Wheat

Rain and cool weather key to native fish health

Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority (CMA) says more rain and cooler weather is the only way to prevent more native fish deaths in the catchment’s creeks.

Goulburn Broken CMA Waterways Manager Mark Turner said 12 dead native fish, including seven endangered Macquarie Perch and five trout cod, had been recorded on the Sevens Creek below Gooram Falls by CMA and Arthur Rylah Institute staff conducting annual fish surveys last week.

The fish deaths are due to the lack of water in the creek due to ongoing dry conditions, not black water or blue green algae.

“Seven Creeks had stopped flowing in parts and the pools below the falls were not connected, making it hard for fish to move to deeper cooler parts of the creek,” Mr Turner said. 

 “We hope the recent heavy falls of up to 80mm recorded in some parts of the catchment, and this week’s lower temperatures, will improve the situation. In the meantime, we worked with staff from Arthur Rylah Institute to move stressed fish to a section of the creek with deeper, cooler pools. Fortunately no dead native fish were found during survey work along the Yea River and King Parrot and Hollands creeks.” 

 Mr Turner said the effects of long spells of hot dry weather were felt most in unregulated streams – waterways without weirs and dams that rely on rain and run-off for flows. 

“Unfortunately, climate change predictions suggest these unregulated streams will dry out more often in the futures,” he said. “Generally native fish and animals are pretty resilient and tend to move to pools or shelter before waterways dry out completely. This is why we continue to work with landholders, agencies and community groups along the catchment’s creeks and rivers to carry out activities such as revegetation and snagging to provide shade and shelter and create deeper, cooler pools for fish to use as refuge during hot dry weather.”

Drying out of regulated waterways, such as the Goulburn River and lower Broken Creek, is less likely as environmental water can be used to maintain flows when water is not being delivered to irrigators and other users.

“We will continue to work with the EPA, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, WaterWatch and water authorities to monitor water conditions in all the catchment’s rivers and creeks and address any problems, where possible,” Mr Turner said.

Members of the community are urged to contact EPA’s Pollution Hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC) if they see large numbers of fish that appear to be dead or struggling.