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Watering win for fish and communities

NATIVE fish are expected to be among the big winners when environmental water is delivered to Hattah Lakes.

Watering win for fish and communities

Fishing on the Murray River

The water will be delivered over the coming weeks to the main creek system, Chalka Creek, to help provide a connection between the River Murray and Hattah Lakes. The water will come from the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.

“This will mean native fish such as Golden Perch and small bodied native fish such as gudgeons will have a chance to move out of the lakes and back into the river,” Mallee CMA Chairperson Sharyon Peart said.

“We know native fish use the lakes as safe refuges to grow, so this watering will provide a great opportunity to ultimately increase native fish stocks in the River Murray.”

Ms Peart said the delivery of environmental water would help improve the environmental and cultural values of local wetlands and creeks and have shared benefits for local communities by encouraging recreational and economic activities.

“Environmental watering strengthens the health and resilience of our local water ways, ensuring their ongoing sustainability, which benefits everyone including recreational anglers, campers and bushwalkers,” she said.

During the watering event monitoring will be undertaken along Chalka Creek to investigate fish movement back into the River Murray.

Hattah Lakes are among a number of creeks and wetlands in the region that are expected to receive environmental water in spring to help improve breeding and feeding habitat for native fish. Other sites include the Lindsay River and Potterwalkagee Creek, with deliveries and volumes dependent on water availability and seasonal conditions.

The environmental water planned for delivery to these sites will be provided through the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH), the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder (CEWH) and The Living Murray program.

The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the New South Wales, Victorian, South Australian, Australian Capital Territory and Commonwealth governments, coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) facilitates the delivery of the environmental water, in partnership with the VEWH and CEWH; the Murray-Darling Basin Authority; the Victorian Government through the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria, and land holders.

Iain Ellis, local fish ecologist, says careful and informed delivery of environmental water to creeks and wetlands in the region can support native fish populations and promote breeding events.

“Environmentally managed creeks and wetlands, can provide crucial habitat for native fish, especially larvae and juveniles. This includes well known species like Murray Cod, freshwater catfish, silver perch and golden perch, less well known small fish like Australian smelt and Rainbowfish and also shrimp – all of which are food for these larger species,” he said.

“After experiencing a dry-spell, getting water into these floodplain habitats can create ideal conditions for young fish to mature. By later providing pulses of additional water at the right time of year, we can potentially draw these fish back into the river which contributes to the maintenance of basin-wide healthy populations of native fish.”

To see a list of the sites planned to receive environmental water during 2015-16 click here.

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