Community fights back to protect South West waterway from family-favourite fish

Oliver LaneBusselton Dunsborough Times
Feral Goldfish can significantly harm native ecosystems.
Camera IconFeral Goldfish can significantly harm native ecosystems. Credit: Supplied

“Feral goldfish beware” is the message OzFish volunteers are sending the invasive pest as a cull begins in Vasse waterways.

The Lower Vasse River has proved a good breeding ground for the fish, which have been recorded in the river growing up to 40cm long with a weight of 2kg.

According to not-for-profit group OzFish, the species has a significant impact on native fish, and without being controlled they could spread to the nearby Vasse Wonnerup wetlands.

OzFish program manager for WA Steve Pursell said a community approach to battling the species was the way to go.

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“We will utilise the power of community to bring the Goldfish issue in their river under control,” he said.

“Goldfish degrade natural ecosystems and do not belong in Aussie waterways.

“These opportunistic feeders prey on native fish species, compete for resources, spread fish diseases, and contribute to poor water quality by disturbing sediments.

“These fish have large mouths and a unique feeding behaviour where they sift through mud at the bottom of the river. This disturbs the sediment, releasing nutrients that can trigger harmful algal blooms. They also prey on eggs of our native fish.”

Pod traps are being used to catch the usually innocuous species of fish.
Camera IconPod traps are being used to catch the usually innocuous species of fish. Credit: Supplied

The scheme will use pod traps to capture the invasive fish while causing minimal harm to native species.

OzFish is calling on recreational fishers to help join the fight and volunteer their time.

Mr Pursell said the threats to the region’s waterways didn’t stop at goldfish.

“Goldfish removal is just one piece of the puzzle,” he said.

“We hope this project will empower community members to take positive action to make our local waterways more favourable for native fish than they are for these pests, including the right habitats and water quality.”

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