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Small-bodied native fish project

Australia’s small-bodied native freshwater fish populations have dramatically decreased in recent years, with many populations and some species facing extinction. Small-bodied native fish are threatened by habitat loss, particularly loss of aquatic vegetation and changes in hydrology, as well as predation by introduced species such as Redfin Perch and Eastern Gambusia.

In response to priorities identified under the Murray Catchment Action Plan, interest in small native fish from the community, and alignment with investor preferences (Australian Government and Catchment Action NSW), Murray Local Land Services have developed the Small-Bodied Native Fish project.

The project aims to protect, maintain and improve Small-Bodied Native Fish habitat by funding rehabilitation works in key habitat areas within the Murray region.

The current focus of the project is the Southern Pygmy Perch. This species grows up to 8 cm in length, and prefers slow-flowing habitat with vegetation such as streams, lakes, billabongs and other types of wetlands.

Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca australis)

Southern Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca australis). Photo: Luke Pearce

Southern Pygmy Perch were once common throughout southern New South Wales but are now found in only two populations; Spring Creek near Holbrook and Coppabella Creek in the Upper Murray.

These two locations are the focus of works being funded by Murray Local Land Services.

1. Coppabella Creek - Following catastrophic flooding in 2010 and subsequent years, the Southern Pygmy Perch in Coppabella Creek has declined due to changes to the geomorphology and habitat of the stream. To date, works have included weed control, revegetation, and weir repair works. Regular fish monitoring has shown that the Southern Pygmy Perch have increased in numbers and are successfully breeding in Coppabella Creek.

2. Spring Creek, Holbrook – Murray Local Land Services is working with Holbrook Landcare Network to undertake works in Spring Creek to improve Southern Pygmy Perch habitat. A local area management plan is being developed for the species, and works done to date include weed management, erosion management and habitat mapping.

Partners / stakeholders:

NSW DPI Fisheries (Luke Pearce)

Office of Environment and Heritage (Dave Hunter)

Holbrook Landcare (Claire Hockley and Kylie Durant)

Main project partners at Coppabella Creek: David Hunter (OEH), Tara Pitman (MLLS), Steve Thompson (MLLS) and Luke Pearce (Fisheries)

Main project partners at Coppabella Creek: David Hunter (OEH), Tara Pitman (MLLS), Steve Thompson (MLLS) and Luke Pearce (Fisheries)

For more information, please contact:

Tara Pitman
Land Services Officer
Phone (02) 6051 2250

Further information:

MDFRC - Understanding the functional role of habitat structure to predation on Southern Pygmy Perch

Riverspace – Looking after small-bodied native fish in the Murray Region

Finterest – bringing back native fish

NSW Department of Primary Industries  – primefact – Southern Pygmy Perch

MDBA Fish Factsheet: Southern Pygmy Perch

Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme

Logos of Murray Local Land Services, Australian Government and National Landcare Programme

The Small-Bodied Native Fish Project is funded by Catchment Action NSW and the Australian Government's National Landcare Programme.