Larval numbers point to Murray cod, crays recovery

THE blackwater flooding in the Murray River system in 2011 caused a significant loss of fish and crayfish stocks.

But monitoring of the river around the Barmah-Millewa Forest region in the past two seasons has found larval Murray cod and crayfish in areas affected by the blackwater event.

The monitoring has been done by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries’ Arthur Rylah Institute.

Fish ecologist Zeb Tonkin said significant numbers of larvae for both species had been found in 2012 and last year.

“This is an important sign of recovery from two species that were hit hard by the blackwater event,” Mr Tonkin said.

“The larvae were netted drifting down the Murray River out of Barmah-Millewa Forest.

“Drifting larvae is a known dispersal mechanism for the threatened Murray cod and it is an important strategy for population recovery.

“We know a lot about the larval stage of Murray cod, but little is known about this stage of Murray crays, so this is a significant piece of information about this species.”

The institute is monitoring the spawning of large-bodied fish species and crayfish in the Murray River as part of a long-term condition monitoring program The Living Murray.

The Living Murray is a joint initiative funded by the Victorian, NSW, South Australian, ACT and federal governments.

It is being co-ordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.

The Department of Environment and Primary Industries works with a range of agencies to strengthen environmental efforts and ensure better protection.