The Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach is nestled within the Tatong Valley in North East Victoria. The project supports the Regional River Health Strategy and Murray-Darling Basin Authority Native Fish Strategy and targets a range of primary assets within the Hollands Branch. This project will focus on protecting and expanding suitable habitat for Macquarie perch populations.
The high priority status and major asset of the Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach is the endangered Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica). Macquarie perch are listed as Endangered both nationally (under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999) and at the State level (Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988).
These dark-grey or bluish–grey fish have a rounded tail, large, white eyes, and prominent pores on the snout and are restricted to only a few remaining stream reaches within the catchment.
The program, which has been in place for over three years, has seen a range of works being implemented, including fencing, revegetation, pest plant control, habitat creation, monitoring and community activities.
Detailed monitoring of key sites along the reach will enable us to measure progress and demonstrate the effects and benefits of combined works. It is anticipated that measurable improvements in river health and fish habitat will generate support for further works along neighboring reaches.
This project, while using the Macquarie Perch as the project Icon will protect additional assets, including:
- Significant fauna (see below), Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVCs) and rare wetlands.
- Significant flora species found in parts of Holland Creek and its major tributary, Ryans Creek.
- Significant fauna including the Bluenose (Trout) cod, Crimson-spotted rainbow fish, Eastern Horseshoe bat, Golden perch, Macquarie perch, Mountain galaxias and Turquoise parrot.
- Sections of Hollands Creek highly rated for social and recreational values (camping, swimming and passive recreation).
Summary of Successes and Failures over the last 12 months
This project has incorporated a range of field events to increase community awareness and longer term participation in the project and advocacy for the local fish community and river health. Meetings and field days have been held to increase the awareness of the project and a Community Reference Group has continued to meet regularly. Signage, developed with the community, has been installed at key public access points, and has partnered with the local Heritage group, to enable shared ‘ownership’, double-sided sign design and cost sharing. The creek has traditionally been regarded as a trout fishing site; early antagonism between trout anglers and project supporters was disruptive but renewed trust is being built. The planned works program has continued, with some adjustments through post-flood periods.
Interest has grown in visiting the Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach project by community groups involved in like plans and projects in neighbouring regions, also focussing on Macquarie perch (King Parrot Creek, Hughes Creek and Sevens Creek).
To determine the efficacy of the works program in the Demonstration Reach, ongoing monitoring of stream conditions and the fish assemblage is undertaken, involving annual surveys of both treatment and control sites. Surveys monitor the fish community, macroinvertebrates and water quality at each site.
Key Findings (up to June 2012)
- A number of positive changes in the nationally endangered native Macquarie perch population have been recorded over the last 12 months.
- The geographical distribution of Macquarie perch within the HCDR increased from two to four sites.
- The 2012 survey recorded the highest abundance of Macquarie Perch since project surveys began in 2008
- Flooding has dramatically altered instream habitat
- Improved connectivity between the bottom four sites may have been provided by flood waters, thus enabling Macquarie perch to access habitat previously unavailable to them over the last four to five years
- An additional native fish species has now been observed within the reach -Two-spined Blackfish (Gadopsis bispinosus) was recorded in Hollands Creek for the first time in 2011, and the most recent survey results (2012) revealed even greater numbers of these fish, along with the highest abundances recorded for River Blackfish (Gadopsis marmoratus) in the creek since the project began
- The presence of some alien fish species, including Gambusia (Gambusia holbrooki) and Redfin (Perca fluviatilis) has declined dramatically
- Brown trout (Salmo trutta) has increased in abundance
- Small native fishes have declined in recent years.
Results to Date
The following figures and table summarise some of the results from detailed monitoring of the Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach (HCDR) in 2011/2012:
- An increase in the Macquarie Perch population in the last 12 months
- Highest abundance of Macquarie Perch since survey began in 2008
- Increase in River Blackfish population in last 12 months
- Highest abundance of River Blackfish since survey began in 2008
- River Blackfish have a broad distribution in size class (37-272mm)
- Abundance of small Blackfish indicates recruitment has occurred within previous 12 months
- Blackfish are the most abundant fish species within the HCDR
- In addition, no Eastern Gambusia were recorded in the HCDR in 2011 and 2012
- Small native fishes have declined over the past two – three years
- Carp Gudgeon have not been recorded in the HCDR since 2008
- Mountain galaxias have declined since 2010
- Brown trout recorded a more than three-fold increase in abundance from 2011 to 2012
- An increase in Two-spined Blackfish population in last 12 months
- Highest abundance of Two-spined Blackfish since survey began in 2008
- Broad distribution in size class of Two-spined Blackfish (45-268mm)
- Abundance of small Two-spined Blackfish indicates recruitment has occurred within previous 12 months
- Dramatic decrease in the Redfin population within the HCDR from 228 individuals in 2009 to a single individual in 2012
- Lowest abundance of Redfin within the HCDR since sampling started in 2008
- Only one Redfin (259mm, total body length) captured from one site in 2012
- Highest abundance of Brown trout within the HCDR since sampling started in 2008
- Range in Brown trout length (74-435mm); unclear whether this is indicative of recruitment or stocked fish (Brown trout are stocked most years into the creek; recent negotiation has shifted the stocking to outside of the reach).
Plans for the Future
- Ongoing implementation of key actions with the support of the local community
- Updating the website to incorporate planning and monitoring, together with the inclusion of local stories and photographs
- An extension of the Talking Fish project, capturing and sharing oral histories along the reach.
- Facilitating school student involvement in the project.
- Involvement of neighbouring regions (King Parrot Creek, Hughes Creek), also supporting local Macquarie Perch populations, in field days / visits to the Hollands Creek project.
- Expanded Communications Strategy (including review and implementation) and Stage 2 of community monitoring.
Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s Native Fish Strategy Team – provision of resources and ongoing encouragement.
Wayne Tennant, Goulburn Broken CMA (email@example.com)
Fern Hames, Arthur Rylah Institute (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Raymond, S., Kearnes, J., Macdonald, A., Hames, F., and Lyon, J., 2007 Hollands Creek Demonstration Reach: Background and Recommendations. Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria.