It’s a fish journey that gives Finding Nemo a run for its money.

Rewind to 2013 in the East Kimberley Ord River in Kununurra, where 12 barramundi were caught, placed in a specially adapted trailer and transported over 1,000km north-east to North Regional TAFE’s Aquaculture Centre in Broome.

Over the past nine years, they grew from around 50cm in length to about one metre, changed from male to female and spawned almost a quarter of a million baby barra between them.

On the beautiful morning of July 8th, those original 12 barramundi made the 1,000 km ‘return-journey’ and were released into Lake Kununurra, where they will see out the rest of their years.

“It was so good seeing these animals go full circle and return to where they’re from,” said Milton Williams, North Regional TAFE Senior Aquaculture Technician, who has worked at the centre for the last 15 years and oversaw the release operation of these magical fish.

“Having seen them grow and do their bit spawning, it was so rewarding watching them swim off into their wild habitat.”

It is a testament to the stocking program run alongside the North Regional TAFE in Broome and our local Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group, which has seen more than one million barramundi released into the waterways since 2013.

Want to read more about the release of these 12 barramundi in Kununurra? Check out the Recfishwest article here.

One million barra! 

About 150 fishers and holidaymakers and Fisheries Minister Don Punch joined Recfishwest and the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group for the momentous community fish stocking event along the lake’s banks at Lily Creek Lagoon on 18 July 2021.

WATCH: See the highlights from the momentous release here

There were plenty of smiling faces and happy families at the release event, lending a helping hand.

Everyone was eager to get involved and release the 60-day-old barra fingerlings – bred at North Regional TAFE’s Broome Aquaculture Centre – safely into their new surroundings.

Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said fishing was always better when the fish are biting and the Lake Kununurra barramundi stocking program shows how effective fish stocking initiatives can be.

“The program highlights how true fish abundance promotes excellent fishing experiences, while also benefiting regional communities,” he said.

“Lake Kununurra is something all of us involved in the stocking program and the local community can be genuinely proud of.”

Want to read the full story? Click here!

Every single barra released into Lake Kununurra was hatched and reared at North Regional TAFE’s (NRT) Broome Aquaculture Centre, with its aquaculture experts influential in the program’s success.

The stocking program exists because barra are unable to successfully reproduce in the freshwater lake – they require saltwater to complete the breeding process.

WATCH: See how barra broodstock are collected!

“We need to collect male barra for our maturation tanks at the Broome Aquaculture Centre so we can keep stocking fish into Lake Kununurra,” NRT’s Milton Williams explained.

“Barra are born as males, but transition into females at about 80cm. At the moment, we’re running out of males so we need to collect more while we’re here in Kununurra.”

The State Government has committed funds to the program over the next three years through the COVID-19 recreational fishing recovery package.

This will ensure the fishing enjoyed on the lake by East Kimberley locals and travelling anglers will continue to go from strength-to-strength.

Read the full story on Recfishwest’s website! (Link to the link: 

Lake Kununurra, a safe freshwater fishing location boasting 1m barramundi.

It’s the pursuit for trophy fish which sees anglers travel to Kununurra for the opportunity to land these big, bustling barra.

While the 55km lake is the main attraction, one of the most important pieces of the ongoing Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking program is based more than 1,000km away… at Broome.

WATCH: See how barra are bred at North Regional TAFE

More than one million barra, all hatched and reared at North Regional TAFE’s Broome Aquaculture Centre, have been released into Lake Kununurra since 2013.

The TAFE's aquaculture experts have been influential in the well-managed stocking program’s success, nurturing the barra after they are hatched.

Then, when the fish are about 50 days old, they safely transport them across the Kimberley during an almost 12-hour journey to their soon-to-be new home – Lake Kununurra. 

In September, 2021, Fisheries Minister Don Punch toured the North Regional TAFE’s aquaculture facility to take an up-close look at how the barra are bred.

Watch the video above and hear how the aquaculture experts breed barra for the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Program.

Barra eggs and larvae require saltwater for successful fertilisation and Lake Kununurra is freshwater, meaning the barra stocked cannot complete the breeding cycle in the lake.

That’s why multiple spawning events take place at the North Regional TAFE hatchery throughout the year, with one female barramundi producing up to 10 million eggs in the hatchery. 

With one million more barra set to be stocked into Lake Kununurra over the next three years from 2021 as part of the State Government's recfishing COVID recovery package, North Regional TAFE will continue to play a critical role in the barramundi stocking program’s development.

Let them go, watch them grow!

On September 29, 2021, another 135,000 barramundi fingerlings were released into Lake Kununurra as part of the ongoing Lake Kununurra Barra Stocking Program.

This program has seen more than 1 million fish released into the waterway since 2013 – and there’s still more to come.

From 2021, another one million fish will be stocked into Lake Kununurra over a three-year period as part of the State Government's recfishing COVID recovery package.

This will ensure the fishing enjoyed on the lake by East Kimberley locals and travelling anglers will continue to go from strength-to-strength. 

See the photos as barra were stocked into their new home on September 29, 2021 below!

More than 700 fishers, over 100 barramundi caught and one MAJOR prize won — it's safe to say the 23rd Apex Kununurra Barra Bash from 24 September to 26 September was a great success!

A huge congratulations to Steve Barnett, pictured above, who was the lucky fisher to claim the F370 Quintrex Outback Explorer top prize for simply buying a $60 raffle ticket and taking part in the Bash.

Although fishers had the option to fish anywhere in the East Kimberley, many competitors stayed close to town and tried their luck at Lake Kununurra to try land a 1m-plus barra.

Big barra are on offer in the lake thanks to a well-managed stocking program which has seen more than 1 million fish released into the waterway since 2013.

Recfishwest was proud to once again support the Bash and sponsor a Lowrance Elite FS 9 Active Imaging 3-in-1 Transducer for the fisher who caught the biggest barra on the lake across the three days.

Well done to Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group member and avid fisher Curt McCartney for taking out the lake component prize, after landing a whopping 111cm barra!

Release another one million barra into Lake Kununurra? Yes, please!

In August, 2020, Premier Mark McGowan announced the multi-million recfishing COVID recovery package to support WA's COVID-19 recovery as the State emerged from the pandemic. 

WATCH: Premier Mark McGowan reveals recfishing COVID recovery package

For the State’s recfishing community, including us at the Lake Kununurra Barramundi Stocking Group, this was major news given its focus to drive more locals and tourists to WA's iconic fishing locations.

With the package set to boost various WA fish stocking programs, LKBSG were pleased the package included a commitment to stock another one million barra into Lake Kununurra over three years.

Following the announcement, Recfishwest – WA’s peak recreational fishing body – championed the package.

“It’s great to see the Premier and the State Government recognise the importance of fishing and the key role it has in contributing to our economy, our lifestyle and the health and wellbeing of the one in three West Aussies who go fishing each year,” Recfishwest CEO Dr Andrew Rowland said.

“This will see millions of fish released into WA waters and support existing fish stocking programs giving a huge boost to Lake Kununurra’s popular barramundi stocking program.

“Well-managed fish stocking programs can play an important role in future-proofing our fish stocks by helping increase fish abundance, as well as creating great new fishing opportunities.”

There are more than 750,000 recfishers in WA, who spend $2.4 billion annually on fishing. 

“It’s great to see the Government getting behind fishing,” Dr Rowland said.

“Working with Government to ensure great initiatives, such as the Lake Kununurra barra stocking program, continue to make fishing even better in WA for all West Aussies is fantastic.”

crossmenuarrow-down-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram