The future of the endangered native Eel-tail Catfish (Tandanus tandanus) is looking brighter after efforts by the Deniliquin community to reestablish Catfish populations in the Edward-Wakool system.
Eel-tail Catfish were once prevalent in the Edward-Wakool river system, but are now considered almost locally extinct. The future of these fish within the Edward-Wakool system has been a key concern within the community and local angling groups for some time.
With the Barham Lakes complex at risk of being closed down, the Edward-Wakool Angling Association and the Barham Angling Club recognised the potential ecological value of a resident catfish population present in the Lakes complex. Through Murray Local Land Services and with funding from the National Landcare Program, the Barham Angling Club engaged environmental consultants and NSW fisheries staff to translocate the catfish to other locations. Firstly, population and genetic compatibility testing were undertaken, followed by electro fishing to catch the catfish in the lake. Through this community effort, a total of 46 Eel-tail Catfish were relocated to off-stream sites, along with large numbers of Golden Perch, Silver Perch and Bony Bream. Many hundreds of small bodied native fish were also collected and translocated over the two day exercise.
“I believe one of the most significant aspects was how the project brought together local individuals and groups of all ages and expertise through a shared common interest of improving their local environment” project team member Dan Hutton says.
The fish were relocated to new homes at the Deniliquin Lagoons and Moulamein Lake. The Deniliquin Lagoon system has been redeveloped over the past 7 years to create an area for surrogate populations of native fish including threatened species, as well as to improve water quality and develop a recreational fish park. Project activities have included significant revegetation of native wetland plants, re-snagging works to improve habitat and removal of pest fish such as carp.
“One of the major reasons we started the Deni Lagoons project was to turn it into a threatened species centre and we are continuing this with the relocation of catfish from the Barham Lakes to the Deni Lagoons. We hope they will breed and one day we hope to be able to get catfish back into the Edward River and be able to fish for them again” said John Conallin, Deniliquin lagoons committee member.
The lagoons are a perfect home for the catfish and small bodied native species where they will hopefully breed up, potentially providing important populations for future restocking or relocation. The project has also seen the first native fish introduced into the Deniliquin recreational fishing park.
For more information please contact Josh Campbell at Murray LLS on Josh.Campbell@lls.nsw.gov.au