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Edward-Wakool Angling Association assists with monitoring program

Members from EWAA recently fished the Edward River to assess native fish populations in the Edward-Wakool system.

ZOE MCMAUGH January 22, 2014 4:35am

John Conallin and Ian Fisher.


The Edward-Wakool Angling Association is working closely with the Murray Local Lands Services and Narrandera Fisheries Centre to assess native fish populations in the Edward-Wakool system in different areas affected by the 2010-11 hypoxic blackwater events.

Members from EWAA recently fished the Edward River downstream of Stevens Weir and the upper Edward above Deniliquin using recreational fishing techniques.

EWAA president Ian Fisher said the team caught good numbers of Murray Cod ranging from 28cm to 85cm, multiple silver perch, and a few carp over two days fishing, using a number of recreational fishing techniques.

‘‘It’s great to see the Edward River in such a good condition for Murray Cod,’’ he said.

‘‘But we know that areas like the mid and lower Wakool and Niemur Rivers are still struggling, and we need to concentrate more efforts there - we will be monitoring these areas as well later to assess their recovery.’’

EWAA public relations officer Troy Bright said the group had been working with the LLS, formerly the Murray Catchment Management Authority, for three years on the ‘Fish and Flows’ project and the blackwater restocking program.

‘‘I think this really shows the strength of working with community groups to gather valuable data for better management of our local native fish populations,’’ Mr Bright said.

‘‘We targeted the areas where hypoxic blackwater had occurred to complement the other LLS ‘Fish and Flows’ project monitoring that is continuing there.

‘‘We were really happy to get such a range of different sizes in the cod, showing that large fish had survived and they were breeding again in the Edward.’’

Helping Mr Fisher and Mr Bright with the project last week was local scientist Dr John Conallin, who is back in Deniliquin from Africa for a short break.

Dr Conallin helped design how the sampling was conducted so data could be used in the ‘Fish and Flows’ project.

‘‘Recreational fishing data is very valuable and a great input into decision making for native fish,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s also a great way to involve local communities in the monitoring and decision making, and start to involve locals.

‘‘I actually monitor, from Africa, the local Deniliquin Fishing Facebook page to see what is being caught.

‘‘I have already picked up three trout cod catches, which are very rare in this area.

‘‘We knew they were in the system but had not picked them up with other sampling techniques, so this is very valuable data.

‘‘From a scientific point of view I was very pleased with the results.

‘‘There was a whole range of age classes, the fish were in excellent condition, the habitat was in great condition and flows were very adequate.

‘‘We know the middle and lower sections of the system have still not recovered but the populations of Murray Cod in the Edward are good, and will help dispersal into other areas.’’

Both the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office and state agencies have been working since the hypoxic blackwater to provide breeding and movement flows specifically targeting Murray Cod which were significantly affected by the blackwater.

The addition of recreational fishing data to the ‘Fish and Flows’ project will help in managing native fish in the system.

EWAA is now talking to the Commonwealth Environmental Water Office, Murray LLS and Narrandera Fisheries Centre about further including themselves in the monitoring programs within the system, and other opportunities to engage with local communities to be involved in the decision making.

For further information on EWAA contact Troy Bright on 0428815169.

For further information on the Edward-Wakool Fish and Flows project, contact Anthony Conallin on (02)60512200 or visit http://murray.cma.nsw.gov.au/edward-wakool-project.

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