Lazy afternoons pulling barramundi out of balmy waters – it might not sound like Gippsland, but it could soon be a reality under a proposal for the controversial Hazelwood power station.
Plans to establish a barramundi fishery in the waste-water pondage of the power station, seen by environmentalists as one of Australia's worst carbon emitters, are tipped to be approved this month.
A Department of Primary Industries panel met on Wednesday to consider the environmental risks of the proposal, and its advice will inform the department's final decision within a fortnight.
The plan is based on the unusually warm waters in the massive pondage, a result of their role in cooling the power station. Temperatures typically between 25 and 30 degrees make the pondage ideal for barramundi, which thrive in the warm, tropical waters of Australia's north.
The recreational fishing group behind the plan, Futurefish, says it could boost tourism, and the predatory barramundi could reduce populations of exotic fish, including goldfish, which have established themselves in the pondage.