Narrandera Fisheries Centre is set to undergo a major expansion thanks to a $4 million investment from the NSW Government. The investment will see the construction of new buildings and the installation of high-tech equipment to significantly expand the Centre’s capacity to house native fish species.

Member for Cootamundra Steph Cooke was today joined by Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall for the announcement. Ms Cooke said the investment would cement the Centre’s reputation as the State’s leading facility for freshwater fisheries.

“The wonderful staff here at Narrandera Fisheries Centre are already doing so much in terms of research and native fish breeding,” Ms Cooke said.

“The current facility however is the victim of its own success and has now reached capacity for the housing of small native fish, and is approaching capacity for large native fish.

“This significant investment will take the operations here to a whole new level and will allow staff to house even more rescued fish and undertake one of the State’s largest ever breeding programs.”

The investment comes as the NSW Government warns that the State could be facing a horror summer of fish kills due to prolonged drought, and the prediction of low rainfall and high temperatures over the coming months.

“We know this facility played such a major part in our response to fish kills across the State last summer, storing rescued fish such as the iconic Murray Cod,” Ms Cooke said.

“With conditions expected to be even worse this summer, it’s critical we boost capacity at Narrandera Fisheries to ensure it can cope with increased demand for housing fish and eventually breeding species for restocking our river systems and waterways.

“The Centre is such a wonderful part of our local community and I’m delighted its excellence is being recognised by the NSW Government through this vital investment.”

Minister for Agriculture Adam Marshall said that unless there was significant rainfall in the next month, the State would almost certainly be in for a horror summer of fish kills.

“I’m not going to mince words – the situation we are facing this summer is nothing short of a potential fish Armageddon,” Mr Marshall said.

“We’re in the midst of the worst drought on record, with record low rainfall, record low inflows into our river systems and high temperatures predicted over the coming months.

“We’re facing a perfect storm, which could result in wide-scale fish kill events this summer that are even more significant than those we saw in Menindee earlier this year.

“This unprecedented response is proportionate to the disaster we’re facing. We’ll create a virtual ‘Noah’s Ark’ for native fish species through the largest breeding and restocking effort to save native fish species.

“The expansion of Narrandera Fisheries Centre is going to be indispensable to the State’s ability to combat fish kills this summer.”

Narrandera Fisheries Centre Manager Martin Asmus said the expansion will help fish locally and across NSW.

“We will have a state-of-the-art hatchery which will be able to restock affected areas across NSW when conditions improve, and we will also retrofit our old hatchery,” Mr Asmus said.

“This will enable intensive production of threatened small-body fish, stopping local extinctions of fish like southern pygmy perch or purple spotted gudgeon which are in the same dire straits as large-body fish.

“There will also be a boost for the Narrandera economy by our use of local contractors, plus there will be ongoing employment here.”