Cod could be a fish out of water if Needles Gap Dam gets green light

THE proposed 90,000 megalitre dam at Needles Gap will wipe out recovering Murray cod populations in the Belubula River, according to the Central Acclimatisation Society.

The state government announced $1 million in funding for a feasibility study into the dam as part of last week’s budget. 

The society, which represents anglers from the Blue Mountains through to Bathurst, Mudgee and Canowindra, believes the recovering population of the vulnerable fish species, which lives in the lower parts of the Belubula River, will be wiped out. 

Society secretary Don Barton said the group was opposed to the dam and would submit very “robust” submissions once the feasibility study was concluded, in about two years. 

“The river will degrade and the flows will have to be adjusted to suit the fish,” he said. 

Murray cod were once abundant throughout the Murray-Darling river system, but overfishing and environmental changes have drastically reduced its numbers.

Mr Barton said the proposed dam would stop the fish from moving up and down the river to breed.

Usually the overflow of dams was much colder than the natural temperature of the river water, and the native fish could not survive in cooler temperatures, Mr Barton said. 

Their breeding cycle would be further affected by the flows of the river, should a dam go ahead. Higher water levels might trigger the fish to release eggs when it should not and different flows may wash eggs away, he said. 

However, Mr Barton said he was not overly concerned about the project because he was sceptical it would ever be built.

“I wonder whether it is even viable,” he said. 

“We’re quietly confident the maths won’t add up.”


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