The Mary River Cod Research and Recovery Plan

Robert Simpson and Peter Jackson
Queensland Department of Primary Industries, Fisheries Group

3. Research and recovery plan

The Mary River Cod Research and Recovery Plan was developed by the Mary River Cod Recovery Team. The Plan was completed and submitted to Environment Australia (then Australian Nature Conservation Agency) in 1996. While the principles and objectives of the Recovery Plan have not changed since that time, considerable progress has been made with some of the recommended actions. The following sections reproduce the General Principles, Objectives, Criteria, Recommended Actions, and Implementation Schedule as submitted in 1996. Section 3.3.2. has been added to provide an update on progress with recovery actions as of September 1999.

The Mary River Cod Recovery Team

The Recovery Team was established in 1994 with the following membership:

  • Colin Limpus (Chair) — Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage
  • Peter Tierney — Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage
  • Les Kropp — Land-owner/irrigator, Mary River Integrated Catchment Management Coordinating Committee
  • Phil Cadwallader — Queensland Fisheries Management Authority
  • Jan Tilden/Maria van der Graat — National Threatened Species Network
  • Gerry Cook — Lake Macdonald Fish Hatchery
  • Russell Manning — Manning Fish Hatchery; Lake Macdonald Angling Club
  • Steve Kelly — Mary River Integrated Catchment Management
  • Jamie Pook — Australian Nature Conservation Agency
  • Ed Miller — Queensland Department of Natural Resources (Water Resources)
  • Peter Jackson — Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries)
  • Bob Simpson (Secretary) — Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries)
  • Stuart Bunn — Land and Water Resources Research and Development Council

Since completion of the Recovery Plan in 1996, the Recovery Team has continued to meet approximately twice yearly to review progress with recovery actions. Although membership of the Recovery Team has changed considerably since 1994 it's focus as a joint community/government team has been maintained. The current (1999) composition of the Recovery Team is:

  • Peter Jackson (chair) — Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries)
  • Doug Schulz /Peter Tierney — Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage
  • Bernadette Kerby — Queensland Fisheries Management Authority
  • Gerry Cook — former manager of Lake Macdonald Fish Hatchery
  • Vince Collis — Noosa District Community Hatchery Association
  • Lionel Shambrook — Noosa District Community Hatchery Association
  • Darren Knowles — Noosa District Community Hatchery Association
  • Brian Stockwell — Queensland Department of Natural Resources
  • Bob Simpson (Secretary) — Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries)
  • John Dillon — Barung Landcare Association
  • Don Garnet — Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol
  • Kevin Pengelley — Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Forestry)
  • Sandy Jones — Mary River Cod Community Network
  • Glenda Pickersgill — Mary River Cod Habitat Officer
  • Ray Kelly — Noosa Shire Council
  • Stuart Bunn/Mark Kennard — Land and Water Resources Research and Development Council

3.1. General principles

  • Mary River cod recovery will not occur without community involvement and ownership in the development and implementation of a recovery plan
  • Community involvement needs to be backed by adequate biological information
  • Existing groups/networks should be used in preference to establishing new ones
  • The plan should maximise 'on the ground' outcomes so that the community can relate to it

3.2. Recovery objectives and criteria

The overall objective of the Mary River cod Research and Recovery Plan is to secure and enhance populations of Mary River cod in the Mary River system, and to restore populations of cod in their historic range in south-eastern Queensland. The priority is to ensure the long-term conservation of the Mary River cod, however utilisation of the species at a sustainable level is also a goal. Because of the limited geographic range of the Mary River cod, it's vulnerability to capture and depletion, and ongoing catchment modifications, it is likely that the species will require ongoing special management to maintain populations beyond the time frame of this Recovery Plan.

1. Short-term objectives (1996 - 2000)

  • Engage community involvement
  • Protect existing populations from exploitation in the Mary River system
  • Improve hatchery production and begin stocking to establish new populations
  • Implement research to obtain data on key aspects of life history and hatchery technology, etc.
Performance criteria:
  • Stakeholders identified, public forum held, and draft recovery outline developed accordingly by mid 1995
  • Community cod network established by 1996 (and ongoing).
  • Regulations in place to protect cod from exploitation by 1998.
  • Support provided to hatcheries and five-year strategic plan for cod production implemented by 1997 (and ongoing)
  • Criteria established for stocking of cod for conservation and recreation purposes and stocking commenced by 1998
  • Funding for further research procured, and research initiated by 1997.

2. Medium-term objectives (by 2005)

  • Encourage community ownership of cod recovery
  • Implement habitat rehabilitation program in the Mary River catchment, and other
  • target catchments, in collaboration with the community
  • Implement restocking program in other target catchments
  • Implement restocking program in impoundments for conservation purposes (ie. establish breeding populations)
Performance Criteria:
  • Community cod network actively involved in cod recovery, including commencement of appropriate rehabilitation of stream and riparian habitats by 2005
  • Cod released into Brisbane-Stanley, Albert-Logan and Coomera River systems according to established criteria, and with appropriate monitoring in place by 2005
  • Cod stocked into selected impoundments and monitoring in place by 2005

3. Long-term objectives (by 2010)

  • Mary River cod established as an important cultural icon for the Mary River catchment
  • Ecological sustainability of populations in the wild
  • Monitoring to ensure sustainability
Performance Criteria:
  • Mary River cod a prominent focus of community activities and actions related to catchment management and environmental issues generally
  • Long-term monitoring indicates new cod populations established by 2010
  • Conservation status of Mary River cod downlisted from Endangered to Vulnerable (ANCA Endangered Species Program definitions) by 2010

3.3. Recovery actions

3.3.1. Recommended recovery actions

Action 1. Establish a program of community involvement/education to develop public support for the conservation of Mary River cod.

It is essential that the general community is aware of the problems faced by Mary River cod, and that they become involved in conservation and management procedures to help restore cod populations. This can be largely achieved through existing networks, including schools, land and water management groups (eg.Landcare), conservation groups, angling clubs, and local and state government authorities and departments. Information should be disseminated to people in the Mary River catchment, and in other areas where cod are likely to be restocked, via newspaper and magazine articles, the publication of resource material, production of a promotional video, public meetings, and displays at country agricultural shows. It is proposed that a part-time person be employed to develop and coordinate a program of community education and involvement as outlined above.

1.1. Hold a series of public forums to inform the public of the recovery process, seek their input in development of the recovery plan, and establish community links.

Funding already received from Endangered Species Unit.

