Native fish rescued as region's rivers dry up and populations die off

TROUBLED WATERS: Crews working to rescue a metre-long Murray Cod from the Peel River this week.
TROUBLED WATERS: Crews working to rescue a metre-long Murray Cod from the Peel River this week.

THE state government has launched a massive operation to save remaining native species in drying NSW regional rivers.

The NSW department of primary industries has lodged concerns about further fish deaths in the Peel River as the drought worsens.

This week, DPI fisheries officers, along with local landholders and volunteers will carrying out fish rescues after more reports of populations dying off.

OzFish North West chapter president Anne Michie told the Leader the first day of the operation was successful.

The first rescues were carried out between Tamworth and Manilla and netted a significant number native fish.

The rescued haul included 16 cod, three yellowbelly and two catfish.

The rescued fish will be sent to a hatchery in Wagga.

Low levels of rain and diminishing flows within rivers persist across most of the NSW Murray-Darling Basin posing significant risks for native fish populations.

The Peel River continues to be put under extreme stress as a result of the ongoing drought and the recent reduction in regular low flows in the river to preserve water supply for critical human water needs, with fish kill events recently reported.

The crews were working in Tamworth on Tuesday and there are plans to carry out more rescues in the Peel, Namoi and Gwydir valleys later this week.

The crews were able to rescue a number of native fish including at least Murray cod which was more than a metre long, as well as some golden perch.

Recent storms and large releases from Chaffey Dam did pose a challenge for the rescuers.

The fish rescued have been relocated to hatchery facilities for use as broodstock to support future local restocking efforts when conditions improve.

The hatchery is currently looking at alternative sites for fish rescues close by on the Manilla River just downstream from Split Rock Dam.

This story Three-day fish rescue operation under way in region's rivers first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.