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Co-ordinated flows a boost for native fish

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April 27, 2017

Environmental flows have been used to distribute fish including Silver Perch across the southern Murray-Darling Basin.

The co-ordination of environmental flows in three rivers has been used to distribute Golden Perch (Macquaria ambigua), Silver Perch (Bidyanus bidyanus) and other native fish across river networks throughout parts of the southern Murray-Darling Basin.

Principal Research Scientist from the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning’s (DELWP) Arthur Rylah Institute Jarod Lyon said Victoria co-ordinated flow releases in the Goulburn and Campaspe Rivers with an environmental flow in the Murray River to encourage fish movement and increase fish populations throughout the basin.

“During these co-ordinated flows we monitored tagged fish, such as Golden and Silver Perch, as part of a project supported by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring and Assessment Program (VEFMAP) and found fish used the flows to move out of the Murray and into tributaries,” Mr Lyon said.

“These results show that migration of native fish during flows into the tributaries of the Murray River could be a substantial driver of populations.

“Using this information our environmental watering programs can use these flows as a targeted management action to assist the recovery of native fish populations in the tributaries of the Murray.”

According to Mr Lyon maintaining and increasing fish populations in the river systems was an important target of environmental flow releases under Victorian Government and Commonwealth Government programs such as Water for Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin Plan.

“By coordinating the delivery of environmental flows in northern Victoria we are making sure we maximise the shared benefits of water for productive, environmental, cultural and recreational users,” he said.

“Fish don’t respect state borders - our river systems are a network of corridors that fish use to complete their life cycle.”

The development and implementation of environmental watering programs in Victoria occurs as a collaborative process between Victorian and Commonwealth government agencies, land managers and water authorities.

The agencies involved in this project include the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA), North Central CMA, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and Goulburn Murray Water.

Understanding how to maximise the benefits of environmental watering requires ecological data to inform decision-making processes and management plans.

In view of this, the Victorian Government established VEFMAP to monitor and evaluate the ecological benefit of environmental water use in Victoria.

This project is part of a $222 million investment by the Victorian Government to improve the health of waterways and catchments.

For more information go to http://delwp.vic.gov.au/water/water-for-victoria

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