A new threat to the health of Blue Mountains waterways has emerged with the discovery of Redfin Perch, a noxious fish species, at Wentworth Falls Lake.
The Redfin Perch is native to northern Europe and was introduced to Australia in the 1860s for angling. The species is now widespread in NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT and occurs in parts of SA and WA.
It has become a serious pest, capable of destroying native fish populations and recreational fisheries. It breeds and grows fast, feeding voraciously on aquatic invertebrates (water bugs), and native fish. It can carry the Epizootic Haematopoietic Necrosis Virus, which is deadly to a range of native and stocked fish species. Redfin Perch is listed as a Class 1 Noxious Species in NSW
Redfin can breed rapidly in lakes and dams, forming very dense populations. Under these conditions, Redfin deplete the food supply, becoming stunted and worthless for angling.
At present there are no effective eradication methods known. Council is concerned about the impacts the Redfin may have on other fish species and aquatic invertebrates, such as the threatened Giant Blue Mountains Dragonfly at Wentworth Falls Lake, and downstream in Jamison Creek. A new population of Redfin was also found in 2014 at Lake Lyell, near Lithgow.
It is possible that the species was deliberately introduced to Wentworth Falls Lake and Lake Lyell. Such an action would be illegal and heavy penalties apply for the intentional introduction of Redfin Perch.
Recreational anglers may legally catch Redfin, in which case the fish should be humanely killed immediately and utilised or disposed of appropriately. The species may only be retained and transported if it is dead.
For more information visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au or contact NSW Department of Primary Industries Aquatic Biosecurity on 4982 1232. You can also call Council on 4780 5000.
Council’s Environment Levy funds regular water quality monitoring in Wentworth Falls Lake and other waterways throughout the Blue Mountains. For more information about local water quality, visit www.bmcc.nsw.gov.au/recreationalwaterquality.
PHOTO: Lake invader – Redfin Perch (Perca fluviatilis) are a serious pest, capable of destroying native fish populations and recreational fisheries. Note the characteristic orange-red pelvic and anal fins and tail; two separate dorsal fins and pattern of broad black vertical bands. (image courtesy: NSW DPI)
Help stop the spread of pest fish:
- Don’t transfer fish between waterways or into farm dams, and don’t use live fin fish as bait in freshwater;
- Don’t return pest species to the water – immediately kill humanely and utilise or dispose of appropriately;
- Help catch new invaders early: report suspected aquatic pests and/or information about possible illegal translocations of noxious species to the DPI hotline: 02 4916 3877 or firstname.lastname@example.org.