Environmental flow to enable breeding boom

Golden perch breeding is set to boom off the back of environmental flows down the Macquarie River. Pictured is Dubbo fisher Wayne Gilbert.

Golden perch breeding is set to boom off the back of environmental flows down the Macquarie River. Pictured is Dubbo fisher Wayne Gilbert.

It looks like our natives have won lotto with an expected environmental flow planned to help kick off some ‘summer lovin’ for golden perch.

DPI Senior Fisheries manager Sam Davis described ‘planet alignment’ to be easier than creating and waiting for the chance to set up many breeding cues for some of the larger species.

“But conditions to get them in the mood and think about chasing girls is looking good, especially after high levels of rain, warmer water and a planned environmental flow,” Davis told Dubbo Catches. 

To help breeding and migration of golden perch, a decision was endorsed by the Environmental Flows Reference Group in August to provide up to two flow pulses.

Environmental flows describe the quantity, timing, and quality of water flows required to sustain freshwater and estuarine ecosystems and human livelihoods that depend on these ecosystems. Water managers strive to achieve a flow that provides for human uses and maintains a healthy river ecosystems. 

Davis said it’s been shown that the species can respond to short, sharp water rises from natural events as an added cue to breed.

“We think the peak of the flow is important as well because flow velocity, or the speed the water is travelling at, may also act as a stimulus.

“More emerging science tells us that our native fish may well be highly responsive and sensitive to those factors and we have taken this into account when designing the flow,” she said.

As a founding member of the Macquarie-Cudgegong Environmental Flow Reference Group, Ms Davis’ role is to represent DPI Fisheries and help advise the NSW Minister for Water about how water should be delivered for many natural water-dependant assets in the valley.

Ms Davis said there are a wide range of interests represented on the group including wetland graziers, irrigators, traditional owners, non-government organisations and state and commonwealth agencies.

“Fish are just one interest in a whole bunch of things we need to consider, so too is marsh wetlands, waterbirds, frogs, trees and the river. We look at how much water is available and prioritise the best we can and that’s not a decision that can be made in haste.”

“It’s tricky stuff trying to get the balance right and feed in all the science and knowledge, but we are giving it our best shot, especially for positive fish outcomes,” she said.

Dubbo Catches invites readers to submit their stories and photos to: Matt Hansen c/- Redden & Hansen Real Estate, 2/27 Bultje Street or email: matt@reddenhansen.

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