The project will involve researchers sampling the Moore Estuary, Swan-Canning River, Murray River, Walpole-Nornalup Inlet, Wilson Inlet, Wellstead Inlet and Culham Inlet to collect biological data on the black bream.
Project co-ordinator Dr Joel Williams said 4000 fish would be tagged in the Swan-Canning River and the Walpole-Nornalup Inlet so researchers could track their movements over time.
‘The black bream is an iconic species and very popular with recreational fishers, making it a cornerstone of tourism in estuaries throughout the State,’ he said.
‘Previous research has indicated that they may be highly susceptible to the effects of environmental change. My work in the eastern states has shown that black bream travel further up stream than in the past, probably in response to changes in the salinity regime brought about by reductions in freshwater discharge.
‘As freshwater discharge has declined markedly in south-western Australian in recent years, it is important to act now to gain an understanding of black bream’s current densities and growth, as well as their length and age at maturity in WA estuaries, so that we can inform protection of the species for future generations.
‘We want to ensure that we have a sound understanding of black bream biology and ecology so that people can enjoy fishing for this species for many years to come.’
Dr Williams said his team would visit angling associations throughout WA to share findings and look at getting locals involved in tagging.