$850k to conserve rare freshwater fish

October 18, 2012

Little Pygmy Perch (photo by Stephen Beatty)

Murdoch University researchers have helped to secure an $850,000 grant to conserve three species of endangered fresh water fish native to the South-West of Western Australia.

The study by the Freshwater Fish Group and the Fish Health Unit will focus on Balston’s Pygmy Perch, the Western Trout Minnow and the recently discovered species Little Pygmy Perch.

The funding comes from the State Government’s Strategic Priority Projects and will be managed through the Natural Resources Management (NRM) office.

“As we only discovered the Little Pygmy Perch in 2009 near Denmark, we know little about it although we believe it to be one of the most restricted fishes in Australia,” said Murdoch research fellow Dr Stephen Beatty.

“This makes it particularly vulnerable to threats such as salinisation and declines in habitat due to flow reductions associated with climate change.”

Senior research leader Dr David Morgan added that their studies in the South-West over the course of 20 years had demonstrated that these unique species were also threatened by barriers to their migration and introduced species.

“There is also still much to learn about the distribution and threats to Australia’s only critically endangered freshwater fish, the Western Trout Minnow, and this is an exciting opportunity to take a collaborative approach to obtain the knowledge required to sustainably manage all three endangered species,” said Dr Morgan.

The study, to be run over three years, is led by the Department of Fisheries and partners include the University of Western Australia Albany, Department of Water, Department of Environment and Conservation and South Coast NRM along with other regional catchment groups.

More information on these and other freshwater fish in Western Australia can be found at the Freshwater Fish Group and Fish Health Unit's website.

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