Project to help save native fish

A NEW research project on Bush Heritage Australia's Scottsdale Reserve has begun this month.

It will tackle the increasing numbers of common carp in the Upper Murrumbidgee River that are threatening endangered native fish.

On Tuesday, researchers trialled new fishing trapping techniques that involve using an electric fishing boat and fine nets.

Carp are considered to be the worst aquatic pest in Australia and New Zealand as scientists say they are one of the world's most invasive species.

Currently the species are implicated in the decline of the nationally endangered Macquarie perch, Trout cod and Murray cod in the Upper Murrumbidgee catchment.

Bush Heritage's Healthy Landscape Manager Peter Saunders said the project will help better protect the native fish and river habitats.

"We hope this work will fill a gap in Australia's understanding of carp biology and behaviour in upland river systems," Mr Saunders said.

Acoustic tags were used on larger carp fish to determine seasonal migration patterns, population structure and interaction of carp with native species.

Other carp were then dissected and had their ear bone removed to determine their age.

Senior Fisheries Technician Prue McGuffie is researching the habitat and flow requirements for the successful recruitment of Macquarie perch.

"In NSW, carp populations have been moving progressively upstream to the point that we are now seeing them above the Cooma weir, which is prime habitat for endangered fish such as the Macquarie perch," Ms McGuffie said.

As for the remains of the dissected carp, Laurence Koenig was there to collect what would now be used on his father's organic garlic and potato farm.

Mr Koenig said the research being carried out was helpful as the carp would now be broken down and used as a fertiliser for his produce.

The project is the first to track carp in an upland river system in NSW.

Bush Heritage and NSW fisheries experts will use the data collected to determine removal and control options in Scottsdale's Upper Murrumbidgee River and other upstream habitats.

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