Mac­quarie River Trout Cod lives on thanks to six-year project

Dubbo Photo News - - News - By JOHN RYAN

ONE of the city’s largest com­mu­nity projects has wrapped up af­ter six years of un­end­ing suc­cess.

The NSW En­vi­ron­men­tal Trust granted Dubbo’s Mac­quarie River Bush­care Group $250,000 for the Pro­tect Re­pair Con­nect Project, and that project fin­ishes up in a few day’s time.

Bush­care vol­un­teer Melissa Gray said the project’s aims were to pro­tect, re­pair and con­nect pri­or­ity sites within a 100km reach of habi­tat of the en­dan­gered Trout Cod.

“To achieve this, we ran bi-monthly work­ing bees, in­volv­ing rub­bish re­moval, ri­par­ian plant­ing and weed con­trol,” Ms Gray told Dubbo Photo News.

“We cleared 48 hectares of weeds in­clud­ing wil­lows, cas­tor oil and African box­thorn, and planted over 1600 trees.

“We col­lected a mas­sive 4.6 tonnes of rub­bish from around and in the river,” she said.

The ac­tive Bush­care group also or­gan­ised re-snag­ging of 20 trees into six woody habi­tat com­plexes as well as fenc­ing to ex­clude stock from 15km of river bank, with cat­tle in par­tic­u­lar known to be ero­sive forces near streams.

Ed­u­ca­tional sig­nage was in­stalled along lo­cal stretches of the Mac­quarie pro­mot­ing such mes­sages as “Why Wil­lows Won’t Do”, “Pro­tect­ing the Trout Cod – Shy Crea­tures of the Mac­quarie River” and “Mac­quarie Na­tive Fish need Na­tive Plants”.

“Once wide­spread and abun­dant in the Mac­quarie River, dra­matic man-made changes to our river have seen dra­matic de­cline in pop­u­la­tions of Trout Cod over the last cen­tury,” Ms Gray said.

“Trout Cod are sim­i­lar to Mur­ray Cod but you can dis­tin­guish a Trout Cod by a black eye stripe on the side of the head, a blue-grey coloura­tion with a grey belly, and an over­bite – the up­per jaw be­ing longer than the bot­tom,” she ex­plained.

Mem­bers of Dubbo Mac­quarie Bush­care group have en­joyed a so­cial cuppa af­ter each work­ing bee, and are given many op­por­tu­ni­ties to learn about the health of Na­tive Fish and In­land Rivers, ac­cord­ing to Ms Gray – and they’re al­ways on the look­out for new vol­un­teers to help re­vi­talise the river.

For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion about Dubbo Mac­quarie River Bush­care, in­clud­ing how to vol­un­teer, email dub­bobush­[email protected]­hoo. com.au

If you hap­pen to catch a Trout Cod, please re­lease it safely and re­port the sight­ing to DPI Fish­eries staff www.dpi.nsw.gov. au/fish­ing/species-pro­tec­tion/ re­port-it

Vol­un­teers with the Mac­quarie River Bush­care Group have been part of the six-year ef­fort to help save the en­dan­gered Trout Cod. In­set: This rare and en­dan­gered Trout Cod was pho­tographed on the Mac­quarie River in 2011 be­fore be­ing re­turned to the wa­ter.

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