Stocking fish in farm dams

Translocation of fish into and within Victoria has the potential to spread disease and pest species, and threaten the biodiversity and ecological integrity of Victoria's freshwater systems. These threats have flow-on consequences, potentially affecting the economic and social benefits provided by recreational fishing, aquaculture, and the social and tourism benefits of being able to enjoy waters and foods free of pathogens, pest species and diseases.

The translocation and stocking of fish into farm dams, for non-commercial purposes, is allowed provided the following conditions are met:

a) the fish to be stocked are obtained legally from an aquaculture facility licensed under the Fisheries Act 1995 (the Act) or facility with equivalent interstate authorisation, or in the case of the common yabby (Cherax destructor) can also be sourced in accordance with the regulations that apply to recreational fishing in Victoria; and

b) the fish to be stocked are native to Victoria or are brown trout or rainbow trout; and

c) the fish are not declared as noxious aquatic species under the Act or protected or threatened under Victorian legislation (excludes protected or threatened aquatic biota obtained legally from an aquaculture facility); and

d) the fish must not be used for sale or other commercial purposes; and

e) the annual total number of fish stocked in each dam on your property must not exceed 300; and

f) you must obtain a declaration from the supplier that there have been no notifiable diseases (Livestock Disease Control Act 1994) or unexplained disease outbreaks at the source facility in the past 24 months; and

g) the fish are transported in a secure container sufficient to prevent release of fish; and

h) all transport containers are cleaned and disinfected after use or disposed to landfill; and

i) you must stock the fish on your property; and

j) the fish must not leave the  property alive after being stocked; and

k) the dam has appropriate screens, barriers, nets or other equipment in place sufficient to prevent the escape of fish; and

l) the dam is situated outside the East Gippsland river basin; and

m) the dam is situated above any 1 in 100 year floodplain that connects to public waters; and

n) the dam is situated greater than 100m away from any public waters.

Failure to follow these conditions, when stocking fish in a farm dam for non-commercial purposes, may result in a breach of the Act and lead to prosecution.

Notes on conditions for stocking fish in farm dams

All the conditions must be complied with in order to manage the biosecurity risks associated with stocking fish to farm dams.  If the conditions are not complied with then the applicant will be in breach of Section 42(1)(ba) of the Act.  Heavy penalties and possible imprisonment apply for illegal stocking of fish.

Public waters has the same meaning as the definition for inland and marine waters under Section 5 of the Act.  Effectively any public waterway, stream, creek, lake, river, billabong, lagoon, water storage, channel, bay, inlet etc.

a) Stock can only be sourced from licensed aquaculture facilities from Victoria or interstate. The only stock you can source from the wild is the common yabby (Cherax destructor) and only in accordance with regulations that apply to recreational fishing in Victoria, including licensing requirements and bag/possession limits.

b) Only rainbow and brown trout and fish that are native to Victoria can be stocked in farm dams.

c) No noxious, threatened or protected aquatic species can be stocked in farm dams.  The only exclusion applies to threatened or protected aquatic species obtained legally from a licensed aquaculture facility. Examples of threatened species that are routinely produced by aquaculture farmers include Murray cod, silver perch and freshwater catfish. 

d) The fish must be stocked for personal use and not for sale or other commercial purposes.  The stocking of fish for commercial purposes will require an aquaculture licence.

e) No more than 300 fish can be stocked into any single dam on the property per year.  The average stocking density recommended for natives and rainbows and browns is around 250-300 fish per hectare. 

f) A declaration from the supplier that there have been no notifiable disease or unexplained disease outbreaks at the source facility in the past 24 months helps ensure you get healthy stock that are more likely to survive in your dam.  Fish mortalities can be high when stocking is conducted and having disease free stock will help decrease these mortalities. The declaration signed by the supplier must be kept by the stocking applicant for a period of 5 years after the date of signature. There is no need to submit the declaration with this application form. 

g) Fish must be transported in secure containers to ensure escape or accidental release of fish does not occur.

h) Any containers used to transport the fish must be disposed to landfill or disinfected if they are to be used again to reduce the risk associated with disease.

i) You can only stock the fish on the property stipulated on the authority letter.

j) The fish must not leave the property alive after being stocked. The authority to stock only applies to the property stipulated on the authority letter.

k) The dam must have appropriate screens, barriers, nets or other equipment in place sufficient to prevent the escape of fish.  This is a key biosecurity requirement to ensure fish remain in the dam.

l) The dam must be outside the East Gippsland river basin. Applicants from this basin will need to make a separate application to stock. Please contact The Victorian Fisheries Authority on (03) 5258 0218 if you propose to stock in this basin.

m) The dam must not be in a 1 in 100 year flood zone that connects to public waters. This is to manage the risk of fish escape during heavy rains.

n) The dam must be greater than 100 metres from a public waterway to help manage the risk of escape.