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Published: 24 February 2009   •   Media release

Community and agency representatives from across the Murray–Darling Basin will inspect a new native fish “demonstration reach” on the Ovens River at Wangaratta this week.

Members of Wangaratta Rural City Council and the new Community Reference Group for the demonstration reach have been invited to join the inspection.

The Ovens River native fish demonstration reach is one of several being established across the Murray-Darling Basin to focus effort in restoring native fish and endangered habitats.

Chair of the Community Stakeholder Taskforce of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Strategy, Mr Adrian Wells of Wodonga, said today that demonstration reaches brought together the very best and latest scientific, management and local knowledge to improve the chances for native fish across the Murray-Darling Basin.

"Several such reaches are being established in each state in the Murray-Darling Basin to demonstrate how pooling resources and effort can have positive outcomes for native fish and communities", Mr Wells said. "The Ovens River reach is one of the newer reaches but has already generated a lot of interest amongst the community including Aboriginal groups", Mr Wells said.

Mr Wells said that the native fish demonstration reaches were part of the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Strategy introduced five years ago to reverse the decline in native fish numbers and river habitats.

"As fish are a strong indicator of river health, the low numbers of native fish were telling us that all was not well with the rivers and wetlands which our communities and industries also rely on", Mr Wells said. "This 50-year strategy has created a great deal of interest and support in the community. It has also attracted significant funds for a range of activities to improve native fish populations and habitats", Mr Wells said.

"This includes more native fish research; building fishways on locks and weirs; managing alien fish; education and awareness material; demonstration reaches; rehabilitating river environments; and improving water quality", Mr Wells said.

"The Ovens River Demonstration Reach will bring together the best knowledge to implement and then showcase the benefits of rehabilitating native fish habitats", Mr Wells said.

The Ovens River Demonstration Reach is particularly important as it runs through a large regional centre and has high visibility and access by the community.

The Ovens River Demonstration Reach is a partnership project between the North East Catchment Management Authority, the Department of Sustainability & Environment, the Arthur Rylah Institute, the Murray–Darling Basin Authority, and the community.

The inspection will take place at the works site on the Ovens River at Wangaratta on Wednesday 25 February at 11.30am. The group will move to the weir on the river at 12.30pm.

Media contact: Sam Leone, phone (02) 6279 0141

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