Endangered Macquarie Perch have been collected from Dartmouth Dam and released into the Upper Buffalo River, near Dandongadale, to help boost the species following the 2019/20 bushfires in north east Victoria.

Four hundred fish were translocated into the Upper Buffalo River following field surveys undertaken last summer which determined that the species had significantly declined.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Biodiversity Recovery Coordinator, Glen Johnson, said, “It’s critical that we take action to ensure its survival because we know that prior to the bushfires the Upper Buffalo River was a key area for the species.

“Transferring a small number of fish from the healthy Dartmouth Dam, combined with earlier fingerling stockings led by the Victorian Fisheries Authority (VFA), is the best way to re-establish fish numbers in the Upper Buffalo River,” Mr Johnson said.

Flash flooding and sediment events post the bushfires seriously threatened the survival of the fish.

Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (ARI), Principal Research Scientist and Section Lead, Dr. Jarod Lyon said, “The majority of fish translocated were smaller in size, reducing any impact to the Dartmouth population. There’s also evidence that translocated wild fish are more resilient to the risk of predation, increasing their chance of survival, compared to hatchery bred fish.

“We have also collected fin clip samples, to help build our understanding of their genetic diversity and guide management options to ensure their ongoing survival,” Dr Lyon said.

The Macquarie Perch is a native freshwater fish found in the cooler areas of the Murray-Darling Basin, which has undergone long-term decline due to a number of factors including loss of habitat, historical overfishing, detrimental regulation of natural river flows and habitat competition and predation by introduced fish such as trout, redfin and other species.

This work is part of an ongoing program to improve the long-term survival of Macquarie Perch in the Buffalo River.

Other works have included emergency fish salvage operations immediately following the fires, breeding programs, Willow eradication and habitat improvement works.

During the last decade, the species has been successfully reintroduced into the nearby Ovens River as part of a collaborative project between DELWP, ARI, the VFA and Taungurung Land and Waters Council with funding support from the Australian Government and North East CMA.

This project forms part of the Victorian Government’s $54.5 million Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program which supports on-ground action to help at risk species impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires.

Page last updated: 13/07/21