Harry Butler Institute

Filling the Murray River to the bream

Murdoch researchers and recreational anglers, Dr Alan Cottingham and Dr Ben Roennfeldt, are on a mission to ensure a viable future for the Murray River black bream population after research found falling numbers of the fish

A collaboration between the Harry Butler Institute, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council and John Tonkin College found a way to support the ongoing survival and viability of the black bream fishery.


Areas of research

Aquaculture, Fisheries, Conservation

Technology utilised

Bream Culture Systems

Lead researchers

Dr Alan Cottingham,  Dr Ben Roennfeldt


What was the need for this project?

Black bream in the Peel-Harvey Estuary are a key recreational fish species for the Mandurah community of Western Australia.

When an analysis of the fishery by Dr Cottingham and his team found they were both old and appearing in very low numbers, something had to be done.


How the project was completed

A plan was hatched and developed to catch wild black bream broodstock from the Murray River, breed them at Murdoch University, raise the juveniles at the school as part of their science program, then release approximately 5000, five-centimetre bream back into the river.

Aquaculture lecturer Dr Ben Roennfeldt designed and constructed the bream culture systems at Murdoch University and John Tonkin College with the assistance of other staff and the students.


Results and achievements for this project

The bream spawned successfully in early spring and 1700 juveniles were transported to John Tonkin College and raised by eager students pre-trained in live food production, fish care and culture system maintenance.

The remaining 1700 juveniles were retained and grown at Murdoch until their release ‘back home’, along with the John Tonkin College fish.

Tissue samples were also obtained from fish to enable a population-genetics study by Dr Jennie Chaplin at Murdoch University, the results of which will inform future breeding programs.


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