Mid-Murray Floodplain Recovery Reach
The Mid-Murray Floodplain Recovery Reach spans the Victorian and NSW Murray Floodplain and includes the Murray River, lower Campaspe River lower Goulburn River, Broken Creek, Barmah-Millewa Forest Icon Site, and the upper reaches of the Edwards-Wakool anabranch system. The approximate area of the reach is 10,000 km2 and it consists of a network of over 400km permanent waterways, ephemeral creeks, and wetlands.
The importance of this Recovery Reach
The Mid-Murray floodplain Recovery Reach has one of the highest diversities of native fish species within the Murray-Darling Basin. The reach is a stronghold for recreational fishing species such as Murray cod and golden perch and contains important populations of threatened species such as trout cod and silver perch. The reach has a mosaic of habitat types including the Murray River and large lowland tributary rivers, flowing anabranches, billabongs, lakes, and small permanent floodplain wetlands within Ramsar listed river red gum forests. These diverse habitats support a diverse fish assemblage. The reach contains critical habitat for threatened floodplain specialist fish such as southern pygmy perch and flat-headed galaxias. These floodplain habitats can be further enhanced to support locally extinct small-bodied fish such as southern purple spotted gudgeon and to provide productive nursery areas for juvenile golden and silver perch.
The vision of the Mid-Murray Floodplain Recovery Reach is to increase native fish populations and recover threatened species, creating a healthy fish community in the mid-Murray region that can contribute meaningfully to the health of the broader MDB fish community.
Goals for the Recovery Reach include:
- Prevent the extinction of threatened floodplain specialist native fish species in the Recovery Reach and the Murray River Corridor
- Promote the recovery and persistence of threatened floodplain specialist native fish species in the Recovery Reach and the Murray River Corridor
- Actively involve First Nations, the local community, schools, native fish interest groups, recreational fishers, and research institutes in native fish conservation.
- Use best available knowledge and practices to support the efficient and effective management of threatened floodplain specialist native fish species.
- Promote the recovery of riverine native fish communities through improved wetlands habitats that support juvenile native fish and increase prey species populations.
What has been done
- Project Steering committee has been established.
- Fish Recovery Plan development has commenced.
- Successful ‘wetland warriors’ forum held in Deniliquin to share knowledge and research on floodplain specialist fish.
- Captive breeding program for southern purple spotted gudgeon has commenced (funded through DELWP Icon Species grant)
- Reintroduction of locally extinct southern pygmy perch into the Deniliquin lagoons and Black Charlie lagoon in Gunbower Forest
What further work is planned?
- Finalise a fish recovery plan for the reach, outlining priority actions to address flows, habitat, and connectivity, to recover key native fish species over a 10–15-year timeframe.
- Initiate further captive breeding programs for southern pygmy perch and southern purple spotted gudgeon.
- Working with land managers, Traditional Owners, and community groups to enhance habitat at 6-8 wetlands (through fencing, habitat restoration, alien fish control). Reintroduce threatened and locally extinct floodplain specialist fish such as southern pygmy perch, southern purple spotted gudgeon, and freshwater catfish into these improved habitats.
- Development of an eDNA probe for flat-headed galaxias and a citizen science eDNA collection project to map the current distribution of the species.
Working with community:
There will be a number of activities with key stakeholders relationships in the Mid-Murray Floodplain region to provide on-ground coordination and information sharing across fisheries-related activities.
Peter ran two webinars during November 2021 about native fish recovery in the Mid-Murray Floodplain. The first session was with Ivor Stuart and they discussed the draft Threatened Wetland Warrior native fish. The second session was with Dr Nick Whiterod and Tri-State Alliance native fish working group Members, speaking about Threatened Wetland Warrior native fish.
Meet the coordinator: Peter Rose
Peter Rose is freshwater ecologist and Project Manager for North Central CMA’s Native Fish Recovery Plan-Gunbower and lower Loddon.
The Native Fish Recovery Strategy will supplement and build on existing knowledge, generated under the previous native fish strategy and will be implemented collaboratively with Basin state governments, First Nations and the wider community. It’s development will be delivered concurrently with the implementation of high-priority implementation activities including the Lower Darling Fish Monitoring and Engagement program and the Native fish emergency response plan.
Main Photo: Reedy lagoon, ideal habitat for threatened floodplain specialist fish. Credit: Peter Rose.