A First in 40 Years: Murray Crayfish Released Back into South Australian Waters
Around 200 Murray crayfish have been released into the river as part of a landmark trial to reintroduce the iconic Australian species back into the South Australian River Murray.
Once common in the waters of the South Australia River Murray, 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. Improved understanding and recent improvements to these conditions mean it’s now time to attempt to bring the species back to South Australia.
“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,” said Darren Willis, Team Leader Wetlands at the Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board.
“Many of the rescued crayfish have been returned to the locations they were rescued from but with the support of NSW DPI Fisheries and other state agencies, we were able to secure some of these crayfish for release in South Australia,” he added.
“The releases represent an important first step to re-establishing a self-sustaining population of this iconic species in South Australia.”.
While Murray crayfish are still found in river locations in Victoria and New South Wales, human intervention is required to successfully re-establish a population in South Australia. Aided by recent research, the team involved is feeling confident that the trial will help to understand the conditions required for Murray crayfish to flourish.
“The reintroduction initiative has been guided by almost a decade of research and planning and builds on a similar project interstate, so that we are in the best possible position for it to be successful” said Dr Nick Whiterod from Nature Glenelg Trust.
“We are really excited about the opportunity to return such an iconic and beautiful species back to South Australia,” added colleague Dr Sylvia Zukowski.
“It’s really important to attempt these kinds of bold projects so that future generations can have the chance to see the species in the South Australia River
A number of the released crayfish have been fitted with tracking devices to help the team to monitor their movement within the river. Ongoing monitoring of
the trial will also be supported by the River Murray and Mallee Aboriginal Corporations (RMMAC) River Ranger team.
“This initiative to reintroduce Murray crayfish into South Australian waters is a fantastic example of cross-border collaboration by State, regional, nongovernment
and community organisations, all of which have played an important part in launching a reintroduction of such significance,” said Mr Willis.
This 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.