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Published: 27 February 2018   •   Media release

A coordinated flow in the Goulburn River is helping fish to get moving while also meeting downstream irrigation and environmental demands.

The water is being released to meet inter valley trade requests but river managers are also using the water to signal to young native fish in the River Murray to move upstream and into smaller streams.

Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Executive Director Environmental Management, Carl Binning, said delivering flows to increase fish movement was one of the Basin-wide annual watering priorities.

"It makes sense for us to try to achieve two benefits for the price of one when we need to move water for customers," Mr Binning said.

"This is an example of running the rivers to benefit irrigators and the environment—not a benefit to one or the other.

"We set Basin-wide priorities to use water for the environment to achieve long-term benefits for species such as golden perch and silver perch.

"These priorities reflect the most recent scientific understanding and concepts. For golden perch and silver perch, this includes the latest thinking around system-wide flows and the connectivity needed to help these fish thrive.

"Increased flows at this time of year can signal to young fish in the River Murray that it is time to move upstream and into smaller streams where there is food and shelter.

"Similar flows also occurred in both the Goulburn and Campaspe Rivers during late February 2017, which led to fish moving upstream in the Murray and into tributary streams.

"Around 70 per cent of the fish that moved into a tributary last year remained there, and surveys also found increased catches of silver perch in the Goulburn and Campaspe Rivers in the months that followed—a good result for recreational fishers too."

Researchers will monitor native fish responses to the current flows in the coming months. For example, a number of silver perch and golden perch have been tagged with radio transmitters by scientists from the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, as part of MDBA and Victorian Government funded monitoring projects.

Work to improve fish movement in the Goulburn River has seen active collaboration across agencies and river operators, including the MDBA, Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Authority and Goulburn–Murray Water.

The coordinated flow was actioned by river operators from the MDBA and Goulburn–Murray Water.


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