Golden future for natives

AFTER an eight year “dry spell” brought on by the long drought and blackwater, golden perch (Macquaria ambigua) have spawned in the mid-Murray River this year.

Monitoring of the fish conducted by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ (DEPI) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) found good levels of perch spawning in the Barmah Millewa section of the river for the first time since 2005.

ARI Fish Ecologist Zeb Tonkin said: “The drought and follow-up blackwater events in the Murray River have meant spawning of golden perch has been almost non-existent in the region for the past eight years.”

“The return of higher flows down the river over the past two years has resulted in an increased number of adult golden perch in the region, but spawning levels have remained low.”

“This year, environmental water releases have helped to extend the naturally higher spring flows down the Murray, but importantly, we also detected golden perch spawning.”

“The spawning is not only a relief for the golden perch but a promising sign for other species that are likely to benefit from the changes in the way the Murray River has been managed over the past decade.”

“The same monitoring program is also looking at the Murray cod and trout cod and we are hoping that future results will identify spawning events for these threatened fish as well.”

“[The] Golden perch appears to have escaped the worst impacts of the 2011 blackwater event but low flows due to drought and anything else that impedes the movement of adult fish represent significant problems for them.”

“[The] Golden perch is a popular species with recreational anglers so this spawning event is likely to mean some good fishing seasons are on the way along the Murray River.”

ARI is monitoring the spawning of large-bodied fish species in the Murray River as part of a long-term condition monitoring program under The Living Murray.

The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the Victorian, New South Wales, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth governments, and is coordinated by the Murray–Darling Basin Authority.

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