Filling the Peel-Harvey Estuary to the bream with the important fish species

Imagine helping boost the stocks of an iconic fish species in one of our very important estuaries while still at school?

Well, students at one Mandurah secondary college are doing exactly that as part of an initiative supported by Recfishwest.

John Tonkin College (JTC) students are spending their time in the classroom, and also out of it, working to ensure black bream stocks in the Peel-Harvey Estuary remain abundant for many years to come.

WATCH: Check out this great little video about the initiative – The Black Bream Project!

Led by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council alongside Murdoch University and JTC, Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said the program was working to increase stewardship of our estuaries and teach kids that healthy rivers lead to healthy bream stocks.

“Wild black bream were caught from the Murray River, which is part of the Peel-Harvey catchment, to be used as broodstock as part of the project,” he said.

“The fish are spawned in tanks at Murdoch University, then are grown out to 3cm juveniles by the students at John Tonkin College before being released.

“This gives the students the opportunity to become ‘aquaculturists’, helping maintain the tanks, feed and grow the black bream before the fish are released into the Murray River – how good is that!?”

WATCH: Check out this quick video of JTC students releasing baby black bream into the Murray River

In the video, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council Science Adviser Dr Steve Fisher said:

Black bream are an important fish species for many recfishers. Picture: Eligh Quigley

“It’s really important scientifically that we really try and bolster the stock of the bream through doing this stock enhancement,” he said.

“But the major part of the project is getting that community engagement and buy-in, bringing the community along for the ride, so they can understand how important it is to maintain the river in a good state for fish.”

Hands-on learning to protect black bream

As the video shows, the project has given John Tonkin College students a hands-on learning opportunity in a field which is going to have increasing importance in securing abundant fish stocks and the great fishing experiences they provide in the future.

Dr Rowland said the popular course was helping students develop a close connection to the Peel-Harvey Estuary and its black bream, while harnessing more of an understanding of our important estuary systems.

“I wish there was a program like this when I was at school and, who knows, while this program is nurturing black bream stocks, maybe it is also nurturing WA’s future fisheries scientist, researchers and fishers,” he said.