A FREAK weather incident may have threatened stocks of brook trout across NSW, but Bathurst High students have come to the rescue.
During the long hot summer, a centre for breeding and rearing cold water sport fish in Jindabyne suffered through a heatwave which sent water temperatures soaring and quickly killed most of the breeding stocks of brook trout.
Run by the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI), the centre rears three species of trout - rainbow, brown and brook - as well as Atlantic salmon which are used to stock dams and rivers in the Central Tablelands as well as the Snowy Mountains, Southern Highlands and New England.
The centre, Gaden Trout Hatchery, is one of Australia's main locations for breeding and rearing the fish and hatchery manager Mitch Elkins said while three species survived the heatwave, the brook trout were devastated.
"It was an extreme weather event and we had three straight days of 28-degree-plus water temperatures, the fish usually start stressing and dying in 24 degrees," he said.
"We lost all of our broodstock."
The long-built-up genetics of the breeding trout had been lost and strict biosecurity legislation in NSW meant the fish could not be brought in from interstate.
However a seven-year-old partnership with Bathurst High will soon put brook trout back on the plates of diners across the state.
In 2012 Bathurst High began sourcing young trout from Gaden Trout Hatchery that could be raised by students in the school's aquaculture class and then sold at farmers' markets and the region's restaurants.
And now, Gaden has sourced its own trout back from the school to help replace the 1000 fish that perished in the heatwave.
It was the perfect solution, Mr Elkins said, as the DPI could be assured of the genetics of the fish and would not have to catch wild trout to replenish its stocks.
Bathurst High technological and applied studies head teacher Patrick Ford said the school has an enclosed recirculated tank system so its trout had not been impacted by the heat.
"From the very beginning they've supplied our program by supplying our fingerlings [young trout]," he said.
"We were willing to donate whatever was required to rejuvenate their breeding program."
Recently 100 large juvenile trout were transported in a large oxygenated tank on the back of the truck from the school to the DPI in Jindabyne.