Current threatened species projects

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is involved in numerous research, conservation management and habitat restoration projects which contribute to the well being of threatened species.

Here you will find some information on some of the programs that the Department is running or is contributing to. Other organisations such as local councils, local land services, universities, fishing groups, landholders and conservation groups are also critical to the delivery of some of these programs.

If you are involved in threatened species management or research, or have an idea of a local project that you would like to tell the Department about, we would like to hear from you! Please send us an email to fisheries.threatenedspecies@dpi.nsw.gov.au

February 2020

Threatened fish relocated and rescued across NSW.

In the lead up to the horror summer for fish in NSW, DPI Fisheries was actively preparing to save some of Australia’s most threatened fish species.

Multiple fish rescues and relocations have been a major part of the DPI Fisheries response to record breaking drought, bushfires and floods, with more than 5000 native freshwater fish collected from all corners of the state since operations began – including over 2000 fish that are threatened species.

DPI Staff setting nets for Olive Perchlet Insurance Population

Rescues have taken place so far in the Gwydir, Border Rivers, Macquarie, Murrumbidgee, Lachlan, and Upper Murray catchments in the Murray-Darling Basin, and in the Clarence and Richmond River catchments on the coast

Threatened species within these catchments have been particularly vulnerable to ongoing dry conditions, further exacerbated by the impacts of bushfires and flooding.

Insurance populations for several species have been collected and held at NSW DPI Fisheries hatcheries across the state. Those kept in captivity will help provide the genetic diversity required to establish a captive breeding program that will act as an insurance policy for when conditions improve and their offspring can be released back into the wild.

NSW DPI hatcheries in Port Stephens, Grafton, and Narrandera, as well as facilities at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, have been mobilised as part of the threatened species rescue program, with a combination of tanks and open ponds set up specifically to house these fish.

Pond at Narrandera

Macquarie perch

One of the few remaining populations of the endangered Macquarie Perch in NSW was hit hard after an intense bushfire passed through Mannus Creek in the NSW upper Murray catchment. A small number of fish were taken to Narrandera Fisheries Centre where they are being cared for while the system recovers.

Macquarie Perch rescued from Mannus Creek

Southern Pygmy Perch

Southern Pygmy Perch

Rescues for two populations of Southern Pygmy Perch (Murray and Lachlan) will establish two separate insurance populations in hatcheries in NSW and Victoria. A rescue mission in December 2019 secured the Blakney Creek population, as the creek was reduced to a series of isolated pools. A small number were also relocated to a secure pool in the same system.

You can watch a video of this rescue here:  

Earlier in the year an insurance population of from Coppabella Creek was collected to secure the Southern Pygmy Perch from the upper Murray River catchment.

Southern Pygmy Perch in survey net

Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon

Several rescue missions to collect Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeons have been carried out, with many fish rescued just in time as smaller creeks dried out across the species range.  Populations in the Border Rivers, Gwydir and Macquarie River catchments were targeted for urgent rescues, with small collections now being held in Grafton Fisheries Centre and at Taronga Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo.

A rescued Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon

Eastern Freshwater Cod

An insurance population of Eastern Freshwater Cod from the Nymbodia-Mann catchment was secured in local dams and at the Grafton Fisheries Centre.

Further surveys and potential rescues are currently being planned to ensure that this important species is protected, following devastating impacts of drought and bushfires throughout its range.

A rescued Eastern Freshwater Cod

Olive Perchlet

This small fish also known as Agassizii’s Glassfish has been rescued from a number of drying waterways in the Murray Darling Basin. A collection of Olive Perchlet were successfully rescued from the Tenterfield/Borders Rivers area as part of drought rescue operations between October 2019 and February 2020. These fish were taken to the DPI Fisheries hatchery at Grafton to set up a captive breeding insurance population for re-release once the drought breaks. A separate population of Olive Perchlet from the Macquarie River catchment was also collected and is being kept safe at Narrandera Fisheries Centre.

Olive Perchlets rescued

Oxleyan Pygmy Perch

Habitat for this coastal species in the Clarence River catchment was extensively burnt in November and December 2019 when fires burnt through Bundjalung National Park and parts of Yuraygir National Park.

With their limited distribution, rarity and dependence on specific habitats OPP are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of bushfire.

A population of this species was collected in December 2019. The fish were relocated to Grafton Fisheries Centre as an insurance population in the event of significant losses from the wild.

DPI Scientists surveying for Oxleyan Pygmy Perch

Stocky Galaxias

Following devastating fires in Kosciuszko National Park, a rescue of the critically endangered Stocky Galaxias was successfully carried out ahead of a heavy rainfall event which could have resulted in a fish kill event. In partnership with experts on the species – Assoc. Prof Mark Lintermans and PhD candidate Hugh Allen, DPI Fisheries and National Parks and Wildlife Services led a rescue expedition to the small area of Tantangara Creek where this species is found. A small population is now being kept safe at Gaden Fisheries Centre.

Stocky Galaxias in aquarium tanks at Gaden Fisheries Centre

Scientists in the field searching for Stocky Galaxids

November 2018

An exciting and much-needed initiative has just commenced on the NSW Southern Highlands to extend a helping hand to one of Australia’s most threatened aquatic species.

South East Local Land Services and NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, with support from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, have joined forces to work toward securing the future of a critically endangered native spiny crayfish.

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is naturally very rare, having been identified as only occurring within a 12km stretch of creek in the Southern Highlands.

Recent surveys found that the crayfish seem to have drastically declined in numbers, likely due to the current dry conditions, however the cumulative impacts of predation by carp and yabbies, trampling by livestock and the loss of cooling vegetation on the water’s edge have made it very hard for them to get through stressful events like drought.

The new 12 month project is now underway and the community is invited to get on board and learn more about this ancient crustacean and others like it.

