THE NSW government is planning to release endangered Trout Cod in NSW for recreational fishers to catch.
Trout Cod is an endangered species that had all but disappeared from inland fresh water streams before NSW Fisheries initiated a conservation strategy in 2009 to raise and release young fish (fingerlings) into some of the species' former habitat.
Kevin Evans, CEO of the National Parks Association of NSW, said, "It is beyond belief that the government is now proposing to release fingerlings specifically bred to save the species from extinction as a resource for fishers. This is particularly ironic given that recreational fishing has been identified as a threat in the Trout Cod Recovery Plan.
"This proposal suggests that anglers may ultimately be permitted to take home and eat this endangered species.
"The government's own fisheries scientific committee has strongly criticised this proposal. They have clearly stated that all of the fingerlings that are currently being bred are needed for conservation releases in the wild, and shouldn't be squandered on creating artificial populations for recreational fishers. Conservation stocking efforts still require significant refinement and ongoing work if they are to re-establish genetically viable populations of Trout Cod in NSW.
"To top it off, the committee has also pointed out that the dams where releases are planned will be poor habitat for Trout Cod anyway.
"The Central Acclimatisation Society, a recreational fishing group that has been closely involved with the conservation stocking program, has deep misgivings about this proposal for recreational stocking. We support their view that the underlying concept is completely flawed.
"This is the same sort of broken logic that has seen this government arguing that hunting, logging and grazing will benefit the environment, despite strong evidence to the contrary.
"Unfortunately, as we have seen with government decision making in our oceans and national parks, the honest use of science comes second to placating the desires of recreational and industry lobby groups at the expense of the environment.
"Endangered animals, including the Trout Cod, need all the help they can get. This proposal for large scale stocking of impoundments with Trout Cod is a wasteful distraction from the real task of protecting this species," he concluded.