1.2. Appoint a part-time officer to develop and coordinate a program of community education and involvement.
1.2.1. Employ a Mary River Cod Community Liaison Worker
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.0         1.0
Operating 0.55         0.55
Total 1.55 0 0 0 0 1.55

Estimated cost ($000's)

1.2.2. Contact relevant stakeholders in the catchment
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 9.2         9.2
Operating 1.13         1.13
Total 10.33 0 0 0 0 10.33

Estimated cost ($000's)

1.2.3. Develop a 'Cod Recovery Network' with a strategy for community involvement
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 7.2 4.2 2.0     13.4
Operating 0.75 0 0     0.75
Total 7.95 4.2 2.0 0 0

Estimated cost ($000's)

1.2.4. Involve the network in 'on-the-ground' actions identified in the Recovery Plan
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 11.4 15.0 20.0 25.0 25.0 96.4
Operating 0.88 0 0 0 0 0.88
Total 12.28 15.0 20.0 25.0 25.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

1.2.5. Move responsibility from the Recovery Team to the Community Cod Recovery Network
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 4.95 5.8 3.0     13.75
Operating 0 0 0     0
Total 4.95 5.8 3.0 0 0

Estimated cost ($000's)

Action 2. Develop and implement regulatory and administrative actions to protect Mary River cod and their habitats.

The enforcement of appropriate capture regulations, and the implementation of management procedures at a government level, will be very important in ensuring that Mary River cod and their habitats are afforded adequate protection.

The Mary River Cod Recovery Team recommends that regulatory protection of Mary River cod and their habitats should be sought under the Fisheries Act 1994. The main alternative to this is to list cod under the Nature Conservation Act 1992. Fisheries legislation is preferred for a number of reasons. There is a general agreement between the Department of Primary Industries and Department of Environment that fish species of commercial or recreational importance are not listed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, but remain under the management of the fisheries agency. The Fisheries Act 1994 is equipped with a range of standard, well defined and well understood regulations (eg. possession limits, fishing closures) to control the take of any nominated species. There is also a well trained patrol body (Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol) whose role it is to enforce regulations under the Fisheries Act 1994.

Despite the fact that the Recovery Team recommends that Mary River cod not be managed under the Nature Conservation Act 1992, the possibility of listing it as an endangered species under that act but setting regulations under the Fisheries Act 1994 is being investigated. In the longer term, if for any reason fisheries legislation does not achieve the desired outcomes for cod populations, listing and management under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 will be considered.

The Mary River Cod Recovery Team presents the following two options for regulating the take of Mary River cod under the Fisheries Act 1994. These options will be discussed by the Freshwater Management Advisory Committee (QFMA), and with relevant fish management/stocking groups. The regulations will become part of QFMA's Freshwater Fisheries Management Plan through the management planning process. It is intended that regulations would be put in place for an initial period of three years, after which time the Recovery Team will review the situation.

Option 1 — Possession limit of 0 in all riverine areas

  • Possession limit of 1 in impoundments where cod have been stocked for recreational use

Option 2 — Possession limit of 0 in all riverine areas

  • Possession limit of 1 in impoundments where cod have been stocked for recreational use
  • Closure to all fishing in designated critical habitats of the Mary River cod (areas to be determined)

At present, limited resources are available to police regulations in freshwater areas such as the Mary River, and extra resources should be made available to increase the presence of enforcement officers in these areas. The possibility of utilising additional departmental officers (eg. Forestry officers) to assist Boating and Fisheries Patrol inspectors should be investigated.

Protection of important cod habitats via either appropriate scale management plans, or gazettal of habitat areas under the Fisheries Act 1994 will be investigated. Additionally, management guidelines to ensure the long-term maintenance of cod populations and stream habitats in the Mary River system should be developed and implemented. Areas requiring attention include:

  • the maintenance of environmental flows in regulated stream sections;
  • restrictions on the introduction of non-indigenous fish species; and
  • the maintenance of fish passage past artificial stream barriers.

The Recovery Team recommends that a moratorium should be placed on the construction of new water storage impoundments in the Mary River system until information is available to indicate the expected effect of these on cod.

Areas of key habitat for Mary River cod should also be documented and distributed to natural resource managers in the Mary catchment so that these areas can be given special attention in the development of resource management plans.

The translocation of non-indigenous fishes into the Mary River is regarded by the Recovery Team as a potential danger to the protection and re-establishment of Mary River cod populations. Of particular concern is the introduction of species closely related to Mary River cod - namely Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) and eastern freshwater cod (Maccullochella ikei) - due to the potential for hybridisation. Therefore:

The Recovery Team recommends against any further introduction of non-indigenous fish species into the Mary River system (including farm dams), and in particular, highlights the potential dangers of introducing Murray cod or eastern freshwater cod.

Short term actions

2.1. Incorporate the options regulating the take of Mary River cod into QFMA's consultation process for the development of the Freshwater Fisheries Management Plan.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.5         0.5
Operating 0.2         0.2
Total 0.7 0 0 0 0 0.7

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.2. Prepare a document listing all key cod habitats in the Mary River, and liaise with Resource Management authorities and landholders to ensure protection of these habitats.
2.2.1. Utilise existing data to document key cod habitats in the Mary River, and identify key elements of the habitat requiring protection.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.5         0.5
Operating 0         0
Total 0.5 0 0 0 0 0.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.2.2. Protect key cod habitats under the Fisheries Act 1994 by gazettal of fish habitat areas or appropriate scale management plans. The steps to achieve this are:
  1. Develop project proposal for declaration of fish habitat areas or management plans
  2. Prepare area of interest plan
  3. Undertake community/stakeholder consultation and amend area of interest plan as required
  4. Develop proposal plan and submit for declaration by order in council
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   2.0 7.7 5.4 8.7 23.8
Operating   1.0 5.5 3.5 6.0 16.0
Total 0 3.0 13.2 8.9 14.7

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.2.3. Meet with Resource Management authorities and landholders to discuss document and strategies for protecting cod habitat.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 6.0         6.0
Operating 2.6         2.6
Total 8.6 0 0 0 0 8.6

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.2.4. Monitor relevant resource management documents to assess the incorporation of agreed strategies.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   1.0 1.0 1.0 1.0 4.0
Operating   0.6 0.6 0.6 0.6 2.4
Total 0 1.6 1.6 1.6 1.6 6.4

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.3. Evaluate current fish translocation practices in south-eastern Queensland in consultation with local angling clubs and fish management groups, and develop a strategy to minimise impacts on cod populations.
2.3.1. Document current translocation practices in south-eastern Queensland (eg. from Fisheries, fish management group, and hatchery records).
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   2.1       2.1
Operating   0.3       0.3
Total 0 2.4 0 0 0 2.4

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.3.2. Assess the likely impacts of current translocation practices on Mary River cod.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   2.2       2.2
Operating   0.3       0.3
Total 0 2.5 0 0 0 2.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.3.3. Formulate appropriate strategy for the protection of Mary River cod in consultation with stakeholders (eg. hatcheries, fish management groups, landholders), and provide recommendations to the Queensland Fisheries Management Authority for consideration by the Freshwater Management Advisory Committee.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   3.1       3.1
Operating   2.0       2.0
Total 0 5.1 0 0 0 5.1

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.4. Compile a database listing barriers to fish migration on south-eastern Queensland streams, assess the impacts of these on cod (from the results of research carried out in Action 4.1.), and ensure appropriate fishways are constructed on new barriers where required (and existing barriers, where possible).

