Around 200 Murray crayfish have been released into SA’s River Murray as part of a landmark trial to reintroduce the iconic threatened species back into the region.
Once common in the local river system, the number of Murray crayfish declined to a point of virtual extinction as a result of overfishing, the effects of river regulation and declines in water quality.
They are still found in river locations in Victoria and New South Wales, with human intervention needed to re-establish a population in South Australia.
Dr Nick Whiterod from Nature Glenelg Trust said the reintroduction initiative, between several organisations, has been guided by almost a decade of research and planning.
“[It] builds on a similar project interstate, so that we are in the best possible position for it to be successful,” Dr Whiterod said.
The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board wetlands Team Leader Darren Willis said thanks to an improved understanding of the species and recent improvements to the river conditions mean the time is right to do so.
“The releases represent an important first step to re-establishing a self-sustaining population of this iconic species in South Australia,” said Darren Willis.
“The Murray crayfish release in South Australia would not have been possible without the rescue efforts of OzFish volunteers during the upstream black-water event, and North-West Aquaculture and Nature Glenelg Trust for maintaining them in captivity.”
The initiative is a partnership between Nature Glenelg Trust, and the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board through funding from the landscape levies, with support from New South Wales DPI, Victoria Fisheries Authority, OzFish Unlimited, North West Aquaculture, River Murray & Mallee Aboriginal Corporation (RMMAC), and PIRSA.
Photo supplied Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board.