Native Fish Management for the Murray Darling Basin

The initial Native Fish Strategy for the MDB was in place for 10 years from 2003 to 2013 funded by all Basin jurisdictions. Its goal was to rehabilitate native fish communities of the Basin back to 60% of their estimated pre‐European levels after 50 years of implementation. In its first decade (2003–2013), the NFS fundamentally changed fish management in the MDB with major advances in research and management practices.

Some key achievements included the following:

  • Development, testing and implementation of one of the world’s largest fish passage programs from Lake Hume to the Sea.
  • Development of the award‐winning Williams’ Carp Separation Cage, which separates over 80% of adult carp from native fish moving through fishways.
  • Scoping the scale of water infrastructure impacts on native fish and, in close collaboration with the irrigation industry, researching methods to mitigate any impacts.
  • Implementation of seven demonstration reaches covering almost 800 river kilometers and
  • Delivery of more than 100 research projects that was rapidly incorporated into on-the-ground management activities (e.g. design of fishways; alien fish control, environmental watering; emergency drought interventions).

A review of the 2003-2013 Native Fish Strategy was undertaken and found that despite 10 years’ worth of action on engagement we were left with no independent/citizen champions for fish and no community capacity to deliver outcomes for fish.

OzFish is changing that but we have many waterways without OzFish champions. A short update of the review was recently published in the Journal of Ecological Management & Restoration.