Murray cod

Murray codDistribution

Murray cod occurs throughout most of the Murray–Darling system, except for the upper reaches of some tributaries in Victoria and southern New South Wales.  

In Victoria, Murray cod were considered abundant in the Loddon, Campaspe and Goulburn rivers during the 19th century, but had declined in these rivers by the middle of the 20th century.  Hatchery-produced Murray cod have been stocked in Victorian waterways since 1981.

Stock structure

Genetic evidence indicates that Murray cod consists of one large biological stock through most of its distribution in the Murray-Darling Basin, although distinct populations have been identified in the Lachlan, Macquarie and Gwydir catchments (NSW).   

However, the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks report 2014 assessed the status of Murray cod at the Victorian state scale. 

Annual catch


Estimated Victorian catch


Fishing prohibited

Recreational (data from 2000/01 national survey)

≈ 27.5 tonnes

Indigenous (i.e. 2015/16 customary fishing permits)

0 tonnes

Estimated total

≈ 27.5 tonnes

Stock status

The table below summarises and explains the status and management of Murray cod based on: 

  1. Stock status: classification of the biological status of Murray cod in Victoria as at 2013, taken from the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.
    Read more here about the SAFS assessment approach and classification system.
  2. Management settings: overview of current management arrangements in Victorian waters, including any recent changes that may affect stock status.
  3. Risk management category: The Victorian Fisheries Authority's overall, qualitative assessment of current risk to stock status in Victorian waters taking into account management arrangements, based on the best information currently available:

    Red Red - current management measures may not be sufficient to prevent stock depletion
    Amber Amber - current management measures expected to mitigate risk of stock depletion
    Green Green - stock status not of concern under current management

The stock status classification, management settings and risk management category for Murray cod are all at the scale of Victorian waters. Stock status is based only on sustainability. Management settings and risk management category also consider the steps taken to address stock status. 

Management settings are also influenced by social and economic factors, and can take some time to affect a stock's status. This can depend on biological and environmental factors as well as the type and level of management changes implemented. 

Stock status (2013 data)

Key management settings

Risk management category



Recreational harvest is predominantly managed by size, possession and gear limits, and by restrictions on fishing times and locations.   

Catch limits for recreational anglers fishing in Victorian waters were changed in December 2014, to:

  • increase the minimum and maximum size limits statewide, to a 55-75cm slot limit which is consistent between Victoria and NSW
  • reduce the bag limit in rivers

Read more about the fishing methods and rules for Murray cod in Victoria.



Collectively, the following data provide evidence that this stock  should be classified as undefined. 

  • fishery dependent data: recreational catch
  • fishery independent data: see Murray‒Darling Basin Authority Sustainable Rivers Audit) .

While stock status assessment is constrained by data availability, FV is not aware of information that indicates stock status concerns

Basis for stock status classification (from SAFS 2014)

Biomass assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that there was insufficient, current information to confidently classify the biomass of Murray cod.

Fishing pressure assessment

Based on this evidence, SAFS 2014 concluded that there was insufficient information to confidently assess whether the level of fishing pressure was likely to cause the stock to become recruitment overfished.

Read more here about the assessment of Murray cod stock status as at 2013 in the national Status of Key Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) report 2014.