|  First Published: December 2006

Native Fish Strategy Update

Some readers would know about the Murray Darling Basin’s Native Fish Strategy that was adopted in May 2003. The Strategy was designed to bring communities and governments together to enhance native fish populations throughout the basin. The Strategy seeks to increase native fish populations to 60% of their estimated pre-European settlement levels over the next 50 years.

The Strategy has 13 objectives that aim to improve native fish populations through six driving actions that include management, research, investigation and community involvement.

The Annual Implementation Report 2004-2005 was released recently and focuses on awareness activities, ‘daughterless carp’ technology, and flow impact on native fish ecology. State governments have made significant progress in implementing the Strategy in areas such as fish passage, habitat rehabilitation, and the maturation of the ‘demonstration reach’ concept. Each State has appointed a Native Fish Strategy Co-ordinator to oversee developments in their respective regions.

At a Freshwater Fisheries Workshop in Miles during October, an update and progress report was presented by Queensland’s co-ordinator. Achievements reported were:

The three Natural Resource Management (NRM) Groups in the Queensland Murray Darling are taking the lead role in implementing the Native Fish Strategy. The coordinator has been working closely with the Queensland Murray Darling Committee (QMDC) and the Condamine Alliance (CA) particularly in the development of demonstration reaches. These are reaches of rivers where a number of management interventions (eg. resnagging) are done to demonstrate a positive impact on native fish communities.

The QMDC are implementing a demonstration reach on the Macintyre River in the Border Rivers region. This is an interstate initiative and they are working with the Border Rivers/Gwydir Catchment Management Authority who will provide between $100,000 and $300,000 for cross border on ground works.

The CA is developing the Condamine River Rescue Project which looks at the rehabilitation of 500km of the Condamine River. The CA received a Commonwealth Recreational Fishing Grant funds for two demonstration sites – one at Archers Crossing on the Condamine River and one at Bowenville Reserve on Oakey Creek at Bowenville. The Oakey Fish Stocking Group is assisting at the Bowenville Reserve site. These demonstration sites will be used to show what activities will be undertaken in the full demonstration reach project.

The coordinator has applied to the Murray Darling Basin Commission for $120,000 in additional funds to assist in the construction of these two reaches. If successful, work will commence on rehabilitation of the fishway on Loudon Weir at Dalby.

The QMDC has committed funding to build a rock ramp fishway on Reilly’s Weir. The DPI Fisheries southern fishway team leader will assist with design and monitoring.

Implementation of the Native Fish Strategy is gathering momentum in Queensland and this should see numerous habitat rehabilitation projects underway in the next few years.

For a full copy of the Annual Implementation Report contact the Queensland Native Fish Strategy Coordinator at DPI Fisheries on 132 523. Les Kowitz, FFSAQ

Freshwater Fisheries Workshop at Miles

A very successful Freshwater Fisheries Workshop was held in Miles on 21 October. This forum focused on Murray Darling issues and attracted stocking groups from across the catchment. Habitat rehabilitation and riverine management were the main topics.

DPI Fisheries provided an update of the past years happenings along with proposed activities for 2007. The most positive announcement was the proposed establishment of a Recreational Fishing Unit within DPI Fisheries. The low water levels caused by the drought were also discussed. New approaches must be identified.

A presentation by FFSAQ outlined how this peak body tries to enhance freshwater fishing in Queensland. FFSAQ identified a number of issues including its future direction. Where do we want to be in 5-10 years and how do we get there. Some form of corporate sponsorship is necessary if we are achieve our objectives.

Brian and Christine Kuhn, both Fishcare Volunteers, reported on the objectives of the Fishcare Program and its achievement to date. Freshwater fishing needs more stalwarts like Brian and Christine.

The coordinator of Queensland Murray Darling Committee, Gavin Prentice, provided a summary of the type of projects that may be applicable for stocking groups to become involved in. The take home message of his presentation was to get involved by becoming part of your closest natural resource planning group and raise natural resource management issues relating to the threats to native fish.

All stocking groups had the opportunity to raise issues of concern to them. Topics included, commercial fishing competition accreditation, the inadequacy of the QBFP, excessive public liability premiums, lack of fish stock monitoring, unsustainable water allocations, the holding over of SIP funds, and junior angler education.

The Workshop was conducted in a manner in which significant interaction prevailed. This no doubt brought out issues in a way that provided healthy debate on the issues. – Les Kowitz, FFSAQ

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