Hundreds of Murray Cod and Yellowbelly destined to perish in worsening drought conditions have been rescued on the Macquarie River in a joint operation between NSW DPI Fisheries, local landholders, and volunteers of Inland Waterways OzFish Chapter.
Following weeks of preparation assembling specialist equipment under the guidance of expert NSW DPI Fisheries staff, 15 volunteers from Dubbo’s Inland Waterways Ozfish headed out to rescue Murray Cod up to 106cm in length and around 25 years of age, along with scores of Yellowbelly residing in rapidly shrinking pools on the lower regulated Macquarie River.
25 Murray Cod from 70cm up to 106cm were rescued and selected as brood stock, along with 60 Golden Perch.
In total 226 native fish were rescued and relocated. Inland Waterways OzFish volunteers racked up a staggering combined 12, 462 kilometres in making the rescue happen, often shuttling fish between 50 and 100 kilometres at a time.
1,090 volunteer hours were also spent on the rescue, with the committee saying it was one of the most rewarding projects they have ever undertaken.
With plenty of help from numerous landholders, and assisted by specialist DPI staff from Fisheries Compliance, Recreational Fisheries Management, Aquatic Habitat and Fisheries Research, the local Dubbo volunteers used a variety of methods including electro-fishing, netting and line fishing to successfully capture and relocate a substantial number of native fish. The teams also relocated hundreds of freshwater mussels.
The first fish rescued were soon onboard a specialist truck, and headed for the NSW DPI Fisheries Centre in Narrandera where they will be used as brood-stock for future breeding and restocking programs.
The bulk of the Murray Cod and Golden Perch rescued from isolated and drying pools in the Lower Macquarie were relocated by Inland Waterways OzFish teams to sections of the river offering long-term protection, meaning these fish will be able to repopulate the drought-stricken lower Macquarie once the drought finally breaks.
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