The Tilapia Control Programme was part of a wider initiative to prevent the spread of tilapia from the wet tropics into the Pioneer and Fitzroy Basin catchments as well as southern Great Barrier Reef catchments and potentially the Murray-Darling Basin.

Tilapia (Oreochromus massambicus) are listed in the world’s 100 worst invasive species and are one of the greatest threats to Australia’s native aquatic biodiversity. They compete with native fish for food and habitat, reducing native fish populations. Tilapia reduce water quality by uprooting and consuming large quantities of native aquatic plants. This increases sediment in waterways and reduces the capacity of wetlands and waterways to filter and remove pollutants. The project was part of a collaboration of Natural Resource Management groups facilitating on ground activities to prevent the spread of tilapia.

Tilapia populations were confirmed in the Gooseponds in 2014. During 2015-16 the Gooseponds predator control project and the Gooseponds fish hotel projects were completed. The aim of the predator control project was to trial the use of native predators to control tilapia populations in an open wetland system. Stocked barramundi were introduced into the Goosepond wetland to increase the number of predatory fish that may potentially feed on tilapia. In June 2014 and September 2015 barramundi fingerlings were released into the Gooseponds. This was conducted in conjunction with a childrens fishing and community field day to help raise awareness of tilapia in the region. The project did find direct evidence that barramundi (Lates calcarifer) preyed on tilapia, however the level of predation was insufficient to reduce tilapia numbers within the Gooseponds lagoons complex. Future management actions need to focus on habitat rehabilitation to improve resource availability and increase the capacity of our natives to compete with these unwanted pests.

Following on from the predatory trial, the Gooseponds fish hotel project aimed at improving habitat diversity within the lagoons. The fish hotels increase the complexity of diversity of habitat in the lagoon, encouraging native species to reside in the wetland area. During April 2016 ten fish hotels were constructed using rosewood posts and cement base plates, and installed in June 2016. The project will contribute to stronger and healthier ecosystems in the Gooseponds into the future.

Details of achievements in 2015-2016:
• Completion of Gooseponds fish hotels project, ten fish hotels installed
• Completion of Gooseponds predatory control project – native tilapia predator barramundi released
• Two workshops to train the trainer
• Highly successful tilapia education community field day and barramundi tag and release,attracting an estimated total of 250 people in attendance

Over the programme’s completion (2013 – 16), achievements included:
• Identification and mapping of tilapia populations
• Twenty information signs, increasing community awareness of tilapia
• Grosvenor Creek weed control project, three tiered salvinia control
• Eradication of jag cichlid (Parachromis managuensis), a close relative of tilapia, in the lower Pioneer
• 5 workshops – management implementation and train the trainer
• 4 field days – promoting community engagement and education

The project wrapped up in June 2016. Ongoing investment into the management of tilapia in the region is essential to ensure healthy waterways into the future.

Monitoring Organisation Reef Catchments

Name Katrina Dent

Phone 4968 4207


Position in organisation General Manager

Activity Type waterway projects (e.g. fish ladder installation, aquatic weed removal)

Activity Indicators water quality in freshwater river basins

Activity location Pioneer catchment

Frequency of monitoring

Monitoring Start Date 01/07/2016


Location of monitoring data

Date quality / confidence

Website URL

Collaborators Mackay Regional Council, Mackay Recreational Fishers Alliance Inc, Mackay Area Fish Stocking Alliance, Australian Government

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