In the meantime, the Recovery Team should formally inform the relevant authorities (Department of Natural Resources - Water Commercial) that they wish to seek a moratorium on the construction of new storage impoundments in the Mary River system until it can be demonstrated that these will not have an adverse impact on cod populations, or that fishways can be constructed that would alleviate any adverse impacts.

2.4.1. Interrogate Water Resources databases and consult with regional Water Resources officers to locate and describe existing barriers on south-eastern Queensland streams.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     5.4     5.4
Operating     0.8     0.8
Total 0 0 6.2 0 0 6.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.4.2. Assess the likely impacts of these barriers on cod using available information including data obtained from radio-tracking study.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     1.0     1.0
Operating     0.2     0.2
Total 0 0 1.2 0 0 1.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.4.3. Identify waterways where cod migration is necessary, ensure fishways are built on new barriers in these areas, and seek construction of fishways on existing barriers.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     5.4 3.0 3.0 11.4
Operating     1.7 0.7 0.7 3.1
Total 0 0 7.1 3.7 3.7 14.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.5. Develop guidelines for flow releases below impoundments to ensure maintenance of aquatic habitats for Mary River cod, and seek their implementation. [The timing of this action should be integrated with Water Resources timetable for the construction of proposed new impoundments on the Mary River.]
2.5.1. Facilitate the compilation of a resource document for the Mary River (including information on fish, invertebrates, hydrology, current water use, etc.), and provide specific information on Mary River cod. (Employ a biologist for three months, operating required to obtain information from relevant experts.)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   14.1       14.1
Operating   5.0       5.0
Total 0 19.1 0 0 0 19.1

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.5.2. Hold a three day workshop (including one day of field observation) involving relevant experts to identify key components of the hydrological cycle necessary for the protection of the riverine ecosystem, and produce a document summarising outcomes of the workshop. (Employ a biologist for one month - operating required to cover fees of relevant experts and production of document.)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   5.9       5.9
Operating   9.0       9.0
Total 0 14.9 0 0 0 14.9

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.5.3. Request early implementation of the Water Allocation Management Plan (WAMP) process in the Mary River, and contribute the information pertaining to cod into this process.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   1.5       1.5
Operating   0       0
Total 0 1.5 0 0 0 1.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.6. Establish appropriate linkages with existing studies on fluvial processes in the Mary River.
2.6.1. Identify existing projects/initiatives, etc, in the Mary River, and determine opportunities for linkages with these projects.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 7.0
Operating 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 4.0
Total 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 11.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

2.6.2. Develop joint projects and joint funding proposals where appropriate for projects relevant to the Recovery Plan.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 1.4 7.0
Operating 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 0.8 4.0
Total 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 11.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

Action 3. Develop and implement management procedures for the captive breeding and restocking of Mary River cod into suitable habitats.

Hatchery-bred Mary River cod have been stocked into impoundments in south-eastern Queensland to provide a recreational angling resource since 1983. Approximately 90% of the cod stocked in impoundments were produced at the local council-funded Lake Macdonald fish hatchery. Funding for this hatchery has recently been withdrawn by the Noosa Shire Council. As there are no private hatcheries currently producing Mary River cod in consistent numbers, it is a high priority to restore funding to the Lake Macdonald hatchery.

Investigations should be carried out to determine the optimum fingerling size for stocking, and to investigate the use of artificial breeding habitats to enhance breeding of cod in impoundments.

Stocking of cod in impoundments should continue for both recreational and conservation purposes, and a program of restocking in rivers should commence to restore or enhance riverine populations. As well as the Mary system, other rivers that historically contained populations of cod (ie. Brisbane-Stanley, Logan-Albert, and Coomera Rivers) should be considered for restocking. Criteria to assess the suitability of sites in the Mary River and elsewhere for restocking with cod are being developed (Table 5).

Short term actions

3.1.Develop and implement management plan for hatchery production of cod.
3.1.1. Convene a two-day workshop involving key experts (eg. biologists from interstate Fisheries agencies involved in breeding freshwater cod, geneticist, hatchery operators) to develop a management plan for hatchery production of Mary River cod. The management plan must address measures to ensure the long-term hatchery production of cod. (Prepare an agenda paper for consideration by QFMA's Freshwater Management Advisory Committee.)

Operating includes travel and accommodation costs for interstate experts.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.8         0.8
Operating 1.8         1.8
Total 2.6 0 0 0 0 2.6

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.1.2. Liaise with hatchery operators involved in Mary River cod production to ensure implementation of management plan, and review it's effectiveness.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.8 0.8       1.6
Operating 0.2 0.2       0.4
Total 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 2.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.1.3. Liaise with Noosa Shire Council, state Fisheries agency, and ANCA to reinstate funding to the Lake Macdonald hatchery.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 30.0 30.0 30.0 30.0 30.0 150.0
Operating 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 10.0 50.0
Total 40.0 40.0 40.0 40.0 40.0 200.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.1.4. Negotiate with relevant local and state authorities and hatchery operators to secure the long-term hatchery production of cod.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   2.0       2.0
Operating   0       0
Total 0 2.0 0 0 0 2.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.2.Develop and implement criteria for stocking cod for conservation and recreational purposes.
3.2.1. Develop criteria for restocking Mary River cod for conservation and recreation purposes based on existing criteria (eg. trout cod ) in consultation with relevant experts. (Prepare an agenda paper for consideration by QFMA's Freshwater Management Advisory Committee.)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.0         1.0
Operating 0.4         0.4
Total 1.4 0 0 0 0 1.4

Estimated cost ($000's)

