BARRAMUNDI will be stocked in Victoria for the first time with the first batch of 1600 barramundi released into Hazelwood Pondage, Gippsland, today. This is another significant milestone for the Andrews Labor Government in delivering its Target One Million plan to grow recreational fishing. The release is a key step in the development of this new fishery, following successful tank-based acclimatisation trials which indicated the species could survive in pondage water. Barramundi are usually only found in northern Australia, however the unusually warm water in the pondage may provideVictorian anglers with the chance to cast a line for the iconic species much closer to home. Three size classes of barramundi were released today, consisting of 1000 fingerlings at 5cm, 500 fish at 10cm and 100 larger barramundi measuring 30cm. Fifteen of the larger fish carry acoustic tags to track their movements so more can be learned about their behaviour and preferred habitats. Several listening stations have been positioned throughout the pondage and will monitor tagged fish movements and log water temperatures. To optimise the stocking trial and fish movement investigation, the pondage will be closed to all recreational fishing for six months. This will allow barramundi growth rates, diet composition, flesh quality and aggregation patterns to be studied without active fishing pressure. Fisheries Victoria, recreational anglers and other project partner organisations that comprise the Barramundi Working Group will then consider the results of the stocking trial and, pending the results, progress plans to formally open the fishery in consultation with other recreational users. Boosting participation in recreational fishing is the primary aim of the Labor Government’s Target One Million plan, which aims to increase angler numbers to one million by 2020 and get more people fishing, more often.