FISH LOOK FOR A SEA CHANGE AT MERIMBULA

Photos courtesy of NSW DPI

The waters of Merimbula Lake are expected to fill up, with more finned tenants due to check out the NSW South Coast’s newest underwater development.

Installation of the State’s fifth artificial reef, located in the depths of Merimbula Lake, and measuring approximately 1600 square metres, is complete.

“This latest addition to the State’s underwater housing portfolio will provide enhanced recreational fishing experiences for keen anglers,” NSW DPI Artificial Reef Program manager Marcus Gregson said.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) fisheries officers have spent the past few weeks at Merimbula, carefully overseeing the placement of 400 Reef Balls, patented modules constructed of modified concrete aggregate, which encourages colonisation by marine plants and animals.

“We’ve been diving to inspect the reef and there are some curious fish around who have already swum in for a look. But we aren’t expecting to see large numbers of resident fish for 6-18 months,” Mr Gregson said.

“This is due to the current cold temperature of the lake, and the time it will take for the Reef Balls to resemble a natural reef.
“We are expecting many species of recreationally important fish to inhabit the artificial reef, including bream, tarwhine, flathead and leatherjacket.

“Transient species such as tailor may also be found on the reefs from time to time.”

Reefs are deployed in areas lacking reef habitat, providing places for fish to live and shelter.

The largest Reef Balls are around 1.2 metres wide, 0.9 metres high and weigh up to 1000 kilograms.

Reef Balls in three size combinations were used to create a complex habitat for fish, algae and invertebrates.

“The NSW DPI will begin a quarterly monitoring program of the Merimbula Lake artificial reef in August, using baited underwater video, photographic surveys and diver census,” Mr Gregson said.

“Photographs of the sea bed and the Reef Balls will also be taken, looking at the succession of algae on the reefs and the presence of encrusting invertebrates.
“Our other reefs in Lake Conjola, Lake Macquarie, Botany Bay and St Georges Basin have created habitat for a high diversity and abundance of recreationally important species, and we are expecting similar results at Merimbula Lake.

“The Government, through the NSW DPI has worked closely with researchers, fishers, community groups and other regulatory bodies to ensure the reef is in the ideal location to maximise its effectiveness.

“The reefs are part of a five year fisheries enhancement program by the NSW State Government.

“Artificial reefs are funded by the NSW Saltwater Fishing Trust, and are a great example of recreational fishing license fees being put back into the water, to improve recreational fishing in NSW.”

For more information on artificial reefs visit:
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/recreational/saltwater/artificial-reefs