Medium term actions

3.3. Develop and implement restocking and monitoring program for south-eastern Queensland streams, with priority being given to the Mary River.
3.3.1. Develop a strategic plan for the restocking of cod in south-eastern Queensland streams using criteria developed in Action 3.2. (Prepare an agenda paper for consideration by QFMA's Freshwater Management Advisory Committee.)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   1.3       1.3
Operating   0.2       0.2
Total 0 1.5 0 0 0 1.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.3.2. Undertake restocking according to strategic plan and availability of fingerlings. Monitoring to be undertaken as part of Action 6. (Operating includes purchase of cod fingerlings from hatcheries)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     1.0 1.0 1.0 3.0
Operating     20.5 20.5 20.5 61.5
Total 0 0 21.5 21.5 21.5 64.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.4. Develop and implement program for establishing breeding populations in impoundments for conservation purposes, and monitor the effectiveness of this program.
3.4.1. Develop program based on existing information on survival and breeding success of cod in impoundments where they have been stocked, and the results of research carried out in Action 4.2.4.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     1.4     1.4
Operating     0.8     0.8
Total 0 0 2.2 0 0 2.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.4.2. Implement program, and liaise with fish management groups to monitor it's success. (Operating includes purchase/construction of artificial spawning sites)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     16.9 16.9 16.9 50.7
Operating     11.0 11.0 4.0 26.0
Total 0 0 27.9 27.9 20.9

Estimated cost ($000's)

Action 4. Undertake research to increase knowledge of the biology and requirements of Mary River cod, and to improve techniques for their captive-breeding.

Many aspects of the biology and ecology of Mary River cod are poorly known. No detailed studies on wild fish have been undertaken, and most of the available knowledge is based on experience in hatcheries, or on anecdotal information supplied by anglers and land-owners. The study of Simpson (1994) provided details of the historic and present distribution of cod, and outlined the habitat types that apparently provide the basic requirements for cod habitation. More specific details of their habitat requirements for breeding and successful recruitment are not available. Juvenile cod have been notoriously difficult to catch in the wild, so little is known of their specific requirements for food, habitat, or movement.

Although techniques for the hatchery production of Mary River cod have been developed over a number of years, many aspects of the spawning and rearing process are still poorly understood. There appears to be considerable potential to 'fine-tune' hatchery techniques so that the quantity and quality of cod produced can be maintained at a consistently high level.

4.1. Use radio-tracking equipment to investigate the extent and timing of migratory and localised movements of Mary River cod, and thereby gain a better understanding of their habitat requirements.

There is anecdotal evidence that adult cod migrate upstream in early summer during high stream flows, but the extent, exact timing, and reasons for this supposed migration are not known. Many questions concerning the movements and habitat requirements of Murray cod in Victoria are being answered by a radio-tracking project, funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Commission. Radio-transmitters are surgically implanted in the fish, which can then be tracked by land, boat, or air. Invaluable information on Murray cod movements and habitat requirements at different times of the year and under different environmental conditions has already been acquired using this method. One of the main advantages of radio-tracking is that it provides a great deal of information from a relatively small number of fish. This would be of obvious benefit in studying an endangered fish like the Mary River cod, where minimal disturbance to populations is a desirable aim of any study.

4.1.1. Purchase radio-tracking equipment.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.7 0.3       1.0
Operating 20.3 4.2       24.5
Total 21.0 4.5 0 0 0 25.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.1.2. Undertake training in the implantation of transmitters in fish and the use of monitoring equipment.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0         0
Operating 1.1         1.1
Total 1.1 0 0 0 0 1.1

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.1.3. Implant radio-transmitters in ~5 individuals from each of the four known populations of Mary River cod in the Mary River system.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 9.0 6.0       15.0
Operating 5.7 1.4       7.1
Total 14.7 7.4 0 0 0 22.1

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.1.4. Monitor movements of tagged individuals at intervals over a period of two years using light aircraft and a light punt. Monitoring will be most intensive around the breeding season (June to October) and during the summer months when most movements are thought to occur.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 25.0 28.0       53.0
Operating 17.0 17.0       34.0
Total 42.0 45.0 0 0 0 87.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.1.5. Analyse data, and formulate appropriate habitat enhancement and protection measures based on results obtained.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 0.3 0.7       1.0
Operating 0.3 0.5       0.8
Total 0.6 1.2 0 0 0 1.8

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.2. Review existing procedures for hatchery production of Mary River cod, and carry out research into areas needing improvement.

Procedures for the captive-breeding of Mary River cod have been developed, however considerable losses of eggs and larvae still occur at times. Therefore, improved guidelines for captive-breeding need to be developed. In particular, investigations should be undertaken into broodstock conditioning and maintenance, management and handling of eggs, disease and parasite control in eggs and larvae, and larval nutrition.

An investigation into enhancement of breeding in impoundments using artificial spawning structures will also be undertaken.

4.2.1. Develop more effective broodstock management techniques, including the establishment of appropriate methods for marking individuals and recording broodstock history.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 7.5 7.5       15.0
Operating 4.0 3.0       7.0
Total 11.5 10.5 0 0 0 22.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.2.2. Develop egg management procedures to minimise fungal disease outbreaks.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 7.5 7.5       15.0
Operating 4.0 2.0       6.0
Total 11.5 9.5 0 0 0 21.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.2.3. Develop larval management procedures to minimise disease outbreaks in grow-out ponds.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 7.5 7.5       15.0
Operating 4.0 2.0       6.0
Total 11.5 9.5 0 0 0 21.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.2.4. Develop artificial spawning structures for use in impoundments, and assess their usage by resident Mary River cod.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 7.5 7.5       15.0
Operating 2.5 2.5       5.0
Total 10.0 10.0 0 0 0 20.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.3. Carry out mitochondrial DNA analyses of available Mary River cod to determine whether Murray cod genetic material is present, and to assess the genetic variability within and between known populations of Mary River cod.
4.3.1. Collect tissue samples from Mary River cod broodstock held in hatcheries, and from Museum and other scientific collections, and carry out genetic assays on these.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 5.0         5.0
Operating 5.5         5.5
Total 10.5 0 0 0 0 10.5

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.3.2. Provide ongoing support to hatcheries and to the Mary River cod monitoring program by genetically assessing new broodstock, and providing a basis for identification of re-caught hatchery progeny.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   3.2 3.2 3.2 3.2 12.8
Operating   3.0 3.0 3.0 3.0 12.0
Total 0 6.2 6.2 6.2 6.2 24.8

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.4. Investigate the swimming capabilities and appropriate fishway designs for Mary River cod.
4.4.1. Identify the timing and extent of movements by Mary River cod. (see Action 4.1).
4.4.2. Carry out appropriate trials to determine the swimming ability and behaviour of Mary River cod in experimental fishways if movement requirements are identified.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     36.0 36.0   72.0
Operating     70.5 20.5   91.0
Total 0 0 106.5 56.5 0 163.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

4.4.3. Ensure appropriate fishways are constructed on new barriers where required (and existing barriers, where possible).(see Action 2.3.)

