Fisheries Research Articles

Population growth and mass mortality of an estuarine fish, Acanthopagrus butcheri, unlawfully introduced into an inland lake

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Publication Date


Journal Title

Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems


Print: 1052-7613 Electronic: 1099-0755


Acanthopagrus butcheri, translocation, stock enhancement, fish kill, salinity, Australia, Lake Indoon


Aquaculture and Fisheries | Marine Biology


1. In 2006, two periods of hypoxia resulted in the death of approximately 35 tonnes of black bream (Acanthopagrus butcheri) in Lake Indoon, a small inland lake in Western Australia. 2. Acanthopagrus butcheri was the first fish species to be recorded in this lake, along with the mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki) which was also observed during sampling in 2006. Acanthopagrus butcheri appears to have been introduced to Lake Indoon between 1998 and 2003 and formed a self-sustaining population. It is believed to have been deliberately introduced for the purpose of creating a recreational fishery, despite the existence of substantial penalties for illegal translocation of fish in Western Australia. 3. Recent human-induced environmental changes, including rising groundwater and salinization, have probably aided the establishment of both species in Lake Indoon. The importance of salinity to recruitment success by A. butcheri was indicated by the presence of only two age classes in 2006, with estimated recruitment dates coinciding with the years of highest recorded salinity in the lake. 4. The ‘fish kills’ provided an opportunity to examine aspects of A. butcheri biology in a relatively low salinity environment which is atypical for this estuarine species. In particular, the recruitment period in Lake Indoon was delayed until autumn/winter, rather than spring/summer as seen in other populations. Biological responses in Lake Indoon have implications for natural populations living in estuaries with modified salinity regimes. 5. The ecological, social and economic impacts potentially arising from the introduction of fish to Lake Indoon, which is an important migratory bird habitat and a recreational amenity for local residents and tourists, illustrate the complexities of fish translocation and the need for rigorous assessment before stocking to identify potential costs and benefits.



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