The Campaspe’s summer lovin’
Christmas has come early for the Campaspe River, with a bumper summer recreation season expected on the back of a flow aimed at increasing native fish numbers.
Before European occupation, there were 10 times as many native fish in the Campaspe and other Murray Darling Basin rivers as there are now.
River regulation, the construction of weirs and man-made lakes, and the introduction of pest species, have decimated native fish numbers.
“Without intervention, we expect the numbers of native fish to drop by another 50 per cent in the next 40 years,” North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Project Manager Darren White said.
“In this region, we saw a 93 per cent reduction in the numbers of silver perch, and a 74 per cent drop in golden perch between 1940 and 1990.
“We’ve even seen localised extinction of some native fish species.”
For the past decade, the North Central CMA has been working at providing the right conditions in the Campaspe River to rebuild and restore native fish numbers.
“And all indications are it is working,” Mr White said.
“Since 2014, we have consistently recorded increased numbers of golden perch, Murray cod, Murray River rainbowfish and silver perch in the Campaspe as we manage flows to help the river recover from drought and floods.
“More native fish means more anglers, which means more recreation benefits for locals, and more tourism opportunities for their communities.”
This week’s flow will set the region up for a bumper summer period, with about 15,000 megalitres flowing down the river.
“This flow will signal to golden perch and silver perch that now is a good time to breed,” Mr White said.
“Encouraging spawning now means this summer is going to be a bumper one for the fish and for the river.
“The Campaspe River will be the place to be over summer, with this flow setting the river up for a year of great conditions, weather permitting.”
The flow is part of the Victorian Government’s $222 million investment over the next four years to improve the health of waterways and catchments.
The flows are authorised by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder in line with its Seasonal Watering Plan 2017-18. The VEWH Seasonal Watering Plan 2017-18 is available for download from www.vewh.vic.gov.au, with regular watering updates posted on the North Central CMA website www.nccma.vic.gov.au.