Hatching a plan for more fish

By Country News

They say there’s always plenty more fish in the sea.

But it looks like there soon could be plenty more fish in the Goulburn Valley — or Shepparton, rather.

Victorian Agriculture Minister Jaala Pulford has pledged $7million towards a new native fish hatchery being established in Shepparton, should Labor be returned to government at next month’s state election.

The hatchery would serve to boost Victorian fish stocks with the region’s warmer climate hoped to allow the new hatchery to focus efforts on breeding ‘‘popular warm water native species such as Murray cod and golden perch’’.

It would guarantee fish stocking levels with native fish bred in Victoria, Ms Pulford said last week.

Ms Pulford said a new hatchery would create local jobs and mean ‘‘we can breed the fish we need right here in Victoria’’.

‘‘Our fishing industry is booming but Victoria is buying around four million fish a year from interstate suppliers to supplement the close to 1.7million fish bred at Victoria’s existing Snobs Creek hatchery each year,’’ Ms Pulford said.

She said the Victorian Fisheries Authority was examining ground water availability, land options and infrastructure needs for the proposed new hatchery in the Shepparton region.

In August, State Member for Shepparton Suzanna Sheed had urged the Victorian Government to consider a site in Tatura for a new hatchery.

At the time, she wrote to Ms Pulford proposing the Tatura Research Centre as an ideal site in line with an opportunity highlighted in a fishery management plan.

Ms Sheed highlighted last week the mooted Tatura facility as having ‘‘so many facilities and capacity’’ for such a project, but conceded there ‘‘might be a whole lot of logistical reasons why it has to be closer to the river’’.

‘‘I’m just very pleased it would land here in our region,’’ she said.

—Thomas Moir