Fish and fish habitat unmasked at Tarwin River estuary event

NEARLY 50 people enjoyed a glorious day out at the Estuaries Unmasked Tarwin River event in Tarwin Lower on Sunday, November 8, showcasing fish and fish habitat of the Tarwin River. 

Scientists demonstrate electrofishing to attendees

The event, hosted by the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI) and the West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (WGCMA), aimed to raise awareness of the importance of rehabilitating waterways and habitats for healthy, self-sustaining fish populations. 

The event was jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, EstuaryWatch and the Victorian Government using Recreational Fishing Licence Fees. 

ARI aquatic scientist Renae Ayres said “It’s great to see so many people enjoying the estuary, while learning about fish and their habitat in the Tarwin River catchment, and how we can help improve habitat for fish.   

“There is a diverse fish community in the Tarwin River catchment. Its salt and fresh waters are home to over 50 species of fish, including popular recreational fish species like estuary perch, black bream, river blackfish and trout, as well as threatened fish species, such as Australian grayling, Australian whitebait and Australian mudfish. 

“All fish need a range of habitats to survive, grow and breed. Logs, rocks, reeds, saltmarshes, mangroves and trees all provide fish habitat. Any improvements we make in these areas can help support and grow our fish populations naturally.” 

Around 50 people attended the event to learn about fish and fish habitat in the Tarwin River.

Matt Khoury, Community Waterways Officer at WGCMA, provided information on various instream and riverbank habitats in the Tarwin River and actions that WGCMA and the local community are taking to protect and improve fish habitat, including managing livestock access, planting native trees and installing fishways to enable fish passage. 

A highlight of the day was seeing the various methods scientists use to research fish. A boat-electrofishing demonstration gave people the opportunity to get up close and personal with several species of fish that were collected, including estuary perch, black bream, mullet, luderick, flounder, tupong and toadfish. Among the many estuary perch observed, one of those collected measured 43 cm long, which would be over 22 years old! 

The day was successful thanks to involvement from local residents from Tarwin Lower, Venus Bay and Inverloch, as well as people from Venus Bay Angling Club, Leongatha Angling Club, Southern Fly Fishers, Fish Creek Landcare, EstuaryWatch, VRFish, Australian Trout Foundation and Venus Bay Men’s Shed.

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