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Author Topic: Stopping the spread of tilapia into the Murray Darling Basin  (Read 4019 times)

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Stopping the spread of tilapia into the Murray Darling Basin
18 May 2012 - NSW DPI

NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) is advising anyone who catches or finds tilapia - one of the world’s worst invasive fish species - to humanely destroy and dispose of it appropriately.

NSW DPI aquatic biosecurity officer, Debra Doolan, said although tilapia are not known to be in NSW waters or in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) river system at this stage, educating people is key to keeping them out.

“The highest risk for transporting tilapia into the MDB is via humans carrying live fish or eggs,” Ms Doolan said. 

“If people catch or find a tilapia, it is vital that the fish is not returned to the water.

“In any case of uncertainty about identification, we recommend taking a good quality photo then calling us immediately for confirmation.”

Ms Doolan says that the fish are particularly threatening because they are such successful breeders.

“Mothers produce up to 1200 eggs a year and protect their young fry in their mouths for up to 14 days before releasing them,” she said. 

“This technique, known as “mouth brooding”, ensures that even if the mother is not living, any eggs in the mouth have the potential to survive.

“Tilapia exist in catchments in south-east Queensland and they have been recorded in unconnected waterways as close as three kilometres from the MDB.

“Luckily, physical catchment boundaries, including the Great Dividing Range, restrict the threat of natural spread to the Basin.” 

NSW DPI’s aquatic biosecurity unit and the Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation have been collaborating over the past 18 months supported by funds from the MDB Authority to prevent tilapia from entering the Basin.

Educational programs and materials include pamphlets, fact sheets, posters and targeted workshops. 

Read more in this month’s edition of Agriculture Today at

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