Community holds key to Basin environment benefits

Murray Darling boon from Basin Plan environment water


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'Captivating' science reveals fishy facts

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A juvenile native trout cod.

A juvenile native trout cod.

POLITICS is a fast running current ever present at the surface of Murray Darling Basin Plan reform, but beneath the surface flows a steady undertow of environment and science achievement.

Basin boffins from a range of disciplines have been building our understanding of Australia’s most significant river system, which has received a renewed focus under the Basin Plan.

Recent work has revealed the significance of the Lower Darling, the Great Darling Anabranch and the Menindee Lakes system as a nursery for population growth and a fish highway crucial to connecting the highly mobile native fish species like golden perch.

Research is revealing secrets of fish spawning and helping river managers time flow events to encourage population growth and the National Carp Control Plan is tackling the feral scourge eating natives out of their homes.

Scientists are also tracking wandering fish, for many hundreds of kilometres, by analysing fish earbones, called otoliths. The tiny bones can be read like tree rings, as every layer denotes the age of the fish, which can be matched to an identifying chemical signature from the water the fish was swimming in at the time.

RecFish South Australia executive member said it is imperative the wider community is clued into our improved understanding of the crucial Murray Darling system.

“By gee, what’s happened with all this good science lately is eye opening. The community must know about this,” Mr Teakle said.

He is helping organise a series of town hall meetings with help from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder and the next will be at Murray Bridge, South Australia.

“The last meeting (at Renmark) we had got over 120 people and they were captivated with the quality of the science,” Mr Teakle said.

The forums are also an opportunity to talk to scientists and river experts. The next meeting will discuss the topic: Fish and flows: why our native fish need a helping hand.

It will be held on October 26 at the Murray Bridge District Community Club from 7pm and the crowd is shaping up to exceed that of the previous meeting. 

Organisers plan to hold more events across the Basin, due to popular demand.

“You might think it’s just another bloody talkfest, but not at all. The people who turned up sat through it all, captivated by it all.”

“Science needs to get into the public domain. That is a hallmark of these fish forums, to communicate the good work to the public and help build confidence.”

Mr Teakle hoped to see the farm community get involved.

Karoola Reach in the Lower Darling. Monitoring of fish populations following environmental water delivery in May 2017.

Karoola Reach in the Lower Darling. Monitoring of fish populations following environmental water delivery in May 2017.

“A lot of people who come from the land are interested in fishing. I used to be on the land myself. Farmers are often interested in birds, bees anything to do with nature and fishing, of course.”

Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder David Papps said the recent success of environmental flows in the Great Darling Anabranch and Lower Darling was a good example of how improved understanding of river management could benefit native fish.

“The more we understand about the things that fish need to reproduce, survive and thrive, the healthier the whole system will be,” Mr Papps said.

“By linking the northern Murray–Darling Basin with flows into South Australia, we created a fish highway right to the Murray Mouth. This was demonstration of the value of strategically delivering water at the right volumes to the right locations, at the right time, for the health of the whole river system.”

Keynote speakers from Commonwealth, NSW and South Australian agencies will also address a range topics at Murray Bridge, including monitoring in the Lower Murray,  the river conditions native fish need and work on the carp herpes virus.

Attendance at the forum is free. Please RSVP to  michellecampbell@environment.gov.au

The story Community holds key to Basin environment benefits first appeared on Farm Online.

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