Action 5. Develop and implement programs to rehabilitate riparian and instream habitats in the Mary River system, and other south-eastern Queensland streams targeted for restocking with cod.

Short term action

5.1. Develop a plan of action for the rehabilitation of instream and riparian habitats in south-eastern Queensland to provide suitable habitat for Mary River cod.
5.1.1. Identify areas in the Mary River, and other south-eastern Queensland streams, deemed to contain suitable habitats for cod. Develop a plan of action whereby habitat rehabilitation works would serve to expand and eventually connect these areas with each other. High priority for habitat rehabilitation works should initially be given to areas known to already support populations of cod.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.4         1.4
Operating 0.8         0.8
Total 2.2 0 0 0 0 2.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

5.1.2. Document existing information on habitat rehabilitation programs, and assess their significance and potential application to cod. Liaise with relevant Resource Management agencies and research organisations to identify opportunities for expanding existing habitat rehabilitation programs into key cod habitats
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.4         1.4
Operating 0.8         0.8
Total 2.2 0 0 0 0 2.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

Medium term actions

5.2. Implement pilot habitat rehabilitation programs in key areas of the Mary River in collaboration with local community and Land and Water Resources Research and Development Council (LWRRDC) Riparian Zone Program.
5.2.1. Investigate the feasibility and costing of instream habitat rehabilitation works by undertaking a small-scale project in the Mary River in collaboration with Bob Newbury (Newbury Hydraulics Ltd.)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 5.0         5.0
Operating 30.0         30.0
Total 35.0 0 0 0 0 35.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

5.2.2. Implement small-scale riparian rehabilitation works in the Mary River, and other south-eastern Queensland streams, in consultation and collaboration with the local community, Forestry, and LWRRDC. Existing riparian management projects should also be supported, to ensure that necessary medium/long-term monitoring of revegetated plots is carried out.

Early results from such projects have clearly demonstrated the adverse affects of livestock trampling on regeneration and establishment of seedlings, so flood-proof fencing to exclude stock from regeneration plots is considered a high priority. The development and implementation of a strategic plan to maintain riparian seed-source trees is also vital to the long-term success of revegetation projects and should be supported.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 35.0 70.0 35.0 35.0 35.0 210.0
Operating 19.0 29.0 24.0 24.0 24.0 120.0
Total 54.0 99.0 59.0 59.0 59.0 .0

Estimated cost ($000's)

5.2.3. Establish methodologies for monitoring the effectiveness of habitat rehabilitation works, and implement appropriate monitoring programs.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 4.0 14.0 14.0 14.0 14.0 60.0
Operating 0.8 8.0 8.0 8.0 8.0 32.8
Total 4.8 22.0 22.0 22.0 22.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

5.3. Implement large-scale rehabilitation program for riparian habitats in the Mary River catchment, and other south east Queensland streams, and monitor their effectiveness in enhancing cod habitat (monitoring should be coordinated with the monitoring program for cod - see Actions 3.3 and 6).
5.3.1. Staged implementation program for large-scale riparian rehabilitation works according to plan of action (see Action 5.1.1.).

Costing for this action will depend on the outcomes of a number of other actions. In particular, data on the areas targeted for rehabilitation, the severity of habitat degradation, and the outcomes of pilot schemes will be required to accurately determine costs. A report is currently being prepared by Queensland Department of Primary Industries (Forestry - Gympie) to provide cost analyses for riparian rehabilitation works in the Mary River catchment.

  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries  
Operating  
Total To be determined

Estimated cost ($000's)

5.4 Implement selected instream rehabilitation works on south-eastern Queensland streams where riparian rehabilitation has stabilised banks.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries     35.0 35.0 35.0 105.0
Operating     50.0 50.0 50.0 150.0
Total 0 0 85.0 85.0 85.0 155.0

Estimated cost ($000's)

Action 6. Develop and implement a long-term monitoring program for assessment of the status of Mary River cod.

6.1. Develop long-term monitoring program in consultation with relevant experts.
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries 1.4         1.4
Operating 0.8         0.8
Total 2.2 0 0 0 0 2.2

Estimated cost ($000's)

6.2. Implement long-term monitoring program (utilising standardised sampling methodology at a number of sites both within and outside current range of cod. Include replicates.) in key areas of the Mary River and other restocking sites. (Employ biologist and technician for four months each year - operating includes vehicle-hire costs and field allowances)
  Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
Salaries   44.0 44.0 44.0 44.0 176.0
Operating   10.8 10.8 10.8 10.8 43.2
Total 0 54.8 54.8 54.8 54.8

Estimated cost ($000's)

3.3.2. Summary of progress with recovery actions (August 1999)

Action 1. Community involvement / education

1.1. Hold a series of public forums to inform the public of the recovery process, seek their input in development of the recovery plan, and establish community links.

A public forum was convened by the Mary River Cod Recovery Team at Gympie on 28.2.95. Forty-seven community and government representatives attended, and a variety of views and opinions on the content of the draft Recovery Plan were put forward. The general response to the recommended measures was positive - the main point of conjecture related to prioritisation of actions. For example, some individuals saw breeding and restocking of cod as the single most important action, while others focused more on the need for habitat rehabilitation. The Recovery Plan was subsequently developed with high priority given to the concurrent implementation of a range of actions.

The forum was seen by the Recovery Team as a success in terms of establishing communication with the local community. This has subsequently been invaluable in aiding the implementation of various recovery actions.

1.2. Appoint a part-time officer to develop and coordinate a program of community education and involvement.

Funding from the Natural Heritage Trust was obtained in 1996 to employ a Mary River Cod Community Network Coordinator. The position is part time (3 days / week), and current funding carries the position through until July 2000. Activities of the officer to date have included:

  • production and distribution of a regular newsletter
  • holding information evenings in regional centres in the Mary River catchment
  • development of an activity program for schools
  • providing displays at rural shows and field days
  • liaison with Landcare and other community groups
  • establishing a network of community people interested in cod recovery

Action 2. Regulations and administrative procedures

2.1 Incorporate the options regulating the take of Mary River cod into QFMA's consultation process for the development of the Freshwater Fisheries Management Plan.

