ON THE LAND Cod pop­u­la­tions in­creas­ing

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page -

Some of the lo­cal most sort af­ter fish, the Mur­ray cod and Trout cod pop­u­la­tions in the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin are im­prov­ing due to in­creased flows and bet­ter habi­tats.

Re­cent re­search un­der­taken by gov­ern­ment agen­cies, uni­ver­si­ties and com­mu­nity groups have as­sisted the Mur­ray–Dar­ling Basin Au­thor­ity (MDBA) to ex­am­ine how pop­u­la­tions of na­tive fish species are track­ing in the Basin.

MDBA Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor En­vi­ron­men­tal Man­age­ment, Carl Bin­ning said the eval­u­a­tion showed some na­tive fish pop­u­la­tions have im­proved while oth­ers are re­main­ing sta­ble and only a small num­ber are in de­cline.

“These re­sults point to the Com­mon­wealth and state en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter man­agers’ in­creas­ing in­sight into how best to man­age wa­ter in the fu­ture, build­ing on the knowl­edge and ex­per­tise that has been gained over the first five years of the Basin Plan,” Mr Bin­ning said.

“We know that wa­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment can be re­leased at dif­fer­ent rates, times and lo­ca­tions to help na­tive fish breed and move through the Basin.

“It’s also re­ally im­por­tant to com­bine flows with other ac­tions such as fish stock­ing and habi­tat restora­tion—it’s not all about flows.”

The data showed that en­vi­ron­men­tal flows have re­sulted in more than 40 pos­i­tive re­sponses, in­clud­ing fish spawn­ing and re­cruit­ment events.

“Through the Basin Plan, we aim to en­sure there is enough wa­ter to look af­ter river health and our na­tive fish, while also sup­port­ing a pro­duc­tive river sys­tem,” Mr Bin­ning said.

“In the Lower lakes, Con­goli and Com­mon galax­ias are im­prov­ing. Wa­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment has also im­proved spawn­ing events for Golden perch, Mur­ray cod and Sil­ver perch.

“These re­sults are promis­ing – but there is more work to do to build na­tive fish num­bers af­ter the sig­nif­i­cant fall in the num­bers and dis­tri­bu­tion of na­tive fish that has oc­curred for the past 150 years.

“Three species, the Yarra pygmy perch, the Pur­ple-spot­ted gud­geon and the South­ern pygmy perch, have been iden­ti­fied as in a de­cline.

“We can be hope­ful given our re­cent track record. In the past three years nearly 300 flow events were pro­vided by en­vi­ron­men­tal wa­ter hold­ers to sup­port na­tive fish species and about 90 per cent of these achieved their aim.

“Carp re­main a key chal­lenge in the Basin. The MDBA sup­ports the Na­tional Carp Con­trol Plan be­ing de­vel­oped by the Aus­tralian Gov­ern­ment.”

These re­sults form part of the Basin Plan Eval­u­a­tion, which looks at progress since the plan was agreed in 2012.

The eval­u­a­tion will also iden­tify lessons learned to see how we can do things bet­ter into the fu­ture.

Fur­ther find­ings from the eval­u­a­tion will be re­leased over com­ing months.

Carp are the big­gest threat to other species of fish in the Mur­ray Dar­ling Basin.

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