World Class Fishery for Kununurra

The prospect of a world-class impoundment fishery in the Kimberley is looming large, as reports of exciting Barramundi action on Lake Kununurra gather momentum.
What started out as a very challenging project for all involved, and especially the staff and students at Broome’s Kimberley Training Institute, appears to have been extremely successful in anecdotal reports are anything to go by.

There have been reports of numerous fish from 55-90cm being caught in recent months and even the odd trophy metre-plus fish. When the program was launched, it was hoped Lake Kununurra could eventually provide an impoundment barra fishery to match those on the east coast and that day appears closer than ever.

Photo courtesy of ABC Kimberley

The initial project, which has been strongly supported by Recfishwest and been funded by the Department of Fisheries as part of the Kimberley Science and Conservation Strategy, has now been completed and more than 550,000 fish have been restocked into the 55km-long dam. Notably, the project has been completed under-budget and ahead of schedule. The next step will be assessing the success of the project before considering further funding to continue the good work.

Locals in Kununurra say their boat ramp has never been as busy as in recent months, and Jeff Cooper from the KTI said it was encouraging that electrofishing earlier this year produced fish at every location tried along the entire length of the lake.  Two of the fish caught this way were over a metre in length, and he said the fish being caught were in prime condition, likely feeding mostly on bony herring and redclaw.

Jeff said the project had provided fantastic training for his students, who were involved in all aspects of the restocking.  He added that the project had benefitted from the collaboration between several government agencies.  The broodstock used to produce the fish for the Lake Kununurra stocking was caught from the Ord River.

With great community support and world-class science, not only are the rec fishers of the Kimberley benefiting, but Kununurra’s tourism industry just got an exciting boost.