New regulations limiting the take of Mary River cod were brought in in 1998. A possession limit of zero now applies to Mary River cod in the Mary River system. Small sections of Tinana Creek, Coondoo Creek and Obi Obi Creek are now closed to all angling. A possession limit of one cod >50 cm length is still permitted in nine stocked impoundments outside the Mary River catchment.

2.2 Prepare a document listing all key cod habitats in the Mary River, and liaise with Resource Management authorities and landholders to ensure protection of these habitats.

While this exercise has not been formally undertaken, a considerable network of government officers and community people are now aware of key cod areas and requirements. Issues of concern are usually relayed to the Mary River Cod Recovery Team.

2.3 Evaluate current fish translocation practices in south-eastern Queensland in consultation with local angling clubs and fish management groups, and develop a strategy to minimise impacts on cod populations.

The Queensland Department of Primary Industries Fish Translocation Policy recognises the potential threat to endangered species of fish translocations, however, it does not specifically prohibit the release of golden and silver perch into the Mary River system. Fish stocking groups are encouraged to release Australian bass and Mary River cod in preference to non-native species.

2.4 Compile a database listing barriers to fish migration on south-eastern Queensland streams, assess the impacts of these on cod (from the results of research carried out in Action 4.1.), and ensure appropriate fishways are constructed on new barriers where required (and existing barriers, where possible).

In the meantime, the Recovery Team should formally inform the relevant authorities (Department of Natural Resources - Water Commercial) that they wish to seek a moratorium on the construction of new storage impoundments in the Mary River system until it can be demonstrated that these will not have an adverse impact on cod populations, or that fishways can be constructed that would alleviate any adverse impacts.

Applications to construct new barriers in south-eastern Queensland are now subject to assessment and approval by DPI Fisheries. The requirements of Mary River cod are given high consideration in carrying out these assessments.

2.5 Develop guidelines for flow releases below impoundments to ensure maintenance of aquatic habitats for Mary River cod, and seek their implementation. [The timing of this action should be integrated with Water Resources timetable for the construction of proposed new impoundments on the Mary River.

Specific guidelines for environmental flows to maintain habitats for Mary River cod have not been developed. However, DPI Fisheries provides input into the development of flow release regimes based on available information. The known requirements of the Mary River cod and other aquatic species are given high priority in these considerations.

Action 3. Captive breeding and restocking.

3.1 Develop and implement management plan for hatchery production of cod.

A Five-Year Strategic Plan for the production of Mary River cod at Lake Macdonald Hatchery (Cooroy) was produced in 1997. The plan includes recommendations for collaboration with other fish hatcheries. A steering committee including representatives from DPI and Noosa Shire Council oversee implementation of the plan. Daily operations of the hatchery are managed by the Noosa District Community Hatchery Association who report to the steering committee via quarterly meetings.

3.2 Develop and implement criteria for stocking cod for conservation and recreational purposes.

Criteria for the stocking of cod have been developed, partly based on criteria developed for trout cod in Victoria and New South Wales.

3.3 Develop and implement restocking and monitoring program for south-eastern Queensland streams, with priority being given to the Mary River.

In 1998, approximately 40 000 Mary River cod fingerlings were stocked in the Mary River system for conservation purposes, and in impoundments outside the Mary River for recreational purposes. A monitoring program is planned to commence in late 1999.

3.4 Develop and implement program for establishing breeding populations in impoundments for conservation purposes, and monitor the effectiveness of this program.

Only limited effort has been directed towards this action. Trials in 1998 involving the placement of artificial breeding structures in an impoundment were hampered by excessive growth of an exotic aquatic weed species.

Action 4. Research

4.1 Use radio-tracking equipment to investigate the extent and timing of migratory and localised movements of Mary River cod, and thereby gain a better understanding of their habitat requirements.

A radio-tracking study of Mary River cod commenced in 1997 with funding from Environment Australia and Queensland Department of Primary Industries. The study, due to finish in December 1999, has been very successful in identifying movement patterns and habitat utilisation by the cod.

4.2 Review existing procedures for hatchery production of Mary River cod, and carry out research into areas needing improvement.

Review and improvement of hatchery procedures is an ongoing process. The development of a Five-Year Strategic Plan for hatchery production of cod (see 3.1.) has helped to clarify the objectives and focus the activities of the breeding program. Some research into intensive rearing of cod fingerlings indoors has already been undertaken with very promising results. A combination of this method, and the more traditional outdoor pond rearing saw a record production of more than 40 000 cod fingerlings in the 1998 season.

4.3 Carry out mitochondrial DNA analyses of available Mary River cod to determine whether Murray cod genetic material is present, and to assess the genetic variability within and between known populations of Mary River cod.

This potentially expensive exercise has not been undertaken. Genetic management of wild and stocked cod populations has followed a conservative approach based on the advice of geneticists from Queensland Department of Primary Industries and interstate.

4.4 Investigate the swimming capabilities and appropriate fishway designs for Mary River cod.

This work has not been carried out, but results from the radio tracking study of Mary River cod have provided some information on the ability of cod to negotiate stream barriers under various flows. It is very likely that the vertical-slot fishway designs developed in New South Wales and Queensland will be suitable for cod.

Action 5. Habitat rehabilitation.

Stream habitat rehabilitation works are being undertaken on a number of fronts in the Mary River catchment. Various Landcare groups, local council-funded groups and Department of Natural Resources programs are implementing on-ground works, often using the Mary River cod as a focus.

A Mary River Cod Habitat Mapping and Extension Officer was employed in 1997 to develop a plan for the rehabilitation of cod habitats in the Mary River system. The project was recently (1998) extended to facilitate the implementation of on-ground works in identified priority areas. Part of this officers role is also to provide advice to land-owners on appropriate habitat rehabilitation methods.

Action 6. Monitoring program.

A dedicated monitoring program for cod has not been implemented.

It is planned to commence a monitoring program for stocked cod in parts of the Mary River system in late 1999. Cod fingerlings will be marked with subcutaneous VIE (Visual Implanted Elastomer) tags so they can be identified as hatchery-produced individuals. Monitoring will be carried out biannually at selected locations.

3.4 Implementation schedule

As indicated in the Recovery Objectives and Criteria (section 3.2.), it is anticipated that action will be required until at least 2010 to secure populations of Mary River cod. The following schedule estimates the costs for the first five years of this process (ie. 1996-2001). It is planned to fully review and update this implementation schedule in 2001.

