Many hands make light work of creating Macquarie perch habitat

Fallen limbs and dead trees from a property adjoining Hughes Creek have been used to provide additional shelter in the upstream end of a gorge known to be the creek’s Macquarie perch stronghold.

“The population of Macquarie perch in Hughes Creek is one of the few remaining in Victoria,” Goulburn Broken
Catchment Management Authority (CMA) River Health Officer Christine Glassford said.

“Our aim is to improve habitat that will support and extend the range of Macquarie perch beyond their current,
limited distribution. The ultimate aim is to reconnect this isolated fish population to the Goulburn River to
increase its resilience, particularly in drought.”

The relocated timber was used to create large structures in a stretch of creek adjoining Kulaba West that had
been identified as a priority area for habitat improvement, but had proved hard to access. The works will
provide habitat and improve connectivity between the existing refuge pools known to support Macquarie perch.

Ms Glassford said native fish expert Will Trueman, Arthur Rylah Institute’s Renae Ayres, several members of
Native Fish Australia and Goulburn Broken CMA staff spent the day working with property manager David
Freeman and Gary McLarty to relocate timber sourced from the adjoining land into the creek.

“It was quite an operation,” she said. “David’s tractor and operating skill proved to be invaluable, shifting the
larger pieces of material. Smaller limbs were manoeuvred into log jams by hand, then secured to improve depth
and shelter. Though these smaller pieces are more likely to shift in high flows, such as the one we experienced
after heavy rain on January 3, it is expected they will not move far before getting caught up in the large wood
structures installed downstream.”

A highlight for the hard-working group was spotting a young Macquarie perch and a yabby making use of the
new log jam shelter.

“Having learnt what was possible with man-power and a tractor, we may consider another stage of works in this
remote area in the future,” Ms Glassford said.

“Before doing that we will evaluate the change over time in the creek channel form, particularly the sand
deposits that altered after the recent heavy rainfall and high flow. It will also be very interesting, and hopefully
reaffirming, to see what numbers and size Macquarie perch are collected from these structures during our
autumn fish surveys.”

The GB CMA offers funding support to landholders along the Hughes Creek and its tributaries to undertake
complementary improvement works, such as stock fencing, off-stream watering and revegetation.

“Establishing and protecting riparian vegetation is a critical to the long term recovery of the creek and Macquarie perch, as it stabilises the sand and reduces the amounts moved in high flows. It also provides the instream habitat, food, shade and shelter, needed to support Macquarie perch,” Ms Glassford said.

The Hughes Creek habitat improvement works are explained in more detail in a clip Protecting Macquarie Perch in Hughes Creek that can be viewed on the Goulburn Broken CMA’s YouTube channel.

Anyone interested in getting involved in the project, can contact Christine Glassford on 5797 4400.