Recovering Maccas in Victorian Waterways

Macquarie perch, or affectionately known by recfishers as ‘Maccas’, were once abundant and widespread throughout the south-eastern Murray-Darling system. To past generations of fishers, Macquarie perch are very a very well-known species. For many newer fishers, they bring back past memories of fishing during their childhood with their families.

Since the 1950’s, barriers to fish passage, loss of healthy habitat, diseases, pest species and bushfires have all contributed to the mass decline in population. There are now only a handful of self-sustaining wild Macquarie perch populations remaining Australia-wide in isolated and disconnected waterways. As a result, they are sadly now a nationally endangered species.

The North East Catchment Management Authority along with the Victorian Fisheries Authority and other partners have been working hard to recover Macquarie perch populations in the north-east. The 2019-20 summer bushfires had a severe impact on north-east Macca populations through increased sediment in the waterways and loss of riparian habitat.

Late last year, broodstock Macquarie perch were transported via chopper from Lake Dartmouth to the Snobs Creek hatchery for breeding. In recent weeks, the fingerlings have been released into the Cudgewa Creek, King River and Buffalo River giving the Macquarie perch population in the north-east a much-needed boost.

This is exciting news for recfishers in the north-east as Maccas haven’t been abundant in the Cudgewa Creek for almost 100 years. To further enhance the outcomes for Macquarie perch in the region, the project has provided in-stream habitat through installing boulder seeding and timber structures, fencing, revegetation and tree planting.

The Landcare-led recovery effort forms part of the Australian Government’s Bushfire Recovery Grants program for wildlife and habitat. The North East Catchment Management Authority, partnered with the Victorian Fisheries Authority, Upper Murray Landcare Network, Ovens Landcare Network, Taungurung Land & Waters Council, Women in Recreational Fishing Network, Corryong Angling Club and Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning over the course of this project.

The initial collection of broodstock was funded by the Department of Land, Water and Planning’s Bushfire Biodiversity Response and Recovery program which supports on-ground action to help at risk species impacted by the catastrophic 2019-20 bushfires.

Over the past year, the Victorian Fisheries Authority have reported that a record 145,000 Macquarie perch fingerlings were produced at Snobs Creek and stocked across six north-east waterways. This included:

  • 40,000 – Ovens River, below Wangaratta
  • 58,000 – Goulburn River, near Trawool
  • 15,000 – King River
  • 15,000 – Buffalo River, upstream of Nug Nug
  • 15,000 – Cudgewa Creek
  • 2,200 – Lake Dartmouth

Over recent years there have been efforts in Victoria to bring Macquarie perch back from the brink and boost their numbers in our waterways. Stocking and translocating have proven successful in re-establishing Maccas in locations such as the Ovens River where a five-year stocking program was in place from 2013/2014. Prior to this, they were considered locally extinct in the Ovens River. There is now strong evidence that these released fish are now breeding naturally, which is contributing to the re-establishment of a self-sustaining population in the Ovens River that will benefit recreational fishers. 

The Victorian Fisheries Authority have fishing limits in place to further help the recovery of Macquarie perch, including a closed season, minimum size limit and they can only be caught in selected waters. Read the current regulations for Macquarie perch via the Victorian Fisheries Authority website.

VRFish continue to advocate on behalf of Victorian fishers to make fishing better across the state and assist in the recovery of our native fish. This demonstrates the immense value of having a strong and independent peak body. 

If you would like to be part of the Macquarie Perch recovery project, the Victorian Fisheries Authority have a Facebook group that you can join: Mates of Macquarie Perch.

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