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Invasive fish could threaten Boyne and Calliope rivers

INVASIVE THREAT: One of the world's most invasive fish species, the tilapia, could be on the way towards Gladstone.
INVASIVE THREAT: One of the world's most invasive fish species, the tilapia, could be on the way towards Gladstone.

GLADSTONE'S fish are not in danger yet, but if tilapia get into the system, a valuable asset could be under threat.

The fish is rated among the top 100 most invasive species in the world and the Fitzroy Basin Association has put Gladstone region on "tilapia alert" after flooding from ex-Tropical Cyclone Debbie in March this year.

Senior project officer, Shannon van Nunen said the FBA knew tilapia were in parts of the Fitzroy River catchment.

"Recent flooding could have allowed them to migrate either towards the coast, and that includes down towards the Calliope and Boyne River systems, as well as up towards the Capricorn Coast/Yeppoon area," he said.

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"They call them the cane toads of the waterway.

"They can survive in cool, very hot, poor water quality, good water quality, deep, shallow, salt and fresh, so they can really do just about everything."

"It's good to for the FBA to communicate to the broader public to pay close attention to their waterways following the recent flooding just in case they've gone into new areas."

The FBA is aware tilapia are already in the systems around Raglan and 12 Mile Creek near Bajool.

DANGER: Gladstone is part of a 'tilapia alert' issued by the Fitzroy Basin Association.
DANGER: Gladstone is part of a 'tilapia alert' issued by the Fitzroy Basin Association. Adam Wratten

"It's important for people to ID and report - early detection gives us better management options and it gives us options to actually do something," Mr van Nunen said.

It is illegal in Queensland to keep or release tilapia.

The most appropriate method of humanely destroying the fish, endorsed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, is a sharp blow to the back of the head, above the eyes.

The carcass must then be binned or buried above tidal influences, at least 50m from the waters edge.

Mr van Nunen said when the feral fish got into any systems they were "prolific breeders" and would eat almost anything.

Topics:  ex-tropical cyclone debbie fitzroy river catchment tilapia



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