Wheat

Macquarie Perch enjoy Warm Waters

Tuesday 4 December, 2012
It's that time of year again when the Macquarie Perch enjoy the warmer waters and start their spawning cycle. Each year between October and December, when water temperatures exceed 16°C, the Macquarie Perch lay their eggs in riffles and runs of rocky streams. The eggs then drift downstream and lodge amongst the cobble and will stay there until they hatch 10-11 days later.

It's that time of year again when the Macquarie Perch enjoy the warmer waters and start their spawning cycle. Each year between October and December, when water temperatures exceed 16°C, the Macquarie Perch lay their eggs in riffles and runs of rocky streams. The eggs then drift downstream and lodge amongst the cobble and will stay there until they hatch 10-11 days later.

The Macquarie Perch is an endangered fish species endemic to south-eastern reaches of the Murray-Darling Basin and only a small number of populations exist. These are mainly in cool, rocky, fast-flowing streams such as King Parrot Creek and the Yea River.

Kirsten Roszak, River Health Officer at the Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) says "We are very lucky to live in an area that supports a population of such an endangered fish. We have been seeing steady increases in the population in our annual monitoring, and are hopeful that our survey next year will record young fish born this season."

Their population decline is attributed to loss of habitat, over-fishing and impacts from introduced species such as trout through predation and disease. There is a number of ways you can help this fish. Keen fisherman should be sure to release them as quickly and safely as possible and in the same place they are caught. Removal of this fish from any waterways is prohibited. Anglers are also reminded that if the fish is tagged, give the number a ring to report where you caught the fish and you get the choice of between a stubby holder or a lure as a thank you. "If you do catch a Macquarie Perch, it would be great if you could record the date, length and place of capture. But be sure to release them as quickly as possible to minimize stress," requested Ms Roszak.

Landholders along these waterways are encouraged to plant native trees and shrubs along the water, control weeds such as blackberries and willows, and to keep stock out of the water through stock exclusion fencing and offering alternative watering points. Activities such as these aims to increase the survival rate of these juvenile fish developing into adulthood.

The Goulburn Broken CMA has staff members available to assist landholders with setting up a management plan for your section of the creek. This can include information and grants for stock exclusion fencing and off-stream watering and also for revegetation and weed control activities. To find out more about the Goulburn Broken CMA and its programs please visit www.gbcma.vic.gov.au or phone 03 5736 1100.

Macquarie Perch with Dorsal Fin tag caught in the King Parrot Creek: Photo courtesy Joanne Kearns ARI