Australian endangered species: Murray cod

Murray cod in water Mullaroo Creek

Recently I was asked to write a short piece on Murray cod in The  Conversation, since the International Union for the Conservation of Nature list the species as Endangered. This is quite a controversial topic, since the species is one of the most popular inland recreational fisheries in Australia. I list one of the threats as ‘fishing’, which is what the documents state.  And I think it is beholden on all of us to recognise all the potential reasons for the poor status of the species. Sure, as one reader pointed out to me, rehabilitation is happening, and a lot has been done to improve conditions for our native fishes. But I believe that we have a long, long way to go before we can relax. The pressures on Murray cod and other species (people often forget that there are another 30 or so species in the MDB that need consideration too!) from continued flow regulation, instream barriers, introduced species, future water resource development (including advocacy of new dams like for the Ovens River in northern Victoria) and reductions in funding for native fish research, conservation and management, all mean that there is a great risk in letting our guard down. And I couldn’t agree more with one respondent, that fishers are key contributors to the effective conservation of Murray cod. In the end, we all want the  same thing.

I gleaned material for the piece from a range of  sources, including the Murray-Darling Basin Commission’s Native Fish Strategy, the Murray cod Recovery Plan and several other references, which I include below, as there was not space for them in the article.

Hope you find it interesting.

HUMPHRIES, P. 2005. Spawning time and early life history of Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii peelii (Mitchell) in an Australian river. Environmental Biology of Fishes, 72, 393-407. KOEHN, J. D. 2004. The loss of valuable Murray cod in fish kills: a science and management perspective.  Management of Murray cod in the Murray-Darling Basin: Statement, recommendations and supporting papers. Proceedings of a workshop held in Canberra, MDBC 2004. 3-4. KOEHN, J. D. 2009. Multi-scale habitat selection by Murray cod Maccullochella peelii peelii in two lowland rivers. Journal of Fish Biology, 75, 113-129. KOEHN, J. D. & HARRINGTON, D. J. 2006. Environmental conditions and timing for the spawning of Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii) and the endangered trout cod (M. macquariensis) in Southeastern Australian rivers. River Research and Applications, 22, 327-342. KOEHN, J. & TODD, C. 2012. Balancing conservation and recreational fishery objectives for a threatened fish species, the Murray cod, Maccullochella peelii. Fisheries Management and Ecology, 19, 410-425. LINTERMANS, M. 2013. Conservation and Management. In: Humphries, P. & Walker, K.F. (eds). Ecology of Australian Freshwater Fishes, CSIRO Publishing, Collingwood. ROURKE, M. L., MCPARTLAN, H. C., INGRAM, B. A. & TAYLOR, A. C. Biogeography and life history ameliorate the potentially negative genetic effects of stocking on Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii). Marine and Freshwater Research, 61, 918-927. ROWLAND, S. J. 1989. Aspects of the History and fishery of the Murray Cod, Maccullochella peeli (Mitchell) (Percichthyidae). Proc. Linn. Soc. N.S.W., 111, 201-213. TODD, C. R., RYAN, T., NICOL, S. J. & BEARLIN, A. R. 2005. The impact of cold water releases on the critical period of post-spawning survival and its implications for Murray cod (Maccullochella peelii peelii): A case study of the Mitta Mitta River, southeastern Australia. River Research and Applications, 21, 1035-1052.

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