Government and fishos unite to improve health of upper Macquarie River

Rod Price, manufacturer of Native Lures, with a nice golden perch prior to release which was caught on one of his soft plastics in the Macquarie River close to Bathurst.

THE upper Macquarie and the tributaries which form the Macquarie River were first documented in 1813 by explorer George Evans, and resulted in him naming one such stream, Fish River. Evans quoted that the stream, “broke through to a large rivulet in open country where the party caught & ate many large fish of up to 15lbs in weight… There is game in abundance. If we want fish it is caught immediately.”

The Macquarie River starts where the Fish and Campbells Rivers meet just upstream of Australia’s oldest inland city, Bathurst, in NSW. Almost 200 years after Evans first documented the river, the populations of native fish in the Murray Darling Basin (MDB) were estimated to be about 10 per cent of their pre-European settlement levels and still declining.

Members of the Central Acclimatisation Society (CAS) have for some time been concerned with the severely modified and degraded state of the Macquarie River downstream of the confluence of the Fish and Campbells Rivers through the city of Bathurst.

In April 2016 habitat mapping funded by Central Tablelands Local Land Service and conducted by NSW DPI Fisheries identified that riparian and in-stream habitats are generally in poor condition in this part of the river with few native trees, no native shrub layer and refuge holes for native fish filled in.

An example of a degraded section to be rehabilitated within the site.

The Sofala Branch of the Central Acclimatisation Society applied for a Fish Habitat Action Grant to restore habitat in the Macquarie River at Bathurst and were successful with the application. The project title is “Recovery of the Mac” and the project has been assisted by the NSW DPI Fisheries Recreational Fishing Trusts Habitat Action Grant Program.

The Sofala branch of CAS in collaboration with Bathurst Regional Council, NSW DPI Fisheries, Central Tablelands Local Land Services and the Environment and Waterways Alliance have partnered to implement the project and restore the health of the upper reaches of the Macquarie River.

Actions proposed in the project will include control of invasive weeds such as crack willow and blackberry and replacing them by replanting long stem native species to improve riparian habitat and provide shading of the water and a source of food such as insects for native fish, remediation of two existing man-made rock weirs to improve fish passage and providing in-stream fish habitat.

Long term aims of the project are primarily to improve the overall health of the river and it is hoped that seeds from the native plants will spread downstream and regenerate and that the river will be able to support healthy breeding populations of native fish enhancing recreational fishing opportunities in the region. The project will compliment recent and future native fish restocking programs in the upper section of the Macquarie River.

More information about habitat regeneration and native fish restocking can be found on the NSW DPI website.

Trout cod being released into the Macquarie River.

What's your reaction?

Related Posts

Load More Posts Loading...No More Posts.