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New life for native fish

Steve Thompson (Murray Local Land Services), Kane Hawkins and Chloe Matto (Rosewood Public School), Luke Pearce (Fisheries) with the tank of new fish for the classroom.Rosewood Public School, near Tumbarumba, welcomed some new members to the school community this month when six native southern pygmy perch arrived to live in a classroom tank.

These little fish are a rare, threatened species, but they are found in certain creeks around Tumbarumba.

The classroom display is part of a larger project to improve the habitat for southern pygmy perch in the Coppabella and Upper Billabong creeks, where they still occur naturally.

The project is a partnership between Murray Local Land Services, NSW DPI Fisheries and Wirraminna Environmental Education Centre. It is supported by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and Catchment Action NSW.

The school was given a tank fitted out to suit these little fish, with snags, aquatic plants and suitable food, so the children can feed and look after their new fishy friends. The fish have been bred in captivity so they are suitable for tank life. The students will have support from Wirraminna, which also has southern pygmy perch at Burrumbuttock and conducts the Creative Catchment Kids environmental education program across the Murray region.

Southern pygmy perch specialist with NSW DPI Fisheries, Luke Pearce, spoke to the students about the special role of the fish and how they fit into the landscape around Tumbarumba and Holbrook. The students also learnt the significance of National Threatened Species Day, held annually on 7 September.

Each student was presented with a book about southern pygmy perch written by students at Edward Public School in Deniliquin and Walla Walla Public School, as part of the Creative Catchment Kids program.

Rosewood Public School teacher, Cameron Bremner, said the students had been looking forward to receiving their fish, and were grateful to learn more about this special creature found in the wild not far from the school.

“It’s a great way for the students to learn in a hands-on way about native fish and their role in the local environment,” he said.

“It captures their interest in a very practical way and helps them to realise that they too can play a part in looking after the environment.

“The fish are already settling into their new home and being well looked after.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Matt Lane, 02 6051 2252, matt.lane@lls.nsw.gov.au