The Gerry Cook Fish Hatchery on the edge of Lake Macdonald
The Gerry Cook Fish Hatchery on the edge of Lake Macdonald Warren Lynam

Fish out of water as hatchery moves for dam build

A HATCHERY dedicated to replenishing stocks of the endangered Mary River cod will be forced from its Sunshine Coast base to allow for dam wall rebuilding.

The Gerry Cook Cod Hatchery, on the shore of Lake Macdonald, is in the construction zone for Seqwater's project.

Now run by the Mary River Catchment Coordinating Committee, the hatchery has been boosting cod stocks since the 1980s.

Mary River cod are a prized game fish, with bag limits restricted to one and fish only to be taken from designated, stocked areas.

Committee chairman Ian Mackay said new breeding ponds would be dug out at the hatchery manager's nearby property so eight to 10 brood fish could continue fingerling production.

Mr Mackay said the move would limit production but was grateful for Seqwater's support in making it happen.

"It was really the only option we had apart from putting them (breeding fish) back in the river," Mr Mackay said.

The group released about 20,000 Mary River cod fingerlings into waterways last year.

Mr Mackay said there were no guarantees the new ponds would work.

"They are very difficult to raise.

"It is quite finicky."

But he said Seqwater had been very supportive.

An Seqwater spokesman said Seqwater had been in discussion with hatchery operators for a year about the need for them to temporarily relocate.

"The hatchery will need to be relocated by the end of February 2019 to allow works to begin," the spokesman said.

"The hatchery has acknowledged the importance of the project and we greatly appreciate their support."

He said Seqwater recognised the significant conservation benefits of the hatchery and would support re-establishing the program at Lake Macdonald once construction was complete.

"Once we have finalised the detailed design of the dam upgrade, we will start planning construction.

"More information about construction and what it will involve, including traffic management and earthworks, as well as any other impacted areas around the lake, will be made available in the coming months."

He said Seqwater would seek feedback from the community about the project impacts as part of its approval process over the next six months.