ILWS - Charles Sturt University
ILWS - Charles Sturt University

Fishing for answers: unlocking the secrets of spawning and recruitment for Murray-Darling recreational species (2016-2020)


Recreational Fishing Trust, NSW Department of Primary Industries, $100,000


Dr Lee Baumgartner, Dr Katie Doyle, Dr Luiz Silva and Dr Jason Thiem (Adjunct); Dr Brenton Zampatti (SARDI Aquatic Sciences); Gavin Butler (NSW DPI Fisheries).

Research Theme (s)

Environmental Water and Biodiversity Conservation


Golden perchManagement of freshwater fish populations at relevant scales requires knowledge of fish life histories and population dynamics. In large and complex river systems such as the Murray-Darling Basin, specific regions may act as sources and sinks of particular life stages. Fundamental to effective management is an understanding of the sources or early life stages and subsequent growth and dispersal.

It has been previously assumed that fish spawn everywhere and that each river equally contributes to recruitment at a basin scale. But researchers are learning that this is not the case. Fish are spawning in specific rivers and then these fish move to other areas later in life.

This project aims to increase our understanding of spawning and recruitment of native species in the Basin, specifically golden perch, by identifying and mapping their spawning and recruitment zones.

The researchers hope to answer four specific research questions:

  • Does each river in the Murray-Darling contain specific water chemistry?
  • What catchments contribute most to basin-scale populations of recreational species?
  • Are different catchments equally important in each year?
  • Are populations in different catchments dominated by fish that spawn in particular years?


The findings from this project are expected to have direct benefits to recreational fishing and are expected to lead to the development of management policies that will protect, and where possible, enhance key habitats; management activities that will lead to a natural increase in native fish numbers; and a more strategic approach to fish stocking across the Basin.


Dr Lee Baumgartner


Dr Luiz Silva Email

Albury-Wodonga Campus

October 2017