With more than 2,000 juvenile black bream being released into the Murray River last year through PHCC’s Stock Enhancement of Black Bream project, it was great to see local community group Peel Bright Minds showcase this exciting project for this year’s National Science Week.

Black bream born in the Peel-Harvey Estuary system, including the Murray River, are entirely dependent on the estuary to provide suitable habitat including water quality and food throughout their life cycle from birth to death.  They are therefore exposed throughout their lives to environmental threats and because their stocks are only replenished from within the estuary, events such as fish kills can have a serious impact on the fish population. This project aims to enhance the stocks of black bream by protecting the fish from these threats in their early life stages through an aquaculture program run by students and teachers from John Tonkin College and overseen by scientists from Murdoch University and PHCC.

Peel Bright Minds aims to ‘inspire a curious community’ through a culture of lifelong learning in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). With the black bream project based on the biology of black bream, National Science Week was a great opportunity to showcase the role of science in helping to enhance the population of black bream in the Peel-Harvey.

The event, hosted by Peel Bright Minds in August was attended by more than 60 people. It brought together community members, government representatives, stakeholders, students and teachers. The event began with PHCC’s very own Dr Steve Fisher setting the scene by describing the threats to the stocks of this iconic native fish species, how we can tell how old a black bream is by examining stones called otoliths in the fish’s head and therefore determine the age structure of the stock, and how the project contributes to the greater goal of helping to protect and conserve the values of the Peel-Yalgorup Wetland System, recognised internationally as Ramsar 482. This was followed by the screening of a short film (link provided below) featuring the black bream project and describing the role of each of the scientists, including the budding aquaculturalists at John Tonkin College. The formalities ended with a panel session giving the opportunity for the audience to ask questions of the project team, including students from John Tonkin College, to provide an insight into what it has been like working first-hand on the project and what their learnings and experiences have been in the past year.

We thank Peel Bright Minds for hosting such a successful event and for showcasing the Stock Enhancement of Black Bream project to the wider community.

Stock Enhancement of Black Bream short film: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86MUUpVyB2k

If you would like to volunteer for Peel Bright Minds, please head to the website: http://www.peelbrightminds.com.au/

This project is supported by the Peel-Harvey Catchment Council through funding from the State Governments Royalties for Regions Program and the Australian Governments National Landcare Program.

The event was made possible through a grant from the Western Australian Coordinating Committee for National Science Week.

We acknowledge the Noongar people as Traditional Custodians of this land and pay our respects to all Elders past and present