Golden Perch (2023)

Macquaria ambigua

  • Jason Earl (South Australian Research and Development Institute)
  • Brett Ingram (Victorian Fisheries Authority)
  • Thomas Hart (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland)
  • David Crook (New South Wales Department of Primary Industries)

Date Published: June 2023

You are currently viewing a report filtered by jurisdiction. View the full report.

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Golden Perch is an inland species found throughout most of the Murray-Darling Basin, the Lake Eyre and Bulloo drainage systems, and the Dawson-Fitzroy River systems of southern QLD. While available evidence indicates some population structuring at both the drainage system and finer scales, differences in data availability and management arrangements among states and territories mean that this assessment is presented at the jurisdictional level. Golden Perch is classified as undefined in QLD, depleted in NSW, recovering in VIC, and depleting in SA.

Photo: Department of Primary Industries, New South Wales

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Stock Status Overview

Stock status determination
Jurisdiction Stock Stock status Indicators
Victoria Victoria Recovering


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Stock Structure

Golden Perch occur throughout most of the Murray–Darling system, as well as in the Lake Eyre and Bulloo drainage systems of Queensland, New South Wales and South Australia, and the Dawson-Fitzroy river system in southern Queensland [Lintermans 2007]. Translocated fish also occur in numerous other waterways and impoundments throughout south-eastern Australia [Allen et al. 2002]. 

Golden Perch in the Murray-Darling Basin are genetically distinct from Golden Perch in the Lake Eyre, Bulloo and Fitzroy systems [Faulks et al. 2010a,b; Beheregaray et al. 2017]. Murray-Darling Golden Perch form a well-connected metapopulation with low-level basin-wide population structure, reflecting their ability to migrate and disperse long distances [Faulks et al. 2010b; Beheregaray et al. 2017; Attard et al. 2018; Zampatti et al. 2018]. However, subtle genetic differences and regional differences in population structures driven by unique recruitment sources suggest sub-structuring across some regions. Examples include the Lower Lakes [Earl et al. 2015] and Paroo River [Attard et al. 2018], and potentially the physically disconnected and hydrologically impacted Victorian tributaries of the River Murray and some NSW tributaries of the Barwon-Darling (e.g., Lachlan River [Shams et al. 2020]). Sub-structuring is also evident in the Lake Eyre Basin [Faulks et al. 2010b]. Although genetic studies suggest the existence of several biological stocks, there are differences in management arrangements and available information in the various jurisdictions that access Golden Perch. 

To account for these differences, assessment of stock status is presented here at the jurisdictional level—Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.

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Stock Status


Commercial harvest of Golden Perch in Victoria ceased in 2001 and there is no recent information on recreational harvest or effort at state level. In the absence of consistent, long-term estimates of population abundances and harvest by recreational anglers, the status of Golden Perch in Victoria was assessed using nominal catch estimates and length composition from infrequent and irregular fishery-independent (electrofishing) surveys of six indicator riverine populations (Broken Creek and River, Campaspe River, Goulburn River, Gunbower Creek, Loddon River and Wimmera River) [Conron et al. 2020, Ingram and Lieschke 2023]. 

In recent years, electrofishing survey catch per unit effort (CPUE; number of fish per machine minute) has increased in five indicator rivers (Broken Creek and River, Campaspe River, Goulburn River, Loddon River and Gunbower Creek), and declined in one river (Wimmera River), the CPUE of which was below the average CPUE for the reference period (1996–2015) for the recent three years [Bell et al. 2023].  The CPUE for the Goulburn River and Gunbower Creek have been above the average for the reference period since the early 2010s, for the Campaspe River and Broken Creek and River, Goulburn River since the mid-2010s and for the Loddon River since the late 2010s.

All six indicator rivers are stocked annually with hatchery-bred juveniles, which may be masking natural recruitment. Regular stocking into the Campaspe, Goulburn and Loddon rivers is making a substantial contribution to populations [Ingram et al. 2015; Tonkin et al. 2019].  All Golden Perch sampled from the Campaspe River above Rochester were stocked and the majority of fish sampled from the Goulburn and Loddon rivers were stocked [Tonkin et al. 2019]. There is no definitive information available to determine if stocked fish are contributing to fisheries in the Broken Creek and River, Gunbower Creek, Loddon River and Wimmera River.

There is no information on fishing pressure, biomass and size composition for Golden Perch in impoundments in Victoria, where populations are largely sustained by stocking rather than natural recruitment. In 2021–22, 2.968M Golden Perch were released across Victoria [https://vfa.vic.gov.au/recreational-fishing/fish-stocking, accessed on 18-Sep-2023]. 

On the basis that CPUE appears to be increasing in five of six indicator rivers, it is anticipated that the Golden Perch stock will continue to improve, and in instances where environmental conditions are favourable, the re-stocked populations are expected to support recovery via natural recruitment. 

The above evidence indicates that the biomass of this stock is likely to be depleted and that recruitment is likely to be impaired. However, recent increases in annual electrofishing survey CPUE for five of six indicator riverine populations suggest a recovering stock. 

On the basis of the evidence provide above, Golden Perch in Victoria is classified as a recovering stock.

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[Roberts et al. 2008; Forbes et al. 2015; Mallen-Cooper and Stuart 2003]

Species Longevity / Maximum Size Maturity (50 per cent)
Golden Perch

27 years; 640 mm TL

225–371 mm TL; 2–4.9 years. Variable across geographical regions. 

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Distribution of reported commercial catch of Golden Perch.

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Fishing methods
Hook and Line
Management methods
Method Victoria
Customary fishing permits
Bag limits
Gear restrictions
Size limit
Indigenous Unknown
Recreational Unknown

Queensland – Indigenous (management methods). For more information see https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/business-priorities/fisheries/traditional-fishing 

Queensland – Recreational Fishing (Catch). Data are based at the whole of Queensland level and derived from statewide recreational fishing surveys. Where possible, estimates have been converted to weight (tonnes) using best known conversion multipliers. Conversion factors may display regional or temporal variability. In the absence of an adequate conversion factor, data presented as number of fish.

Victoria – Indigenous (Management Methods). A person who identifies as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is exempt from the need to obtain a Victorian recreational fishing licence, provided they comply with all other rules that apply to recreational fishers, including rules on equipment, catch limits, size limits and restricted areas. Traditional (non-commercial) fishing activities that are carried out by members of a traditional owner group entity under an agreement pursuant to Victoria’s Traditional Owner Settlement Act 2010 are also exempt from the need to hold a recreational fishing licence, subject to any conditions outlined in the agreement. Native title holders are also exempt from the need to obtain a recreational fishing licence under the provisions of the Commonwealth’s Native Title Act 1993.

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Catch Chart

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Downloadable reports

Click the links below to view reports from other years for this fish.