Ministerial Council, Murray–Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.
- Davies, PE, Stewardson, MJ, Hillman, TJ, Roberts, JR and Thoms, MC 2012, Sustainable Rivers Audit 2: The ecological health of rivers in the Murray–Darling Basin at the end of the Millennium Drought (2008–2010), volume 1, prepared by the Independent Sustainable Rivers Audit Group for the Murray–Darling Basin, Murray–Darling Basin Authority, Canberra.
- Forbes, J, Watts, RJ, Robinson, WA, Baumgartner, LJ, McGuffie, P, Cameron, LM and Crook, DA 2015b, Assessment of stocking effectiveness for Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii) and golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) in rivers and impoundments of south-eastern Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 67: 1410–1419.
- Forbes, JP, Watts, RJ, Robinson, WA, Baumgartner, LJ, Steffe, AS and Murphy, JJ 2015a, Recreational Fishing Effort, Catch, and Harvest for Murray Cod and Golden Perch in the Murrumbidgee River, Australia, North American Journal of Fisheries Management, 35: 649–658.
- Fulton, W 2011, Sustainability of recreational fisheries for Murray Cod in the Murray–Darling Basin, final report to the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, project 2006/053, Victorian Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
- Gavin Butler, Steven Brooks and Daniel Smith, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, and Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, unpublished data.
- Gillanders, BM and Ye, Q 2011, Ecological risk assessment of stocking Murray Cod in South Australia, report to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (Fisheries and Aquaculture), School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Adelaide, and South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), SARDI publication F2011/000299-1, SARDI research report series 571, SARDI, Adelaide.
- Giri, K and Hall, K 2015, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey 2013/14, Fisheries Victoria Internal Report Series No. 62, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
- Gooley, GJ, Anderson, TA and Appleford, P 1995, Aspects of the reproductive cycle and gonadal development of Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii (Michell) (Percichthyidae), in Lake Charlegrark and adjacent farm ponds, Victoria, Australia, Marine and Freshwater Research, 46: 723–728.
- Greenham, P 1981, Murrumbidgee River aquatic ecology study, report to the National Capital Development Commission and the Department of Territories and Local Government, Canberra College of Advanced Education, Canberra.
- Harris, J and Gehrke P 1997, Fish and rivers in stress: The NSW rivers survey, New South Wales Fisheries Office of Conservation and Cooperative Research Centre for Freshwater Ecology, in association with New South Wales Resource and Conservation Assessment Council, Cronulla.
- Henry, GW and Lyle, JM 2003, The National Recreational and Indigenous Fishing Survey, Fisheries Research and Development Corporation project 00/158, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
- Humphries, P 2005, Spawning time and early life history of Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii (Mitchell) in an Australian river, Environmental Biology of Fishes, 72: 393–407.
- Hunt, TL and Giri, K 2015, Estimating the economic benefits of recreational fishing in the Nagambie Lakes System, Fisheries Victoria Science Report Series No. 7, Fisheries Victoria, Queenscliff.
- Ingram, BA and De Silva, SS 2004, Development of intensive commercial aquaculture production technology for Murray Cod, Primary Industries Research Victoria, Marine and Freshwater Systems, Department of Primary Industries, Queenscliff.
- Jones, K 2009, South Australian Recreational Fishing Survey 2007/08, South Australian fisheries management series 54, Primary Industries and Resources South Australia, Adelaide.
- Kaminskas, S 2015, Canberra Region Fishing Late 1800s and Early 1900s. Version 1.4. Published by the author, Canberra.
- King, AJ, Tonkin, Z and Mahoney, J 2009, Environmental flow enhances native fish spawning and recruitment in the Murray River, Australia, River Research and Applications, 25: 1205–1218.
- Lake, JS 1967, Principal fishes of the Murray–Darling River system, in AH Weatherley (ed.), Australian inland waters and their fauna: eleven studies, Australian National University, Canberra.
- Lintermans, M 2000, The Status of Fish in the Australian Capital Territory: A Review of Current Knowledge and Management Requirements, Technical Report 15, Environment Australian Capital Territory, Canberra.
- McGovern, A and Lintermans, M 2003, A creel survey of fish in the Murrumbidgee River, Australian Capital Territory, final report to Fisheries Action Program, Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Canberra.
