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Striking gold in the Vasse River to remove feral fish

OzFish Unlimited 3 mins read
Giant goldfish caught on the Vasse River by OzFish Steve Pursell 2024

Volunteers from Australia’s fishing conservation charity OzFish have begun a restoration project to remove feral goldfish from the Vasse River. The initiative, spearheaded by the OzFish Geographe Chapter, will utilise innovative techniques, including the use of pod traps, to safely capture and remove these invasive fish while minimising disruption to native species. 

While these familiar pets may seem harmless in indoor tanks, when released into the wild, they can wreak havoc on delicate ecosystems. In the Lower Vasse River alone, feral goldfish weighing up to 2 kg and measuring over 40 cm have been recorded, ranking among the world's largest. 

A large population of feral goldfish in the Lower Vasse has had a serious impact on native fish populations and there are concerns they could impact the ecosystem balance in the Ramsar-listed Vasse Wonnerup wetlands. There is a risk the population may spread into other local tributaries which feed into the wetland further downstream.  

OzFish Program Manager for WA, Steve Pursell, is coordinating the project and appreciates the strong connections many locals feel towards the river. “We will utilise the power of community to bring the Goldfish issue in their river under control.” 

 “Goldfish degrade natural ecosystems and do not belong in Aussie waterways,” said Steve Pursell. 

These opportunistic feeders' prey on native fish species, compete for resources, spread fish diseases and contribute to poor water quality by disturbing sediments. 

“These fish have large mouths and a unique feeding behaviour where they sift through mud at the bottom of the river. This disturbs the sediment, releasing nutrients that can trigger harmful algal blooms. They also prey on eggs of our native fish,” stated Steve. 

Improving water quality in the Vasse is vital and is an important issue for the Busselton community, particularly in our increasingly arid climate.  

Goldfish removal is just one piece of the puzzle. We hope this project will empower community members to take positive action to make our local waterways more favourable for native fish than they are for these pests, including the right habitats and water quality, stated Steve. 

Local support for the initiative has been instrumental, with Line in the Sand and Shelter Brewery providing crucial funding and rallying community participation. 

“Line in the Sand was created to raise much-needed funds for local projects which protect and preserve our precious region. We are excited to see this OzFish project move from planning into action," said Howard Cearns.   

OzFish is looking for more recreational fishers to volunteer their time and be involved in this important project for their local Vasse River. To take part, join the Geographe Chapter here. 

This project is generously funded by Line in the Sand and Shelter Brewing and supported by BCF – Boating Camping Fishing. If you would like to know more or get involved jump on the OzFish website and join as a 


Photo opportunities of the gold fish trapping and interviews are available on site tomorrow Thursday 18 April at 10am 

Meet at the City of Bussellton Staff Car Park at 10am on Southern Drive and it is a short walk to the river. Steve Pursell will be available for interview. 




Key Facts:

* Goldfish are an invasive fish and don't belong in our waterways.

* A community project is underway that is trapping them and removing them from the Vasse River.

* Its one piece of the puzzle to help restore the waterway.

About us:
OzFish Unlimited is a national environmental conservation charity established to improve the health of our rivers, lakes and estuaries. It is a member-based organisation dedicated to make our fishing grounds healthy, vibrant and more productive. Their active work includes; habitat restoration such as resnagging, riverbank planting, clean-ups, fishways, shellfish reefs and educational and community capacity building programs. 


Contact details:

Steve Pursell Program Manager WA
0405900112 |  

Renee Ferenc, Director - Engagement and Culture 
0402 019193 | 


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