Murray Crayfish population clawing back

27 Jul 2018

Murray Crayfish Credit: Erin Lake

Stage two of the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program has been completed with another 200 Murray Crayfish relocated in the Murray River to more poorly populated areas downstream.

NSW DPI Senior Fisheries Manager – Threatened Species, Dr Trevor Daly said the success of the stocking program bodes well for the future of the vulnerable species and the Murray-Darling Basin ecosystem.

“We started this conservation program last year to safeguard the long-term future of the iconic Murray Crayfish in the Murray River,” Mr Daly said.

“Murray Crayfish were once widespread throughout the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments, however in recent decades they have declined in range and distribution due to a variety of environmental factors.

“These downward trends were further exacerbated by widespread hypoxic blackwater events in 2010 and 2011.

“We’re running this conservation translocation program because Murray Crayfish have very low dispersal abilities and occupy small home-ranges, which means they struggle to recolonise areas where their population has declined.”

A collaborative effort from DPI, Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust and the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust ensured the successful completion of stage two of the stocking program.

The program milestone comes as two men were fined $5,200 for the unlawful use of a wire trap on the Murray River, which they used to take 27 Murray Crayfish including 20 of a prohibited size and six carrying ova.

Murray Crayfish are listed as a threatened species, and may only be taken by the use of up to five hoop nets per person from specified waters between June and August (inclusive).

The daily bag limit is two per person within a 10-12cm size bracket (measured from the rear of the eye socket to the centre of the carapace). Any Murray Crayfish carrying eggs externally or accidentally taken in the closed season must be immediately returned to the water.

Murray Crayfish are a native freshwater species endemic to the Murray-Darling Basin. They are the world’s second largest freshwater crayfish, growing to three kilograms in weight and can be easily identified by their large white claws and spiny green and brown abdomens.

Fishers can obtain a free Murray Crayfish measuring device and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide from DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

Further information on Murray Crayfish is available on DPI’s website.

Media contact: Leesa Ronald 0447 510 397