Action Description Priority Feasibility Cost estimate
No.       Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
1
1.1.
Establish program of community involvement/education
Hold public forum to initiate community involvement
1 100% Funds already received from ANCA
1.2.
1.2.1.
Employ part-time person to develop education/extension program
Appoint part-time person
1 100% 1.55 0 0 0 0 1.55
1.2.2. Contact relevant stakeholders in the catchment 1 100% 10.33
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
10.33
1.2.3. Develop a 'Cod Recovery Network' 1 90% 7.95 4.2
 
2.0
 
0
 
0
 
14.15
1.2.4. Involve the Network in on-the-ground actions 1 90% 12.28 15.0
 
20.0
 
25.0
 
25.0
 
97.28
1.2.5. Move responsibility from Recovery Team to Network 1 90% 4.95 5.8
 
3.0
 
0
 
0
 
13.75
2
2.1.
Develop and implement regulatory and administrative actions
Include cod regulation options in QFMA Management Plan
2 100% 0.7 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0.7
2.2.
2.2.1.
Protect cod habitats
Document key cod habitats
2 80% 0.5 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0.5
2.2.2. Gazette key cod habitats 2 50% 0
 
3.0
13.2 8.9
 
14.7
 
39.8
2.2.3. Publicise habitat protection measures 2 100% 8.6 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
8.6
2.2.4. Monitor habitat protection measures 2 90% 0
 
1.6
1.6 1.6 1.6 6.4
2.3.
2.3.1.
Develop translocation strategy to minimise impacts on cod
Document current translocation practices in s.e. Qld.
2 100% 0
 
2.4
0
 
0
 
0
 
2.4
2.3.2. Assess likely impacts of current translocation practices on cod 2 50% 0
 
2.5
0
 
0
 
0
 
2.5
2.3.3. Formulate appropriate translocation strategy 2 90% 0
 
5.1
0
 
0
 
0
 
5.1
2.4.
2.4.1.
Finalise and implement procedures to maintain fish passage
Locate and describe existing barriers on s.e. Qld streams
2 100%  
0
 
 
0
 
 
6.2
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
6.2
2.4.2. Assess likely impacts of barriers on cod 2 80% 0
 
0
 
1.2
 
0
 
0
 
1.2
2.4.3. Ensure suitable fishways are built where required 2 80% 0
 
0
 
7.1
3.7 3.7 14.5
2.5.
2.5.1.
Develop and implement environmental flow guidelines for cod
Compile resource document for Mary River
2 90% 0
 
19.1
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
19.1
2.5.2. Hold a workshop to identify environmental flow requirements of cod 2 90% 0
 
14.9
0
 
0
 
0
 
14.9
2.5.3. Seek flow releases to meet cod's needs 2 80% 0
 
1.5
0
 
0
 
0
 
1.5
2.6.
2.6.1.
Establish linkages with existing studies in the Mary River
Identify existing studies, and determine opportunities for linkages
2 100% 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 11.0
2.6.2. Develop joint projects/proposals relevant to the cod Recovery Plan 2 90% 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 2.2 11.0
3
3.1.
3.1.1.
Develop and implement plan for captive-breeding and restocking
Develop and implement management plan for captive-breeding
Convene 2-day workshop to develop captive-breeding management plan
1 100%  
2.6
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
2.6
3.1.2. Liaise with hatchery operators to implement and review management plan 1 100% 1.0 1.0 0 0 0 2.0
3.1.3. Restore funding to Lake Macdonald hatchery 1 100% 40.0 40.0 40.0 40.0 40.0 200.0
3.1.4 Develop a plan to ensure the long-term security of hatchery production 1 80% 0
0
2.0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
2.0
0
3.2. Develop and implement stocking criteria for conservation/recreation 2 90% 1.4 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
1.4
3.3.
3.3.1.
Develop and implement stocking/monitoring program for cod in s.e Qld
Develop strategic plan for cod restocking using criteria in Action 3.2.
2 100% 0
 
1.5
0
 
0
 
0
 
1.5
3.3.2. Undertake restocking as per strategic plan (monitoring - see Action 2.7.2.) 2 80% 0
 
0
 
21.5
21.5 21.5 64.5
3.4.
3.4.1.
Develop and implement program to establish breeding populations in dams
Develop program based on existing data, and results from Action 4.2.4.
2 60% 0
 
0
 
2.2
0 0 2.2
3.4.2. Implement program, and liaise with fish management groups to monitor success 2 60% 0
 
0
 
27.9
27.9 20.9 76.7
Action Description Priority Feasibility Cost estimate
4
4.1.
4.1.1.
Research wild populations and captive-breeding techniques
Investigate movements and habitat requirements using radio-tracking
Purchase radio-tracking equipment
1 100%  
21.0
 
4.5
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
25.5
4.1.2. Undertake training in radio-tracking techniques 1 100% 1.1
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
1.1
4.1.3. Implant transmitters in cod from all areas of the Mary River 1 80% 14.7 7.4 0
 
0
 
0
 
22.1
4.1.4. Monitor movements of tagged cod for two years 1 90% 42.0 45.0 0
 
0
 
0
 
87.0
4.1.5. Formulate habitat protection/enhancement measures based on results 1 90% 0.6 1.2 0
 
0
 
0
 
1.8
4.2.
4.2.1.
Undertake research to improve captive-breeding success, and investigate artificial enhancement of breeding in dams
Develop improved broodstock management techniques
1 80%  
11.5
 
10.5
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
22.0
4.2.2. Develop improved egg management procedures 1 80% 11.5 9.5 0
 
0
 
0
 
21.0
4.2.3. Develop improved larval management procedures 1 80% 11.5 9.5 0
 
0
 
0
 
21.0
4.2.4. Develop artificial spawning structures for cod in impoundments, and assess their use by resident cod 2 60% 10.0 10.0 0
 
0
 
0
 
20.0
4.3
4.3.1.
Investigate genetic composition of available Mary River cod via mitochondrial DNA analysis
Carry out mitochondrial DNA analysis on hatchery broodstock and preserved cod specimens to determine whether Murray cod genetic material is present, and advise hatcheries accordingly
1 90%  
 
10.5
 
 
0
 
 
 
0
 
 
 
0
 
 
 
0
 
 
 
10.5
4.3.2. Carry out mitochondrial DNA analysis on new cod broodstock, and assist in the monitoring program (Action 2.7) by genetically typing hatchery progeny 1 90% 0
 
6.2
6.2 6.2 6.2 24.8
4.4.
4.4.1.
Investigate the potential for Mary River cod to utilise fishways
Identify the extent and timing of movements of Mary River cod
1 80% see Action 4.1
     
4.4.2. Investigate the swimming ability and behaviour of cod in fishways 2 75% 0
 
0
 
106.5
56.5 0
 
163.0
4.4.3 Ensure suitable fishways are built where required 2 80% see Action 2.4.3.
     