Significant support is now available to land managers with property adjacent to key habitat. Funding for important farm infrastructure such as riparian fencing to exclude stock from the waterways and the installation off-stream watering systems will in-turn provide much cleaner and accessible water quality for livestock, as well as protecting the creek from trampling. Planting some tough local species along the creekline will encourage bank stability, keep the aquatic food-web cycling and improve water quality to support the crays. This is a big opportunity to work with Local Land Services to be a key part of securing the future of this unique spiny cray.

A raft of other exciting activities are proposed that the broader community can get involved in to show their support for this rare and intriguing species - an icon of the Southern Highlands area. These include public artwork, school visits, public talks and information days to share knowledge with the local community.

For more information or to get involved, send an email to fisheries.threatenedspecies@dpi.nsw.gov.au

November 2018

An endangered freshwater fish has made a return to River Murray waters in New South Wales for the first time in more than 10 years under a new project to help save it from extinction. The Murray Hardyhead is a small fish (up to 9cm long) with an amazing ability to tolerate saline water. It has been listed as critically endangered in since 1999 and has not been seen in NSW for more than a decade. It currently survives in just a handful of places in northern Victoria, and in the Riverland and Lower Lakes in South Australia.

But a new project has relocated a small population from South Australia’s Riverland to an environmentally-watered wetland in far western NSW. Nearly 1,000 Murray Hardyhead were successfully collected from South Australia and released into NSW with the hope that they will establish a population in NSW waters. The first follow-up monitoring event to determine the initial success of the translocation will be undertaken in December with monitoring to continue during 2019.

The relocation is a joint project involving the Commonwealth Government, the NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, Western Local Land Services, the SA Department of Environment and Water, Aquasave - Nature Glenelg Trust, the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group, and the owners of the Wingillie Station in western NSW. Wingillie Station is owned by the Hazel L Henry Farmland Nature Refuges Trust, which has been working with the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group and Commonwealth Environment Water Office for several years to improve the condition of the floodplain and wetland habitats across the station. The generous support and assistance from the Trust has been critical in the success of the project.

July 2018

Stage two of a Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program has been completed with over 200 Murray Crayfish relocated in the Murray River to more poorly populated areas downstream.

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. 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.

Continued monitoring will be undertaken to determine the success of the project.

The translocation project is a collaborative project with DPI and Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust, with funding support from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust.

See Murray Crayfish for more information.

May 2018

DPI is continuing its conservation stocking program for Silver Perch and Trout Cod in NSW, with fish produced at the Narrandera Fish Hatchery. Between 2016 and 2018 a total of 120,000 Silver Perch fingerlings were released into the Namoi River between Gunnedah and Narrabri. Between 2015 and 2017 over 46,000 Trout Cod were released into the Upper Macquarie River.

See Silver Perch and Trout Cod for more information.

July 2017

A two year Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program commenced, with 200 Murray Crayfish being moved from an area where they are abundant to a site downstream in the Murray River which has suffered a significant decline in the local population.

Murray Crayfish are an iconic Australian species and are an essential part of the Murray Darling Basin ecosystem. They were once widespread throughout the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments however have declined in range and distribution due to a range of environment factors, including a widespread hypoxic blackwater event which occurred during 2010 and 2011. As a result, Murray Crayfish are now listed as ‘vulnerable’ in NSW.

This is the first time a stocking program to boost the population of Murray Crayfish has been conducted in the Murray River in NSW. Another 200 Murray Crayfish will be released to the site next year along with continued monitoring to determine the success of the project.

The translocation project is being run by DPI in collaboration with Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust, the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and local fishing clubs

See Murray Crayfish for more information, including a video of the project courtesy of ABC.

May 2017

DPI Research staff confirmed that Macquarie Perch in a waterway near Oberon are breeding. This has confirmed that our conservation stocking of over 19,000 captive bred fish have established a new breeding population of the species in NSW. Surveys also confirmed that Macquarie Perch adults stocked into the Bolong River are also persisting. This project has taken over 10 years of effort to achieve this significant result.

See Macquarie Perch for more information.

March- May 2019

Successful introduction of Murray Hardyhead into NSW

The first reintroduction of a critically endangered fish into NSW has proven successful!

Recent monitoring has shown that Murray Hardyheads, a small freshwater fish with the ability to survive in extremely salty water, are A murray hardyhead swimming naturallythriving in their new home of Little Frenchmans Creek on the Murray River after being translocated from the South Australian Riverland late last year.

Considered extinct in NSW for more than a decade, this species has survived in just a handful of wetlands in northern Victoria and in the Riverland and Lower Lakes in South Australia.

In a collaborative effort between numerous committed organisations and individuals, over 830 Murray Hardyhead were moved to Little Frenchman's Creek in November 2018 to reduce the risk of this critically endangered fish species becoming extinct and to re-establish populations in NSW waters.

Follow-up monitoring at three sites within the creek in late March and May captured more than 1200 Murray Hardyhead. The presence of different sized fish confirms that breeding occurred over summer.

A hand holding a murray hardyhead over a bucketThe relocation is a joint project involving the NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, Western Local Land Services, the Commonwealth Government, the SA Department of Environment and Water, Aquasave - Nature Glenelg Trust, the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group, and the owners of the Wingillie Station in western NSW. Wingillie Station is owned by the Hazel L Henry Farmland Nature Refuges Trust, which has been working with the Murray Darling Wetlands Working Group and Commonwealth Environment Water Office for several years to improve the condition of the floodplain and wetland habitats across the station.

This successful reintroduction is a great example of how hard work and strong collaboration between local landholders, community groups and governments is ensuring water for the environment keeps our rivers and threatened fish healthy.

Check out a video of the translocation! (4:18mins)