Dusky flathead stocking helps bring back the Lakes

12 March 2021

View original release here.

The Gippsland Lakes are another step closer to being back to a recreational fishing mecca with a Victorian-first stocking of 42,000 dusky flathead fingerlings at Metung and Lakes Entrance this week.

Minister for Fishing and Boating Melissa Horne said stocking the Lakes with popular species such as dusky flathead was a key part of the Gippsland Lakes Recreational Fishery Plan, launched in January.

The Plan was developed following the end of commercial net fishing in the Lakes last year, which was a flagship commitment of the Victorian Government’s investment to get more people recreational fishing, more often in more places.

The three-year trial dusky flathead stocking program run by the Victorian Fisheries Authority is a result of input from local fishing groups and key stakeholders, aimed at boosting populations of an icon species in Victoria’s eastern estuaries including Bemm River which was also stocked for the first time with 5,000 dusky flathead.

In January, dusky flathead broodfish were captured at Mallacoota with help from volunteers including the Mallacoota and District Angling Club.

As part of the collection process, DNA samples from across East Gippsland were gathered to map the genetic structure of dusky flathead stocks along the east coast.

The broodfish were then transported to a marine hatchery where they spawned. The larvae have grown to fingerlings size in the months since and are now ready for release into the wild.

A record 8 million fish will be stocked by April this year, with 10 million to be released in 2022. Some of these fish were Australian bass and estuary perch, released into tributaries of the Gippsland Lakes in December.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Fishing and Boating Melissa Horne

“This Victorian-first trial to stock dusky flathead into the Gippsland Lakes is a big step towards returning the Lakes to their former glory for recreational fishers.”

“We know recreational fishing contributes significantly to the local economy, so having better fisheries for key species like dusky flathead, will mean more money flowing into Gippsland businesses that depend on tourism.”

Quote attributable to Member for Eastern Victoria Jane Garrett

“This is another step towards revitalising our Gippsland Lakes which are an iconic destination for fishers around the state and will also provide an economic boost to the entire region.”