Recent surveys of the lower Darling/Baaka River have revealed the good news we’ve been waiting for – Murray cod are breeding.
During spring, NSW DPI Fisheries surveyed the river for signs of fish breeding and found baby Murray cod in the lower Darling/Baaka.
This shows recent releases of water for the environment are doing their job. The flows are helping Murray cod breed and keeping water levels high enough for the fish to build their nests.
With the warm spring creating conditions just right for young fish to thrive, water managers are looking to provide a small increase to environmental flows to the lower Darling/Baaka to maximise dispersal and survival and ultimately help fish populations recover.
Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, Jody Swirepik, said managers of water for the environment are using these great monitoring results to help them make the best decisions possible about when and where to release environmental flows for fish.
‘The lower Darling/Baaka’s native fish were decimated by the drought. We need to keep working with the local community and our delivery partners to do all we can to help fish populations recover with targeted delivery of water for the environment,’Ms Swirepik said.
‘Careful planning of this flow has helped strike the important balance between flows for fish, habitat in Menindee lakes and long-term water security for Menindee and the lower Darling community,’ Ms Swirepik said.
Paula D’Santos from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is managing the environmental flow and monitoring program and said the early detection of baby Murray cod is very encouraging.
‘The monitoring so far has found Murray cod larvae. We are using this information to inform our decision to increase flows to support newly hatched baby fish,’ said Ms D’Santos.
It is hoped the increased flow will also support adult golden perch in the river to spawn and aid the movement of juvenile golden perch that have been found in the Menindee Lakes.
Local school students from Pooncarie and Menindee met with DPI Fisheries and CEWO staff recently to see firsthand how environmental flows are helping native fish. Principal of Pooncarie School, Alison King, said the kids get a real boost when there’s water in the river.
“Spending time out on the river, talking with scientists about the flows and how they are helping native fish gives the kids hope and a sense of pride for their community.”
For more information on the current release of water for the environment in the lower Darling/Baaka River visit: www.environment.gov.au/water/cewo/catchment/baaka-spring-flow-2020
- Approximately nine gigalitres of environmental water has been released into the lower Darling/Baaka since mid‑September 2020.
- DPI Fisheries has been monitoring fish in the lower Darling/Baaka during the flow. While the overall population of Murray cod in the lower Darling/Baaka is low (due to the impacts of fish deaths and cease-to-flow conditions) interim monitoring results have detected good numbers of baby Murray cod, suggesting the environmental flow has supported spawning.
- An extra 17 gigalitres of water will be used to provide more food for the baby fish and provide access to more benches and snags where they can hide.
- This work would not be possible without the collaboration and support of our water delivery partners
- NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (Biodiversity, Conservation and Science)
- NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries,
- NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service,
- The Arthur Rylah Institute,
- WaterNSW and
- Murray-Darling Basin Authority
Left: Fisheries researcher sampling for fish larvae in the lower Darling/Baaka River. Photo: DPI Fisheries; Right: Students from Pooncarie Public School seeing how flows benefit native fish. Photo: David Sikerdick Photography