The Upper Murrumbidgee River, which is critical habitat for several nationally threatened species including Macquarie perch, Trout cod, Murray cod, Silver perch, Two-spined blackfish, Golden perch, Mountain galaxias and Australian smelt, has lost 90% of all native fish since the European carp settlement.
According to the media release by Bush Heritage Australia, the non-profit conservation organisation dedicated to protecting Australia’s unique animals, plants and their habitats, has launched a new research project on its Scottsdale Reserve 75 km south of Canberra will tackle increasing numbers of common carp in the Upper Murrumbidgee River that are threatening the survival of the endangered native fish.
The project, that is part of Bush Heritage’s involvement in the Upper Murrumbidgee Demonstration Reach (UMDR) Carp Reduction Plan to improve native fish populations and river health, will be conducted with full collaboration from the University of Canberra, NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries and Ecosystems Research, the Invasive Animals CRC, ACT Government’s Conservation, Planning and Research Unit, Upper Murrumbidgee Waterwatch and the Capital Region Fishing Alliance.
Acoustic tagging will be used to determine seasonal migration patterns, population structure and interaction of carp with native species in order to determine the best ways of removing and controlling the species in the upper Murrumbidgee River at Scottsdale and other upstream habitats.
“We hope this work will fill a gap in Australia’s understanding of carp biology and behaviour in upland river systems, and guide new trials for targeted carp removal to better protect our native fish and river habitats,” said Peter Saunders, Bush Heritage’s Healthy Landscape Manager.
“In NSW, carp populations have been moving progressively upstream to the point that we are now seeing them above the Cooma weir, which is prime habitat for endangered fish such as the Macquarie perch,” said Prue McGuffie PhD candidate with the University of Canberra.
New fish trapping techniques at Scottsdale Reserve will also be trialed in order to improve capture and removal of carp so that a significant reduction of their numbers and impact can be achieved.