A Murdoch University program to track endangered sawfish in the Fitzroy River has been awarded an extra $110,000 in funding.
The Natural Resource Management funding is part of the Government’s $2 billion investment into Australia’s environment and will extend the sawfish tagging program currently undertaken by local Yiriman (Nyikina/Mangala) rangers, which aims to increase knowledge of the threatened species.
Senior Research Leader Dr David Morgan from Murdoch University’s Freshwater Fish Group said the money would pay for more acoustic receivers, used to pick up corresponding acoustic tags placed on fish caught by local ranger groups involved in the program.
"Basically, when one of the fish swims by the receiver it transmits data which we then collect and collate," he said.
"The tags tell us about the movement patterns and depth utilisation of the fish."
In collaboration with the rangers, Dr Morgan and postgraduate research student Jeff Whitty had previously tagged 25 fish with the acoustic tags.
The funding will allow for another 10 sawfish to be tagged and the project will move upstream to the Fitzroy Crossing region and involve local people to tag fish in Geikie Gorge.
Dr Morgan said sawfish were also tagged with cattle tags and released, with recreational anglers who inadvertently caught the fish asked to report catches to the centre.
He said Fitzroy River freshwater sawfish are important because populations in South East Asia and the east coast of Australia had become extinct.
The fish are believed to spend the first four to five years of their life in the river before moving out to sea and can live to more than 40 years old and grow to more than 7m long.