Changes to flow, habitat and connectivity are key threatening processes for native fish in Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin. Whist flow management can partially address connectivity and habitat impacts, considerable effort and investment is required to implement complementary measures that address other threats including barriers to fish movement, degraded water quality, invasive species, and habitat loss or fragmentation.
The Murray-Darling Basin Plan is the largest water reform process ever undertaken in Australia. The Basin Plan provides significant opportunities for improving native fish populations, with flow-on benefits for recreational fishing, regional communities, and local economies.
Recreational fishers as a group share a ubiquitous ambition – they want more fish in our rivers. The 430,000 fishers in the Murray-Darling Basin (and many more that visit it to fish) create an industry worth $1.35 billion annually, with substantial contribution to tourism and regional economies. Recreational fishers have an intricate knowledge of their regional waterways and fisheries, and collectively they can provide a great resource for improved management and action.
Managers from the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and NSW DPI Fisheries (with support from State and Commonwealth agencies) have been working with recreational fishers to share and improve each other’s understanding of native fish distribution, the ecological needs of waterways, and the management challenges requiring attention at a Basin scale. Continued collaboration with recreational fishers may help deliver cost-effective complementary measures that address native fish needs such as fixing fish passage, improving aquatic habitat, and managing better water quality. This will in turn contribute to the social and economic outcomes that communities expect from the Murray-Darling Basin Plan.
We will discuss opportunities that effective partnerships with environmental water managers, fish ecologists and recreational fishers can provide to achieve better outcomes for native fish populations across the Murray-Darling Basin.