Maccas returned to Mannus
By Susanne Watkins
Senior Land Services Officer - Bushfire Recovery Project
P: 02 6051 2234, E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The future of the endangered Macquarie Perch, or ‘Maccas’, in the NSW Upper Murray is looking brighter, with the reintroduction of juvenile and adult fish into Mannus Creek following the 2020 bushfires.
Mannus Creek contains one of 4 remaining populations of Macquarie Perch in NSW Murray Darling Basin and the only population in the NSW Murray region. It is highly significant from a genetics perspective and was the focus of ongoing research and management to secure the population before the January 2020 bushfires. The fires were followed by heavy rainfall, which increased ash, sediment and debris in creeks, and reduced oxygen which devastated waterways and led to fish kills.
In February this year, over 2,000 juvenile Macquarie Perch and several adults were released into Mannus Creek near Tooma by the NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, Charles Sturt University’s Gulbali Institute and Local Land Services. The juveniles were bred by Victorian Fisheries Authority at Snobs Creek. They were released to boost the numbers of Macquarie Perch in Mannus Creek and increase the genetic diversity of the local population.
Luke Pearce, Senior Fisheries Manager - Habitat & Threatened Species Unit at NSW DPI Fisheries, commented on the current condition of the creek, saying, “The system looking in good condition again and at a point where I think we can be confident that it can again support a population of Maccas. There is still lots of work to be done, but I think this is a great little win and a positive step forward.”
Monitoring the Macquarie Perch population in Mannus Creek following the fires led to fears that the population had not survived the harsh conditions. However, recently improved habitat conditions and the discovery of 3 young-of-year have raised hopes that some fish survived and may be successfully breeding. It is hoped that the released fish will successfully breed and significantly boost the population of Macquarie Perch. “Sometimes it feels like a losing battle when we spend weeks and weeks searching for Maccas, but when we step back and look at the bigger picture, we definitely see some wins in the fight to save these fish.” Katie Doyle, CSU’s Postdoctoral Researcher (Fisheries and Water Infrastructure), said.
The road to recovery following the fires has been a long one. However, support from the Federal Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program has allowed Local Land Services to work in close partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, Charles Sturt University’s Gulbali Institute and local landholders to undertake management actions to improve habitat and reduce threats to Macquarie Perch. These actions include removing pest fish, controlling weed species, and surveying habitats.
The return of Macquarie Perch into Mannus Creek is another positive step for the recovery of Maccas in the Mannus.
This project has been made possible thanks to the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Program funding.
The top photo is of Katie Doyle (CSU’s Gulbali Institute) and Susanne Watkins (Local Land Services) releasing juvenile Macquarie Perch into Mannus Creek. Photo: Luke Pearce
The bottom left photo is an adult Macquarie Perch (photo: Luke Pearce), and the bottom right is juvenile Macquarie Perch (photo: Katie Doyle).
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