News

Taking pressure off native fish in the Darling River

  • Community invited to be part of the Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy
  • Coalition Government committed $88 million to secure future fish health
  • An emergency response plan for the Basin to be in place in preparation for summer

Work is underway to protect native fish in the Darling River this summer with an early warning system and special fish refuges.

Minister for Water Resources David Littleproud said a range of emergency measures identified by Professor Robert Vertessy would be in place before entering the high-risk season.

“Unless we get good rain soon we will see more fish deaths this summer,” Minister Littleproud said.

“We’re taking steps right now to make sure an Emergency Response Plan is in place.

“The states and MDBA are setting up early warning systems that monitor conditions in the Basin.

“This will tell us where to put aerators to create fish refuges where they’re needed most.

“We will also be on the front foot if we need to relocate fish.

“No-one wants a repeat of last summer’s events and without rain, conditions for native fish are likely to deteriorate and we need to plan for a quick response.

“We also need to think long-term and we need Basin communities to get involved in developing an ongoing strategy to protect native fish.

“Local communities are passionate about native fish health and it’s important they have the opportunity to help set the direction of the Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy.

“I encourage fishing groups, tourism operators and other community members to get involved as they know their river and local fish populations better than anyone. 

“Scientists are working on this now, but we also need local knowledge to make sure the strategy is fit for purpose.

“I have asked for the Native Fish Management and Recovery Strategy to be finalised by April 2020.

“We’ve also committed $88 million to a comprehensive program for fish research and recovery, rebuilding the health of ecosystems and providing emergency responses during drought.

“This includes rolling out the recommendations from the Vertessy Report in response to the fish deaths in the Lower Darling River last summer.”

To have your say on the draft native fish management and recovery strategy go to: www.getinvolved.mdba.gov.au/native-fish-strategy

Fast facts:

  • The Bureau of Meteorology has warned hot, dry conditions are likely to continue this spring.
  • Three fish death events happened along a 40 km section of the Darling River last summer
  • The Coalition Government established an Independent panel led by Professor Rob Vertessy to assess the fish deaths and to prevent further such events.
  • Native fish are important culturally, ecologically and economically with recreational fishing contributing around $1.3 billion a year to local economies in the Murray–Darling.