Mainland yabbies recovered at Great Lake
by Sarah Graham IFS
Inland Fisheries Service inspectors recovered a number of yabbies believed to be the mainland Cherax species, along with some mussels and foreign weed, from the edge of Great Lake on Thursday 27 August.
Inland Fisheries inspectors reacted quickly to decontaminate the site, removing the pests and preventing their possible introduction to the Lake. Some interstate anglers were interviewed and investigations into the incident are continuing.
Inland Fisheries Service inspectors recovered a number of yabbies believed to be the mainland Cherax species from the edge of Great Lake on Thursday 27 August.
Some mussels and an amount of weed were also found at the same spot. It's possible that the yabbies and mussels were intended to be used as fishing bait but had been discarded on the Lake shore the previous day.
A few of the yabbies were still alive when the discovery was made. Inspectors took immediate action to ensure that the area was de-contaminated and follow up checks have indicated that no pest species survived or spread.
A group of visiting interstate anglers was interviewed regarding the pest introduction incident, and the investigation is continuing with the aim of prosecution.
It is a serious offence with penalties up to $12,000 for a person to be in possession of pest species such as yabbies or be responsible for their release into an inland waterway in Tasmania.
Mainland yabbies are classified as Controlled Fish under the Inland Fisheries Act 1995, having the potential to cause significant environmental harm. It is also illegal under Quarantine regulations to bring live or dead fish, fish products, animals or aquatic plants into Tasmania without the proper authority.
The Service is hopeful of achieving a successful conviction in this case as a deterrent to anyone considering transferring fish between waterways. Most importantly, it might help stop the introduction and spread of pests in Tasmania.
European carp, for example, are believed to have been introduced to lakes Sorell and Crescent by bait fishers nearly twenty years ago, leading to the decline of two of Tasmania's premier fisheries.
The financial and environmental costs of introduced pests is significant, both in terms of the funding required to respond to the problem as well as the long term impact on the freshwater ecology.
Thankfully in this particular case, fisheries inspectors were able to respond quickly and prevent the spread of these pests to Great Lake.
It's a good reminder to responsible anglers to help take care of the fishery by reporting any suspicious or illegal activity such as this to the Service immediately.