Funding Source: June Canavan Foundation & North East CMA
Timeline: July 2020 – November 2021
Funding received: $12 500 (exc. GST)
The objective of this grant was to expand on our initial pilot program to establish Southern Pygmy Perch in multiple farm dams in the Greta Valley. You can read more about the pilot FISH Program on our website, which involved the translocation of fish from wild populations into four farm dams back in 2018.
This year was a difficult year for the delivery of onground projects, with constantly changing restrictions and real difficulty in securing staff from Melbourne to translocate our treasured Southern Pygmy Perch.
Twenty six sites were nominated for participation in the program. Whilst most of the dams had good aquatic vegetation and secure water supplies, many were in poor condition from their frequent and unrestricted stock access and so these sites were not shortlisted for pre-translocation site assessments. Whilst provision for fencing and revegetation was included in our grant proposal, none of these landholders wished to enhance their farm dams further and so these sites were excluded from the program.
Staff from the Arthur Rylah Institute, Dr Scott Raymond and Jordi Ryall, were able to get to Wangaratta in April 2021 to spend several days assessing possible sites in the Greta Valley. Fifteen sites were visited for pre-translocation site assessments by ARI and Landcare staff to complete visual vegetation assessments and set bait traps and fyke nets. Setting nets overnight helps to determine presence of other aquatic species that may preclude suitable use of the site for Southern Pygmy Perch.
It was then a bit of a waiting game to be able to get ARI staff back up here again. With special permission from DELWP in Melbourne, staff then were able to travel to Regional Victoria and translocate fish in to eight farm dams in September 2021.
The timing of the translocation was perfect, with 2000 very healthy fish collected from farm dam populations and relocated into our eight new sites. Of particular note, was the health and size of the fish taken from our Hansonville site – with measurements of 97mm in length topping the previous maximum recorded size measurements in literature of 85mm! And quite large females carrying a stash of eggs ready for a spring/summer spawning episode. The stock from our refuge dams established in 2018 was both abundant and fecund, suggesting that these dams have an excellent carrying capacity and rich food source for our fish.
Dr Scott Raymond from the Arthur Rylah Institute took us through a great presentation outlining more about the translocation program and the habitat needs, breeding ecology, and threats to the survival of the Southern Pygmy Perch. The Group also presented information about new funding which is available for translocation into sites in 2022.
Video runs for 38 minutes. Recorded 19 November 2021.
We are incredibly grateful for the support offered by our members in support of this project. Without their sites, this project would not be the success that it is! We have included a selection of photos below to demonstrate some of the achievements of our project.
We are extremely grateful for the support of the June Canavan Foundation and the North East CMA in the delivery of this project.
For all enquiries about the FISH in farm dams project, please contact Sally Day on 0437 136 162.