- Murray–Darling Basin Commission 2004, Native fish strategy for the Murray–Darling Basin 2003–2013, publication 25/04, Murray– Darling Basin Commission, Canberra.
- Pollard, J 1966, The scream of the reel: Deep sea, beach, estuary and inland angling in Australian and New Zealand waters, A.H. & A.W. Reed, Wellington.
- Ross-Magee, P 2018, Using volunteer anglers to survey Murray Cod: What’s the catch? Masters Thesis, University of Canberra, Canberra.
- Rourke, ML, McPartlan, HC, Ingram, BA and Taylor, AC 2011, Variable stocking effect and endemic population genetic structure in Murray cod Maccullochella peelii, Journal of Fish Biology, 79: 155–177.
- Rowland, SJ 1985, Aspects of the biology and artificial breeding of the Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii and the Eastern Freshwater Cod M. ikei sp. nov. (Pisces: Percichthyidae), PhD Thesis, Macquarie University, Sydney.
- Rowland, SJ 1989, Aspects of the history and fishery of the Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii (Mitchell) (Percitchthyidae), Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 111: 201–213.
- Rowland, SJ 1998a, Age and growth of the Australian freshwater fish Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 120: 163–179.
- Rowland, SJ 1998b, Aspects of the reproductive biology of Murray Cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii, Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales, 120: 147–162.
- Rowland, SJ 2013, Hatchery production for conservation and stock enhancement: the case of Australian freshwater fish, in G Allan and G Burnell (eds), Advances in aquaculture hatchery technology, Woodhead Publishing, Cambridge, England.
- Schirmer, J and Mylek, M 2016, Water quality and the community: Understanding the views, values and actions of residents of the ACT and Surrounding Region, Report to ACT Government, University of Canberra, Canberra.
- Taylor, S, Webley, J and McInnes, K 2012, 2010 Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey, Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Brisbane.
- Victorian Fisheries Authority 2017, Target One Million, Victorian Fisheries Authority, Melbourne, https://vfa.vic.gov.au/recreational-fishing/target-one-million.
- Webley, J, McInnes, K, Teixeira, D, Lawson, A and Quinn, R 2015, Statewide Recreational Fishing Survey 2013–14, State of Queensland, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane.
- West, LD, Stark, KE, Murphy, JJ, Lyle, JM and Ochwada-Doyle, FA 2016, Survey of Recreational Fishing in New South Wales and the ACT, 2013/14, Fisheries Final Report Series No. 149, New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Woolongong.
- Whitley, GP 1955, The largest (and the smallest) Australian fishes, Australian Museum Magazine, 11: 329–332. Introducing this fish into the River Yarra-Yarra, Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, 2: 23–34.
- Wilson, E 1857, On the Murray River Cod, with particulars of experiments instituted for introducing this fish into the River Yarra-Yarra. Transactions of the Philosophical Institute of Victoria, 2: 23–34.
- Ye, Q and Zampatti, B 2007, Murray cod stock status: the Lower River Murray, South Australia, Stock status report to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia (Fisheries), South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), SARDI publication F2007-000211-1, SARDI research report series 208, SARDI, Adelaide.
- Ye, Q, Giatas, G, Aldridge, K, Busch, B, Brookes, J, Gibbs, M, Hipsey, M, Lorenz, Z, Maas, R, Oliver, R, Shiel, R, Woodhead, J and Zampatti, B 2018, Long-term Intervention Monitoring of the ecological responses to Commonwealth Environmental Water delivered to the Lower Murray River Selected Area in 2016/17: A report prepared for the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office by the South Australian Research and Development Institute, Aquatic Sciences, Adelaide.
- Ye, Q, Jones, K and Pierce, B 2000, Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii), Fishery assessment report to Primary Industries and Resources South Australia for the Inland Waters Fishery Management Committee, South Australian fisheries assessment series 2000/17, South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), Adelaide.
- Zampatti, BP, Bice, CM, Wilson, PJ and Ye, Q 2014, Population dynamics of Murray Cod (Maccullochella peelii) in the South Australian reaches of the River Murray: a synthesis of data from 2002–2013, report to Primary Industries and Regions South Australia (Fisheries and Aquaculture), South Australian Research and Development Institute (Aquatic Sciences), SARDI publication F2014/000089-1, SARDI research report series 761, SARDI, Adelaide.
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