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Fishing for Facts!

23 February, 2017

An exciting new project is being undertaken in the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands to better understand how fish move through the fish gates on the Vasse surge barrier.

The project, being undertaken by Murdoch University plans to tag up to 500 black bream, mullet and other species over a two year period with passive integrated transponder tags, or PIT tags.

With assistance from the Water Corporation, antenna have been installed at both ends of the fish gate on the Vasse surge barrier to detect tagged fish as they move through.

Dr Steve Beatty from Murdoch who is leading the research, said “We will be able to determine the time and direction of passage of any tagged fish which will be highly valuable in improving our understanding of how fish use the gate”.

“The PIT tags are inexpensive, small and relatively easy to implant into the fish so we will be able to tag a lot more fish than we have in previous studies using acoustic tags”.

Results from the research will be used to review and update the operations of the Vasse surge barrier.

Opening the fish gates to allow fish to move through the surge barrier into the Wonnerup Inlet is one of the options currently used by managers to reduce the risk of fish kills during periods of poor water quality.

“Results from this research will be invaluable to managers of the wetlands” said Steve. “Watercorp have been great in helping us with installation of the equipment and are really interested in the project”.

Students from Busselton Senior High School and Georgiana Molloy Anglican School are helping catch fish to be tagged on the 2nd of March and Community members and fishing enthusiasts are encouraged to come along to help on the 3rd of March.

“The Community Fishing Day (on Friday 3 March) will be fun, and really interesting. This is a great project where the community can get involved, help scientists and learn more about this unique wetland system.” said Sonia Lamond, GeoCatch Communication Officer.

If you would like to participate in this project, please contact GeoCatch via email or phone (08) 9781 0111.


The Vasse Surge Barrier fish gates have been fitted with state of the art passive integrated transponder (PIT) tag sensing antenna.