Fishing lovers have something to celebrate as fish numbers improve throughout border region

Is fishing on the improve in the Macintyre River and other border river systems? Let us know what you think.
Is fishing on the improve in the Macintyre River and other border river systems? Let us know what you think.

Border River fishing lovers have something to celebrate.

Improving water flows throughout the Murray-Darling Basin are having a significant impact on native fish numbers.

Catfish numbers have jumped and the hope is that Cod number will soon follow.

Preliminary results from a Basin Plan Evaluation has shown the importance of the Border rivers for native fish.

“The Border rivers are a hotspot for Murray cod in the Murray–Darling Basin and our analysis is showing improving numbers of Freshwater catfish,”  the report found.

However it’s not all good news.

Low numbers of threatened species such as Olive perchlet and Purple-spotted gudgeon are of concern.

While carp remains a significant problem.

In general though, Murray cod, Trout cod and Macquarie perch populations in the Basin are all improving from increased flows and better habitats.

Drawing on recent research undertaken by government agencies, universities and community groups, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) has examined how populations of native fish species are tracking in the Basin.

MDBA Executive Director Environmental Management, Carl Binning, said the evaluation showed some native fish populations improving, some remaining stable and only a small number in decline.

“These results point to the Commonwealth and state environmental water managers’ increasing insight into how best to manage water in the future, building on the knowledge and expertise that has been gained over the first five years of the Basin Plan,” Mr Binning said.

“We know that water for the environment can be released at different rates, times and locations to help native fish breed and move through the Basin.

“It’s also really important to combine flows with other actions such as fish stocking and habitat restoration—it’s not all about flows.”

The data showed that environmental flows have resulted in more than 40 positive responses, including fish spawning and recruitment events.

“Through the Basin Plan, we aim to ensure there is enough water to look after river health and our native fish, while also supporting a productive river system,” Mr Binning said.

“In the Lower lakes, Congoli and Common galaxias are improving. Water for the environment has also improved spawning events for Golden perch, Murray cod and Silver perch.

“These results are promising – but there is more work to do to build native fish numbers after the significant fall in the numbers and distribution of native fish that has occurred for the past 150 years.

“Three species, the Yarra pygmy perch, the Purple-spotted gudgeon and the Southern pygmy perch, have been identified as in decline.

“We can be hopeful given our recent track record. In the past three years nearly 300 flow events were provided by environmental water holders to support native fish species and about 90 per cent of these achieved their aim.

“Carp remain a key challenge in the Basin. The MDBA supports the National Carp Control Plan being developed by the Australian Government.”

These results form part of the Basin Plan Evaluation, which looks at progress since the Plan was agreed in 2012.

The Evaluation will also identify lessons learned to see how we can do things better into the future.

Further findings from the Evaluation will be released over coming months. For more information see https://www.mdba.gov.au/basin-plan-roll-out/monitoringevaluation. ENDS Contact the MDBA Media office at media@mdba.gov.au or 02 6279 01