Historic Macquarie Perch stocking of the Mongarlowe River

21 Mar 2024

Macquarie Perch being stocked into the Mongarlowe River

The Mongarlowe River near Braidwood has been stocked with adult Macquarie Perch for the first time in 130 years.

The historic stocking of a small number of adult fish is the first in a number of planned stocking events to boost the numbers and genetic diversity of the endangered Macquarie Perch in the Mongarlowe River.

The Friends of the Mongarlowe River group raised the alarm about declining Mongarlowe Macquarie Perch which prompted Local Land Services and DPI Fisheries to partner on a project funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program to bring back the Macca to the Mongarlowe River.

Macquarie Perch were first translocated to the Mongarlowe River from the Murray-Darling system in the late 1800s. The population developed into a highly productive self-sustaining fishery, until it began to sharply decline for unknown reasons in around the 1970s. Today, with the severe decline of Macquarie Perch across its natural range in the Murray-Darling Basin, a river like the Mongarlowe River poses great opportunity as a refuge.

Senior Fisheries Manager Luke Pearce said the population had become one of the critical remaining populations of Macquarie Perch left in NSW, with declines being experienced across entire range of the species.

“The Mongarlowe River Maccas are now an important insurance population. We hope to be able to build the numbers back up through slowly increasing the genetic diversity by bringing in fish from different areas such as the Murrumbidgee River and Cataract Dam, where similar stocking events were undertaken in the early 1900s,” Mr Pearce said.

“These Maccas were translocated from the Murrumbidgee River in the 1880s and thrived in the pristine conditions of the Mongarlowe.

“Cataract Dam currently has an abundant and functioning population of Macquarie Perch that have now become an important resource for supplementing other populations in NSW.

“The Reaching for Recovery project also supported the translocation of a few hundred fish from Cataract Dam to the Murrumbidgee River at Cooma for the last three years, to bring in new genetics for the Macquarie Perch population there.

The community in Cooma were excited to welcome the Cataract Dam Macquarie Perch, which local school students took part in releasing.

“It’s always great to see our local communities getting involved in the work our teams do to conserve threatened species like the Macca,” Mr Pearce said.

Macquarie Perch is listed as an endangered species so targeting them is illegal. If any Macquarie Perch are caught incidentally, they must be promptly returned to the water. Any incidental captures or sightings can be reported at the Threatened Species Reporting Form online, which will help DPI Fisheries to continue to manage the population.

The goal of the recovery program for Macquarie Perch is to improve populations so that a sustainable fishery can once again flourish for this unique and amazing fish.

To log a sighting go to https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/threatened-species/report-it

Media contact: 02 6391 3686