The Dewfish Demonstration Reach (the Reach) is fast becoming the pride and joy of the Condamine catchment in Queensland (website). Not only is the Reach Queensland’s first Native Fish Strategy demonstration reach but it has proven to everyone that it is working – the native fish are coming back!
The Reach began at a modest 28 kilometres back in 2006, but overwhelming community interest and support has seen it stretch to its current length of 110 kilometres (and still stretching). It begins in central Dalby and incorporates parts of Myall Creek, Oakey Creek and the Condamine River.
To the catchment community the Reach is much more than just a waterway but part of their lifeblood which nourishes some of the world’s most productive farming land. The Reach has become the flagship project for the Condamine River Rescue program led by natural resource management group Condamine Alliance and funded by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority.
The goal of the Reach is confident and straightforward – restore native fish populations to 60% of pre-European settlement levels. This goal has taken on a special urgency with current native fish populations down by 90% since European settlement. While it’s not a simple or short term task, the Reach is proving that it is possible.
Determined to ‘bring back the fish’, Condamine Alliance developed a strategic plan for river rehabilitation in the catchment and has led a revival mission along sections of the Reach since 2006. The urgency of the project, together-with the community’s high regard for the river, has mobilised and empowered a new generation of river custodians across community, business, industry and government.
The depth and breadth of social and economic upshots of the Reach has both surprised and delighted all those involved in this pioneering project. Strong community and industry partnerships have attracted $2 million of additional co-investment from major players and helped spread the story far and wide throughout the catchment.
At each turn in the Reach story there are examples of outstanding achievements, but ask any local and they will be most proud of the return of three native fish species not seen in the catchment for up to 15 years. The Reach may have a simple goal but for this community and its diverse landscape ‘bringing back the fish’ is a giant battle that must be won.
Achievements so far
- Upgraded the Loudoun weir fishway which has improved fish passage by up to 150 kilometres and resulted in the return of three native fish species
- Increased Golden perch, Bony bream and Eel-tailed catfish numbers in high intervention areas and saw the return of Moonfish in Myall Creek for the first time in 15 years
- Installed snags, logjams and lunkers at five sections
- Planted more than 5000 native trees and plants
- Erected off-stream watering points on five sections of Oakey Creek
- Removed more than 800 kilograms of pest fish
- Completed biodiversity surveys of Myall Creek, Loudoun Weir Pool and Oakey Creek
- Joined forces with local schools to develop educational programs on riparian land management
- Installed the Dewfish Reach Talking Circle on the bank of Myall Creek in partnership with international artist and the local Aboriginal community
- Involved local fish stockers in kreel surveys to monitor native fish populations and educate fellow anglers about the dangers of translocating pest fish
- Established the Reach steering committee with representatives from local and state government, Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Condamine Alliance and local schools
“This project is the best thing that has ever happened to Oakey Creek… there is no way we could have recovered this area without the help of Condamine Alliance”
Noal Kuhl, Oakey Freshwater Fish Stocking Association
For further information visit http://www.condaminealliance.com.au/dewfish-demonstration-reach