Hatchery and Fishery Manager, Thomas Hayes, loves his job and knowing he is making a difference. Photo: Campbell Gellie/The Observer
Hatchery and Fishery Manager, Thomas Hayes, loves his job and knowing he is making a difference. Photo: Campbell Gellie/The Observer Rosie O'Brien

Thomas feeds fish we catch

WHEN Thomas Hayes gets to work he has hundreds of wide-open mouths to feed.

As the hatchery and fishery manager for the Gladstone Area Water Board he arrives at the headquarters along Auckland Creek early in the morning to feed barramundi, mangrove jack and sea mullet.

He said working closely with fish allowed him to see the personalities of the brooding stock.

"They form their own little groups," he said.

"There will be the bully and dominant fish."

The brooding stocks are quite large and are injected with hormones to make them spawn.

Mr Hayes said they only use wild-caught brood stock that they catch themselves.

"The barramundi can spawn for three nights in a row," he said.

"The most active spawn sit on the surface and we just siphon them off."

The Gladstone hatchery is one of five in Australia of its kind.

"The purpose of our hatchery is to restock the Awoonga Dam with fish that once swam upstream before it was dammed," he said.

"We also sell our fingerlings on to the commercial market and we are known for a quality product."

The barramundi spawn start to grow when they are fed phytoplankton, then zooplankton and will double in size in two weeks.

"We have lots of different tanks and the aim is to have the water as clean as possible," he said. "You never want to touch the water because you may cross-contaminate them with allergies."

Once the barramundi grow to 50mm they are known as fingerlings and are ready to be released into the Awoonga Dam.

Mr Hayes said it was good to work on the positive side of food creation.

"Hatcheries and commercial fishing farms are not as popular in Australia as they are in other parts of the world," he said. "It's great to be working in an industry where I can create a quality produce to add to the environment."

campbell.gellie@

gladstoneobserver.com.au



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