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Fishy revival in Victoria

More than 1,000 fingerlings have been released across Victoria and southern New South Wales as part of a breeding program to help restore a once extinct native fish.
Published: 21 December 2021

The southern purple-spotted gudgeon, a small colourful native fish, was declared extinct in Victoria in 1998 but was rediscovered in Third Reedy Lake, near Kerang in late 2019.

After its discovery, the North Central Catchment Management Authority established a breeding program funded through the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning’s Icon Species Grant program to further assist in the recovery of the species. Thanks to the program the fish have now been released in 4 public and private locations in Mildura, Bendigo, Axedale, Loddon Vale and Deniliquin.

The Tri-State Alliance, funded under the Murray–Darling Basin Authority (MDBA) Native Fish Recovery Strategy, will continue the breeding and release program for 2022.

Tri-State Alliance Recovery Reach Coordinator, Peter Rose said the existence of southern purple-spotted gudgeon tells us positive things about the health of the wetland and waterway. Although they are easy to breed in captivity, they need healthy habitat to survive and recruit. It is hoped that through the program they will once again become a natural part of the Murray corridor.

“They are also an important part of the food chain. We really need to bring back these fish for their role in the ecosystem,” Mr Rose said.

The southern purple-spotted gudgeon breeding program took place at Middle Creek Farm in Victoria and Glenelg Nature Trust in South Australia.

It is hoped that the fish will take well to their 4 new habitats and these locations may become natural hatcheries in the future.

“The habitats they have been released into are ideal for surviving and breeding so there is no reason they shouldn’t absolutely boom. This project is about establishing the fish in other locations to mitigate the risk of their extinction,” Mr Rose said.

In total 1,500 southern purple-spotted gudgeon have been released across Victoria and southern New South Wales. If further funding becomes available, the Tri-Sate Alliance will look to establish another 2 purple-spotted gudgeon release sites.

Mr Rose recognised the support of private landholders and other agencies including:

  • the First People of the Millewa Mallee
  • New South Wales Department of Primary Industries – Fisheries
  • Mallee Catchment Management Authority
  • Austral Research and Consulting
  • Native Fish Australia
  • Australia New Guinea Fishes Association
  • OzFish
  • Mildura Rural City Council
  • Greater Bendigo City Council.

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