Funding Source: Tri-State Alliance for Small Bodied Native Fish Recovery
Timeline: April 2022 – May 2023
Funding received: $53 400
The FISH Phase 2 project aimed to extend the previous efforts of the Greta Valley Landcare Group to secure translocated populations of the small native fish Southern Pygmy Perch (SPP) in the region. Previously, the Group had translocated these fish to sites that were considered secure and not at risk of flooding. The objective of this program was to introduce the SPP to dams that potentially would be connected to neighbouring creeks or rivers periodically, to allow for a natural translocation into our local river systems. Farm dam sites selected for inclusion in this program needed to be well connected to the tributaries or main stem of the King River, flood or overflow every 2‑3 years and characterised by good aquatic habitat.
What funding is available for landholders?
Funding is available to assist with:
- Fencing to enable the establishment of native vegetation, develop a buffer zone to improve water quality and help maintain ground cover for erosion control. We have funding to support fencing of 8 farm dams. The fencing rebate is $6/m.
- Revegetation using native shrubs and trees. We have 2000 native tube stock available for planting around farm dams. Cardboard guards will be supplied to protect plants. The landholder will be required to contribute $0.50/unit for the plants.
- Offstream watering is available for farm dams being fenced under the program. Rebates are capped at $2000/site.
Fencing and planting must be completed by the end of August 2022. Download an application form. Completed application forms can be emailed to Sally Day at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Depending on the level of interest, we may not be able to fund all sites. Proposed sites will be assessed and we will do what we can to help as many members as possible in a fair manner. We will advise you if we can’t fund your site. Read more about the grant application process.
Six sites were selected for the project at various site around the local catchment – Megan Callus, Greta South; Andrew Briggs, Glenrowan; Arthur Parker, Oxley; Kylie Topal, Cheshunt; Craig Stevenson, Upper Lurg and Peter Shanley, Moyhu. Each of these sites required different enhancements to make them suitable for homing our native fish, including construction of fencing and offstream water, revegetation of native trees and shrubs and movement of large wood to sites. SPP were translocated to these sites in October 2022.
An opportunity also arose during the project to become the custodians and care for a rescued population of Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon (SPSG) from North West Victoria. These fish were rescued from a lake during the flooding near Mildura in winter 2022 and cared for at Snobbs Creek Hatchery until a suitable translocation site could be found in our local area. The Group put a call out to landholders in the King catchment for suitable farm dam sites for these fish. Five sites were then assessed for their suitability as secure sites for the SPSG. The site with the most secure hydrological conditions and best instream habitat was the site at Hansonville and the SPSG were translocated from Snobbs Creek to Hansonville in March 2023.
Involvement of the community is central to the success of our program. ARI staff presented the findings of recent follow up monitoring in our local area and provided an update on the directions of research for small bodied native fish at an evening event in Moyhu on 28 November 2023. At this event, all landholders involved in this program and previous translocations were recognised and thanked by the presentation of a gate sign for their property. We would like to thank ARI staff for their technical capacity for the delivery of this project.
A selection of photos from this program are included below, please hover over photos for captions.
The funding from this project helped us to deliver:
– 590m of fencing to protect one farm dam (all other sites were fenced using other project funding or were already fenced).
– 940 native shrubs were planted across five sites (with one site revegetated with other concurrent project funding).
– Offstream watering was installed at fours sites, with stock watering not required at the other two sites.
– Southern Pygmy Perch (SPP) were translocated to five sites from existing breeding sites in the catchment.
– Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon (SPSG) were translocated to one site from a rescued population from near Mildura. An additional four sites have been pre-sampled for aquatic vegetation quality to ascertain their suitability for SPSG.
– One landholder moved timber to their site during the construction of their offstream watering. No other landholders had suitable timber nearby for relocation prior to fencing, or the sites contained existing timber.
– Conservation gate signs were developed by a local sign writer for both species and have been supplied to all landholders that have participated in the protection of SPP and SPSG since 2018.
– ARI revisited 7 sites to monitor them 1-2 years post translocation to assess abundance and potential recruitment.
– A community education and information session was held in Moyhu to update participating landholders on the progress of the overall translocation program; discuss results of recent monitoring by ARI; and provide an indication of the future of the program overall.
What are the barriers/challenges to implementation?
We believe that the biggest challenge to using farm dams to secure threatened populations of small bodied native fish is due to natural weather conditions and the regularly changing hydrologic conditions in each of the farm dam sites. Depending on their location in the catchment, we have sites that range from spring fed (secure), through to those located on the floodplain of a major river (risky). The level of risk we are prepared to accept depends on: total number of translocation sites for each species; how many secure sites we have and their breeding capacity; how many fish we are prepared to lose to the local river system during flood events (natural seeding of populations); cost associated with monitoring and translocation of additional fish to top-up existing sites.
Recent follow up monitoring of sites from 2021 revealed that Weatherloach had moved into one dam (aquarium species), floods had mostly swept SPP from two sites and another excellent site had been overtaken by algae. All four of these sites were, what we thought upon initial translocations, A-list sites where our fish would breed prolifically! And yet we had been thrown a curve ball. Without monitoring we would have had no idea of the trajectory these sites were on. Follow up monitoring also allows us to make assessments of the health of the remaining population, whether active intervention is required to change the conditions or whether top-up translocations were required at the site.
Please call Sally Day (Project Officer) on 0437 136 162 or Penny Raleigh (Ovens Landcare Facilitator) on 0427 613 970 for more information.
This project is supported by the North East CMA through the Tri-State Alliance for Small Bodied Native Fish Recovery program