Research from the Arthur Rylah Institute has shed significant new light on the importance of environmental flows for native fish.
Recent monitoring has revealed that Golden perch migrate extensive distances downstream and upstream in the Goulburn River during spring, and even move into the Murray River at times.
Wayne Koster from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research said that researchers had suspected that Golden perch movements were related to breeding, and recent monitoring with fine mesh nets to collect fish eggs during environmental flows confirmed that spring movements coincided with high levels of spawning in the river.
“One of the most significant findings of the study is that migration and spawning of golden perch depends on increased flows in spring.” Mr Koster said. “This information is vital for managing river flows more effectively in the future.”
The monitoring program, which uses electronic tracking technology, is investigating migration and spawning of Golden perch in the Goulburn River to more effectively conserve and manage this popular angling species.
“These long distance movements also highlight the need to remove or modify barriers such as weirs and ford crossings in rivers to allow fish to migrate.” Mr Koster said.
The November environmental flows in the Goulburn River used Commonwealth environmental water and transfers of water trade to the Murray River.
The fish monitoring is being funded primarily by the Australian government, which is is investing in comprehensive longer-term intervention monitoring over the next five years, measuring ecological responses to environmental watering at seven selected areas that are representative of Commonwealth environmental watering across the Murray-Darling Basin, including in the Goulburn River. The Victorian Environmental Water Holder has also provided funding to assist with monitoring ecological responses to environmental flows in the Goulburn River.
Environmental flows are planned by the Goulburn Broken CMA, and managed by Goulburn Murray Water in line with the Victorian Environmental Water Holder’s (VEWH) Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15, which aims to improve river and wetland health across the State. Environmental water delivery also takes into consideration delivery orders by irrigators and other water users.
For more information visit www.gbcma.vic.gov.au
The VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2014-15 is available at www.vewh.vic.gov.au
Goulburn Murray Water publishes river flow forecasts on its website at www.g-mwater.com.au/managing-water-storages
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder http://www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo