Get hooked on flows
Five years ago, you would have struggled to find the vulnerable Murray Darling rainbowfish in the Campaspe River. They had never shown up in fish surveys, and when one was caught, it was big news.
As a small-bodied native, the rainbowfish is a critical part of the food chain for other fish, such as the critically endangered silver perch and the iconic Murray cod.
Today, the Murray Darling rainbowfish is the dominant species in the lower Campaspe River, and silver perch have been recorded for the first time in more than a decade. They have also been recorded in strong numbers in the Loddon iver.
On top of this, Murray cod are breeding for the first time in the Campaspe, and golden perch are entering from the Murray River.
Golden perch and silver perch are also responding well to Loddon flows, and they are reaching fertile breeding grounds as a result.
All this is on the back of 10 years of flows aimed at creating the right conditions for native fish to survive and thrive.
“We can’t be happier with the results we are seeing, in both the Campaspe and Loddon,” North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Environmental Flows Project Manager Darren White said.
“The Arthur Rylah Institute, the monitoring arm of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, has been busy monitoring the impact our flows have had on fish populations.
“Environmental flows in the Campaspe, Loddon, Goulburn and Broken Rivers have been subject to long-term monitoring since 2007 as part of the Victorian Environmental Flows Monitoring and Assessment Program (VEFMAP).
“The results are speaking for themselves, especially in terms of critically endangered fish such as silver perch and vulnerable species such as the rainbowfish.”
The North Central CMA is holding a free public forum at Rochester in December to speak with locals about the flows program, and listen to what they have to say about their local fishery.
“No one knows these rivers like the local residents and local anglers,” Mr White said.
“They see the changes in river health first-hand. This is our chance to show them how the healthy river flows are making a difference, and listen to what they have to say about both the Campaspe and the Loddon rivers.”
The Getting Hooked on Flows forum will be held at the Rochester Football Netball Club Social Rooms in Reserve St from 6pm to 9pm on 14 December.
The Victorian Government established VEFMAP to monitor and evaluate the ecological benefit of environmental water use in Victoria. This project is part of a $222 million investment by the Victorian Government 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.