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Endangered southern pygmy perch are on the move

Endangered southern pygmy perch have been found further upstream than ever before in Coppabella Creek, north of Jingellic, suggesting that rehabilitation of the site has provided suitable habitat conditions for the fish.

The expanded population was discovered during Southern pygmy perchroutine monitoring of the creek last month by Local Land Services, forestry and other government agencies.

One of the project team, Luke Pearce, from the NSW Department of Primary Industries, said the find was a great outcome for the southern pygmy perch population in Coppabella Creek. Not only have the fish been found further upstream than ever before, their population is the highest that has been recorded since they were almost wiped out during the devastating floods in 2010.

“Their distribution has increased upstream by approximately 4 km, and the fact that juvenile fish were recorded suggests that they are breeding,” he said.

The exciting discovery is a result of critical conservation work undertaken by local landholders and Forestry, with support from Murray Local Land Services, to rehabilitate southern pygmy perch habitat along Coppabella Creek.

Dallas Goldspink, from forestry management firm PF Olsen Australia, said they were happy to be on board with the project to assist with weed control and other rehabilitation processes.

“We are excited to hear that southern pygmy perch have moved into some of the rehabilitated sites managed by PF Olsen Australia,” he said.

Southern pygmy perch is a small fish that grows up to 8 cm long. It was once common throughout southern NSW but is now only found in three locations in NSW:  tributaries of the upper Billabong Creek near Holbrook Blakney Creek near Borrowa and Coppabella Creek near Jingellic. Coppabella Creek is also home to the endangered Booroolong frog.

Murray Local Land Services and its partners are working together to reduce threats to key habitat areas. This includes controlling blackberries and willows, which often shade out the creek system, making it difficult for aquatic plants, essential for the southern pygmy perch’s survival, to grow. Willows are also controlled in this system to reduce the tree root ball mass in rocky crevices that are used by the threatened Booroolong frog.

Murray Local Land Services project manager, Tara Pitman, said funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, Catchment Action NSW and Environmental Trust Saving our Species projects had supported the works to date.
Those works include weed control, creek fencing, revegetation and pest control, but the project relies on the continuous support of landholders and Forestry.

“Follow-up spraying of weeds, sediment control, grazing management and pest control will ensure these endangered species have the best chance of survival,” Ms Pitman said.

Media enquiries: Matt Lane, Communications, 02 6051 2252, 0427 459 755