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Native Fish Week a chance to celebrate healthy rivers

Native Fish Awareness Week (5–12 November) is an opportunity for communities throughout the Murray-Darling Basin to acknowledge the importance of good fish habitats – healthy rivers – to our collective wellbeing.

“Healthy rivers are the lifeblood of rural communities,” said the Australian Conservation Foundation’s healthy ecosystems campaigner Ruchira Talukdar.

“Healthy rivers feed the land, fish, wildlife and people; they are the lifeblood that sustains the nation,” she said.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority says the serious decline in distribution and abundance of native fish species in the Basin since European settlement is mainly due to the loss of habitat. The goal of the Authority’s Native Fish Strategy is to rehabilitate native fish numbers back to 60% of their estimated pre-European settlement levels.

During Native Fish Awareness Week people will be encouraged to get involved in activities like planting trees, removing weeds and putting logs back into waterways, to provide places where native fish can breed and feed.

“Strong rainfall in the Basin over the last 12 months has temporarily increased flows and has led to good breeding conditions for some fish species,” Ms Talukdar said.

“The Congolli, a small-to-medium sized fish native to the Lower Murray, has successfully bred in the Coorong for the first time in four years.

“Huge numbers of Congolli used to migrate down the Murray to breed, but lack of water, due to upstream over-extraction and the prolonged drought, left the Coorong disconnected from the river and females were unable to get to their breeding sites.

“The upcoming Murray-Darling Basin Plan can boost native fish numbers by dealing with the problem of over-extraction and returning adequate flows to Australia’s lifeblood.”

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