Melbourne Water restoring native fish populations

Tuesday, 08 August, 2023

Melbourne Water restoring native fish populations

Melbourne Water has announced an initiative to revitalise the Dandenong Creek corridor, delivering benefits to protect local waterways and restore native fish habitats.

The Enhancing Our Dandenong Creek Project is part of Melbourne Water’s $15 million investment over 10 years to revitalise billabongs and wetlands along the Dandenong Creek between Heathmont and Dandenong, designed to improve habitat and safeguard vulnerable freshwater fish species along the creek. These species include the threatened Dwarf Galaxais and the Yarra Pygmy Perch.

Multiple restoration actions have taken place to address threats to waterway health and help improve native fish populations in the region. Dandenong Creek has undergone reductions in the distribution and abundance of its native fish populations due to ongoing habitat loss and fragmentation through changes from agriculture and urbanisation, vegetation clearing, introduction of invasive fish and poor water quality.

A multi-agency approach was implemented to restore the fish populations, with actions including aquatic and riparian weed control, wetland revegetation and summer refuge pool creation. This has seen up to 20 habitats along the Creek corridor between Heathmont and Dandenong restored and restocked with native freshwater fish species from dedicated breeding facilities.

A recent stocking program underpinned by scientific research resulted in the successful re-introduction of Dwarf Galaxias in the local wetlands including Jells Park, Yarrabing, Winton and Maroondah Council’s Heathmont Reserve wetland.

Melbourne Water is working in partnership with Middle Creek Aquaculture on a Yarra Pygmy Perch breeding program that aims to reintroduce this species into some habitats next autumn.

“The wellbeing and prosperity of our community depends on healthy waterways and catchments. Yet so many of our most loved rivers, estuaries and wetlands have been degraded over time — we’re changing that,” said Rhys Coleman, Manager Waterways & Wetlands Research.

Further fish monitoring will be undertaken in the summer of 2024.

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