5
5.1.
5.1.1.
Restore Mary River cod habitats
Develop a strategic plan for restoration of cod habitats in s.e.Qld
Identify areas of suitable cod habitat, and develop a plan to expand and connect these
1 100%  
2.2
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
0
 
 
2.2
5.1.2. Investigate opportunities for collaborating with existing works 1 100% 2.2 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
2.2
5.2.
5.2.1.
Implement pilot habitat rehabilitation programs in key areas of the Mary R
Undertake small-scale instream rehabilitation works
1 100% 35.0 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
35.0
5.2.2. Implement small-scale riparian rehabilitation works 1 100% 54.0 99.0 59.0 59.0 59.0 330.0
5.2.3. Establish monitoring methodology for habitats, and implement monitoring 1 100% 4.8 22.0 22.0 22.0 22.0 92.8
5.3.
5.3.1.
Large-scale rehabilitation program for riparian habitats in S.E Qld streams
Staged implementation of riparian rehabilitation and monitoring as per Action 5.1.
1 60% To be determined
5.4. Implement rehabilitation program for instream habitats as per Action 5.1. 1 60% 0
 
0
 
85.0
85.0 85.0 255.0
6
6.1.
Develop and implement long-term monitoring program for cod
Develop monitoring program in consultation with experts
1 100% 2.2 0
 
0
 
0
 
0
 
2.2
6.2. Implement monitoring program in Mary River and other restocking sites 1 90% 0
 
54.8
54.8 54.8 54.8 219.2
Total cost 331.1 403.6 483.8 416.5 348.8 1993.8

3.5. Potential social and economic impacts of the recovery process

It is anticipated that the implementation of recovery actions will lead to long term social and economic benefits to residents of the Mary River catchment. These more than balance any perceived short-term adverse impacts.

Regulations

The imposition of strict regulations on recreational angling for Mary River cod will affect the activities of only a limited number of anglers. Recreational angling bodies including SUNFISH and the Australian National Sportfishing Association are in favour of the new regulations. There are still opportunities for anglers to catch and keep a Mary River cod in stocked impoundments outside the Mary River system, or to practice catch-and-release within the catchment. The extent of areas closed to all angling to protect cod populations is very small. Only three areas, with a combined stream length of approximately ten kilometres, are affected. Most of this is within State Forest, which already imposes controls on recreational angling under the Forestry Act 1959.

As the primary objective of this recovery plan is '…To secure and enhance populations of Mary River cod in the Mary River system…', it is anticipated that some of the recommended angling restrictions would be relaxed in the long term. The potential for recreational anglers to target and catch a cod will then be much better than at present.

Water Storage Impoundments

This recovery plan recommends '…that a moratorium should be placed on the construction of new water storage impoundments in the Mary River system until information is available to indicate the expected effect of these on cod…' (p. 38). Specific areas of concern are changes to water quality and flow regimes and the obstruction of fish passage. These factors are already subject to increasing scrutiny from resource managers and the wider community for their potential adverse impacts on stream biota and habitats in general. Management actions to ameliorate their adverse effects, including providing for environmental flow requirements and constructing fishways, may increase construction and operating costs of an impoundment. However, the potential long-term social and economic benefits of maintaining a healthy, intact environment far outweigh any short-term costs. Proactive management to circumvent problems of depleted fish populations, polluted or eutrophic water bodies and hazardous algal blooms will always be a better, and usually a cheaper, option than reactive management to try and fix the problem once it has become serious enough to attract political interest

Fish Translocations

This Recovery Plan recommends that there should be no '…further introduction of non-indigenous fish species into the Mary River system (including farm dams)…'(p.39). While the impacts on cod populations of previous fish introductions into the Mary River system are unknown, there are many examples in the scientific literature of such translocations leading to reduced abundance, and even extirpation, of resident species. The Queensland Department of Primary Industries Fish Translocation Policy allows for continued stocking of golden perch and silver perch in the Mary River system in line with past practice. While silver perch appear not to be very abundant, golden perch are relatively common (Simpson 1994) and may compete with Mary River cod for food and habitat. There is support from some recreational anglers for the continued stocking of golden and silver perch in impoundments in the Mary River system. A ban on further stocking of these species could be partly compensated by increased stocking of Mary River cod and Australian bass (both native to the Mary River system), but would draw opposition from some parts of the community.

Habitat Rehabilitation

The rehabilitation of instream and riparian habitats is often a costly and slow process. The types of rehabilitation that would benefit Mary River cod are in line with general stream and riparian works that are already being implemented and (in some cases) gaining community acceptance in the Mary catchment. These works are often carried out with funding from both government agencies and landholders. There may be opportunities to specifically target critical areas for Mary River cod with funding that is now, and will become, available.

Carrying out habitat rehabilitation works on private land will not become a legislated requirement - rather, the present system of landowners voluntarily seeking technical and funding assistance is expected to grow through the demonstration of successful projects. However, it is hoped that local council by-laws limiting the clearing of riparian vegetation become more widespread and better enforced so as to protect existing habitats.

While there are few, if any, anticipated adverse social or economic impacts of habitat rehabilitation actions, the potential for social and economic gains is significant. The benefits of good water quality, productive waterways, reduced levels of bank erosion (and therefore minimal loss of productive land area through erosion during floods) and a generally healthy, intact riverine ecosystem will be enjoyed by the whole community.

3.6. Termination criteria and management plan development

The Recovery Team has the responsibility of overseeing the implementation of this Recovery Plan. This role of the Recovery Team can cease when it is clear that the recovery actions are on track and will proceed without the teams further input. The following criteria will be used to assess the appropriate stage for the Recovery Team to cease meeting on a regular basis:

  • Cod Recovery Network established and operating effectively
  • Appropriate regulations in place to protect cod and their habitats
  • Administrative mechanisms in place to ensure that cod and their habitats are given high priority in management decisions of resource management agencies
  • Long-term captive-breeding program implemented, and restocking program established
  • Research program underway with ongoing commitment from relevant government agencies to seek appropriate funding
  • Large-scale habitat rehabilitation program underway with ongoing commitment from relevant government agencies
  • Long-term monitoring program implemented with ongoing commitment from relevant government agencies

There will be an ongoing commitment for the agency with the responsibility for the management of the Mary River cod to annually assess progress with the implementation of the Recovery Plan. If significant problems are detected, the agency should reconvene the Recovery Team for advice on overcoming these problems.