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Busting Pest Fish

Busting Pest Fish

Pest fish and fishing competitions may seem like a mismatch. However, when it is an effective way of eradicating the “pests” from the waterways, while building awareness and cooperation among community members, the combination definitely creates excitement.

The fifth instalment of Tilapia Busters for 2018 was a success for Robina City Parklands. While being educational and awesome, it was also a good day of family fun. The goal of this event was to catch as much Mozambique tilapia (mouth brooder) as possible, and remove it from South and West Robina Lakes to increase the chances of survival of native fish species.

Mozambique tilapia are classified as restricted and noxious under the Biosecurity Act 2014. The fish is to be killed with a single blow to the head, and disposed of immediately by burying it away from the waterway or by placing it in a garbage bin. They are not to be used as bait as they pose an extensive threat to waterways, or taken home to eat. (Fact Sheet: Dept of Agriculture and Fisheries, 2018)

The Mozambique tilapia compete aggressively with native species, dominating aquatic systems and reducing fish diversity. They are a versatile and adaptable pest fish with high survival rates due to their ability to protect eggs and larvae from predators by holding them in their mouths. Also destroying native plant beds while nesting by creating large circular breeding nests. These pest species have been introduced into the waterway accidently and intentionally.

Robina Lakelands represents a total of 85 hectares with 20 km of shoreline in the middle of a high-density urban area, bounded by Markeri St, Bermuda St, Cottesloe Drive, and Robina Parkway. The lakes are non-tidal and water depths are at 3m and 10m, and is an artificially created freshwater aquatic ecosystem with many exotic and invasive species of vegetation, fish and turtles, which compete with native varieties.

For Tilapia Busters 5 event, the tilapia were given a biosecurity clearance and were permitted to be collected. Worms by the bucket load and tackle were also available on the day, supplied by The Bait Shop, while the local Lions Club kept everyone well fed with a free BBQ.

It was an early start on Saturday, 3 November, with keen competitors arriving in picturesque Robina Lakes, before 6am to finish at 12pm. For new and returning competitors, the word was out that West and South Lakes were brimming with tilapia. It was time to perfect the fishing technique and catch one. The informative and educational exhibitions included a live display by Gold Coast City Council and Biosecurity Queensland, showing the differences between native fish and exotic fish.

Tilapia Busters 5 was a family orientated event and attracted 310 competitors of all ages, with some travelling from as far as Redcliffe and Spring Hill. Fishermen, women, boys and girls were pulling the fish in from kayaks on the water and from the banks of South and West Lakes at Robina City Parklands using worms as bait, a single hook and float.

The atmosphere was exciting and fun as competitors showed up from 12 pm onwards, with catch in hand to join the queue for weigh-in. The winner for Men’s Division was Dale Lucas with a total fish weigh-in of 25.56kg; Women’s Division winner was Tanya Harris with a total fish weigh-in of 7.82kg; Junior Boys winner was Daniel Gould with a weigh in of 14.25kg; and Junior Girls division winner is Katlyn Mcadam with a weigh-in of 7.85kg. All competitors’ efforts quantified a total weigh-in of 705kg of Mozambique tilapia, which were safely removed from Robina Lakes, dispatched on site and disposed of by Gold Coast City Council. The quality prizes are donated by various sponsors and included Jungle lures, prize packs from Rod Armour, Bigwig beef jerky, vouchers, Master Angler tackle gear, Rodzilla rods and stubby coolers, Trickys Lures, Munroe’s Soft Plastics, My Lure DVDs, Dream Kayak hats. Major sponsor Dragon Kayak, added to the excitement with a random drawn prize of a 2.8m pro fisher kayak.

While there were plenty of winners on the event day, Robina is the real winner. Tilapia Busters 5 represents the fifth fishing tournament held to reduce tilapia numbers in south and west lakes of Robina City Parklands. These consistent efforts will assist a native fish population to become established and reduce pest species resulting in a more balanced aquatic ecosystem. In three years, Robina will reap the rewards with an established native fish population and adult native bass jumping out of their suburban lakes. The event was such a success that competitors were excited and looking forward to the next instalment of Tilapia Busters.

The Tilapia Busters was organised by Gold Coast Fishing Fanatics and was co hosted by My Catch Australia. It was supported by the Gold Coast City Council. In order with their strong vision of protecting Gold Coast natural environments, the Council released 40,000 Bass fingerlings into the lake system to boost native fish numbers.

 

By Selena Nelson

 

 

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