Fish Hatchery Fish Hatchery

GAWB (supported by the Gladstone Ports Corporation Limited) operates  a modern marine fish hatchery for the purpose of supplying fingerlings to restock Lake Awoonga,  Gladstone's principal water storage.  The hatchery  is one of the largest breeders  of barramundi fingerlings in Queensland. It also breeds mangrove jack and sea mullet. Over 4,000,000 barramundi, 530,000 sea mullet and 70,000  mangrove jack fingerlings have been released  into Lake Awoonga.

The aims of this project are threefold:

  • to return fish species to the Boyne River which have been displaced by construction of the dam wall
  • to provide a high quality recreational fishery in the Gladstone region; and
  • to encourage recreational use of the lake.

The hatchery is one of the largest breeders of barramundi fingerlings in Queensland and the mangrove jack breeding program has resulted in Lake Awoonga holding the largest stocks in Australia with over 70,942 released.

The hatchery is situated at the corner of Lord and Glenlyon Streets on the bank of Auckland Inlet, Gladstone and currently employs four full-time staff who together run the hatchery and monitor and manage the Lake Awoonga fishery.

Stocking and monitoring of Lake Awoonga began in the early 1980s, and was carried out by local stocking groups and under the Queensland Department of Primary Industries' Recreational Fishery Enhancement Program. Restocking at this time saw almost 250,000 fingerlings released into Lake Awoonga. Many of these species are no longer permitted to be released due to new translocation legislation.

Because this stocking effort met with limited success, in 1991 GAWB commissioned consultants to survey the lake and make recommendations on future stocking. The consultant's report concluded that stocked species were not a significant component of the fishery and highlighted the large number of predators present which presumably were reducing survival rates. The recommendations from this were that barramundi be stocked as the principal species due to its rapid growth, high survival potential and competitive nature.

After consultation with DPI (now DAFF) the decision was made to establish a hatchery to supply the large number and genetic strain of fingerlings required, and in January 1996 the first barramundi were released into Lake Awoonga.

Total numbers of fish stocked in Lake Awoonga up to June 2013 are as follows:

Fish Species


Total Numbers


Avg Size






Sea Mullet





Yellowfin Bream




no record

Mangrove Jack





Pikey Bream




no record

Silver Perch




no record

Sleepy Cod




no record

Sooty Grunter




no record





no record

Javelin Fish




no record

Golden Perch   105,825   no record

TOTAL 4,778,135



Hatchery staff carry out a monitoring program for stocked species in the lake. The information gathered to date enables growth rates and population estimates to be made for barramundi, as well as general health, dispersal, feeding preferences and patterns, and preferred habitat

There is no closed season for barramundi at Lake Awoonga, although there are some limitations:

Limitations (1 Feb to 31 Oct) Limitations (1 Nov to 31 Jan)
Minimum size 58cm Minimum size 58cm
Bag limit of five (5) fish per  person and one (1) fish can be over 120cm Bag limit of one (1) fish per person - this fish can be over 120cm


Other Stocked Fish

Mangrove Jack - minimum size is 35cm -  bag limit of five (5) fish per person

Sea Mullet - minimum size is 30cm  -  bag limit of twenty (20) fish per person

Other Fish - DAFF fishing regulations govern capture of other species.