Country News

Plan to protect native fish this summer

By Country News

Murray–Darling Basin governments have joined together to commit to the new Native Fish Emergency Response Plan to respond to fish deaths this summer.

Murray-Darling Basin Advisory Committee on Social, Economic and Environmental Sciences chair Rob Vertessy said drought conditions would lead to more fish death events to occur this summer.

Professor Vertessy chaired the independent panel on fish deaths of 2018-19 in the lower Darling River, and released a report in March with 27 recommendations.

The new plan will provide state governments with access to federal funding assistance and will have basin governments work together to prepare risk assessments, establish early warning systems and develop emergency response plans.

“Since our report was handed down in March, governments have responded by increasing their focus on water quality monitoring, aeration, use of environmental water and relocation for critical species,” Prof Vertessy said.

Environmental water holders have been using the little water they have on fish refuges and watering holes.

The NSW Government has installed aerators through the lower Darling and has conducted a major program to relocate fish and move them out of high-risk areas.

Prof Vertessy said he was pleased to see the government protecting these important species.

“Our native fish species — including the Murray cod, golden perch and silver perch — are all iconic Australian fish, important to our river environment and our basin communities.”

The Native Fish Emergency Response Plan is available at: www.mdba.gov.au/native-fish-plan

More information about ACSEES is available at: www.mdba.gov.au/about-us/governance/advisory-committee-social-economic-environmental-sciences