Current projects on Oxleyan Pygmy Perch

A boost for the endangered Oxleyan Pygmy Perch in the Brunswick Valley

The nationally listed endangered Oxleyan Pygmy Perch received a boost following the commencement of NSW’s first conservation stocking program for the species.

In December 2019 NSW DPI Fisheries rescued 292 of these small freshwater fish from sub-catchments in the Richmond and Clarence River catchments and relocated them to the DPI Fisheries hatchery at Grafton where they formed the backbone of a captive breeding program.

The rescue was a critical action in response to the ongoing threats posed to the species by the severe drought and bushfires of the 19/20 summer period. The fish are considered an ‘insurance population’ used to breed and support the recovery of the species in the wild when conditions improve.

Extensive surveys undertaken by NSW DPI revealed a gap in their distribution in the Brunswick Valley north of Bryon Bay, where although the Oxleyan Pygmy Perch’s preferred habitat was present no fish could be found. This has provided an ideal home for the fingerlings bred at Grafton.

The stocked fish will be monitored over time to determine if the conservation stocking program is successful in establishing a new population and helping to secure the longevity of this uniquely Australian animal.

Oxleyan Pygmy Perch has very specific habitat requirements and generally occur in a small number of swamps, streams and lakes of lowland, coastal wallum health between north-eastern NSW and south-eastern Queensland. Outside of this area it occurs nowhere else in the world, making it one of Australia’s unique but unfortunately highly threatened fauna. Even in areas of their habitat, their distribution is patchy, and they have only been found in a relatively small number of locations in NSW.

The decline of Oxleyan Pygmy Perch has been observed by scientists for many years, with populations becoming increasingly small and fragmented.

As well as drought and bushfires, this small freshwater fish must overcome many other obstacles threatening their survival such as coastal development, habitat degradation, water pollution, competition from introduced species and collection for aquaria.

Over the coming years, Oxleyan Pygmy Perch will continue to be part of a conservation stocking program to increase the species distribution and abundance which is key to their long-term recovery.

This is one small step in a long journey towards recovery of this endangered little fish.

Oxleyan Pygmy Perch Oxleyan Pygmy Perch habitat

Oxleyan Pygmy Perch stocking continues on the North Coast

In November 2022, a further 538 Oxleyan Pygmy Perch were stocked into a wetland in the Brunswick River catchment. These fingerlings have been added to the 780 of this species which were released at the site in 2021 and 2022.

The parents of these fish were rescued and relocated to Grafton Fisheries Centre from the North Coast as part of the NSW Native Fish Drought Response work and bushfire recovery. After a successful breeding season at the hatchery, we’re hopeful that these little guys will establish a new population in the wild.

OPP Stocking Dec 21

OPP Stocking Dec 21

Watch an underwater video of Oxleyan Pygmy Perch being released (23 seconds)

See Oxleyan Pygmy Perch for more information about the species.