Native Fish Salvage Project

Relocating Native Fish from Irrigation Channels

Native Fish Salvage Project

Relocating Native Fish from Irrigation Channels

Capacity to Deliver

The issue

The Fish Salvage Project was driven from a Watti Watti Wamba Wamba Nation elder who had seen dead and dying fish in the Murray Irrigation limited (MIL) channel system during winter drainage shutdown works. They contacted Western Murray Land Improvement Group (WMLIG) to help with collaboratively planning a project involving indigenous people, recreational fishers, industry and agencies to recue fish and relocate them to local waterways.

The challenge is native fish are trapped in the shallow pools left when water is drained from irrigation channels during the MIL winter maintenance shutdown. The project enabled native fish to be caught and translocated to a local primary habitat, the Wakool River. 

The solution

In 2022, the Edward Wakool Angling Association in collaboration with WMLIG, and three first Nations groups received funding through the NSW recreational Fishing Trust to conduct a pilot project to rescue native fish from the MIL irrigation system during the 2023 winter maintenance program.  

The project funded equipment and resources to salvage the fish and develop project planning protocols that can be used by the community for future fish salvage efforts (see WMLIG Fish Salvage Final Project Report and Tyndynder Homestead (A First Nations Organisation) report,  

A fish transport trailer was acquired from the funding as well as a co-contribution from the Edward Wakool Angling Association so that fish can be safely transported to local waterways for future projects in the future. 

The impact

134 native fish were successfully salvaged from MIL channels at 16 sites across 9 days and relocated to natural waterways. Fish species included 78 Murray Cod, 8 Golden Perch, 4 Silver Perch, 2 Trout Cod, 39 River Blackfish and 2 Murray Crayfish  

The pilot project created the opportunity to foster new relationships, networks and trust building between different stakeholders including recreational fishers, community groups, Traditional Owners, government agencies, and the irrigation industry. 

Key facts

  • 134 Native Fish Salvaged and translocated to a local waterway
  • 6 different Native Fish Species caught, including several threatened species
  • 6 Traditional Owners worked on Country
  • Equipment purchased and project protocols developed for future use and reference.

Project Partners