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Murray crayfish listed as “vulnerable”

THE iconic Murray crayfish has been listed as a vulnerable species in NSW by the state’s independent Fisheries Scientific Committee (FSC).

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Director of Aquaculture, Conservation and
Marine Parks, Bill Talbot said the FSC is an independent scientific advisory body which is
responsible for assessing and listing threatened species.

“Following an assessment of the species’ status, Australia’s endemic Murray crayfish has now been listed as vulnerable in NSW,” Mr Talbot said.

“The Murray crayfish was once widespread throughout the lower Murray-Darling Basin,
however they are now considered rare in the lowland reaches of the Murray and
Murrumbidgee Rivers and are rare or absent west of Mildura.

“The FSC has identified a range of threats contributing to the species’ decline including
habitat modification and degradation, river regulation, pesticides and pollution, competition and predation by introduced species, and low dissolved oxygen concentrations associated with blackwater events.

“In addition, Murray crayfish are relatively long lived, slow growing, late maturing and have very low levels of dispersal, meaning they will take a long time to recolonise any waters where they have disappeared.”

Talbot said changes to recreational fishing rules were introduced earlier this year to
help protect and rebuild stocks of Murray crayfish, and these rules will remain in place for the remainder of this year’s season.

“Murray crayfish are a valued recreational species and arrangements have been put in
place to provide continued recreational fishing opportunities,” Talbot said.

“This approach balances the conservation needs of the species while also reducing social and economic impacts that would result if the recreational fishery was closed.

“It is important that fishers continue to follow the new rules and regulations including the new bag, size and possession limits and the ban on taking berried females in order to ensure the sustainability of our iconic Murray crayfish.

“An environmental assessment of recreational fishing impacts on Murray Crayfish will be
prepared and the community will be given an opportunity to comment before longer term recreational fishing arrangements are finalised.”

More information on fishing rules can be viewed at www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au and the
FSC’s final determination can be found at www.fsc.nsw.gov.au.

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