Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) are the cane toads of Australia’s waterways. They are an aggressive pest fish that outcompete native fish and impact on the ecology and health of our creeks and rivers.
The Murray-Darling Basin is at great risk of becoming infested with Tilapia. They are on the doorstep of the Northern Murray-Darling Basin catchments. In some areas, less than 3km separate Tilapia infested waters from the watershed of the Condamine catchment. Once Tilapia have colonized a waterway it is almost impossible to eradicate them with current methods.
Tilapia have the potential to inflict significant negative impacts on the environmental assets of the Murray-Darling Basin, such as water quality, aquatic habitat, native fish and the health of the waterways. These impacts also pose significant risks to the economic viability of the industries that rely on the condition of water resources inn the Murray-Darling Basin, such as agriculture, recreational activities, fisheries and resource development. The health of the communities reliant on water resources for drinking and other activities is also at risk.
The primary way that Tilapia may enter the Murray-Darling Basin is through people unwittingly or deliberately moving them into new waterways. As a result, the local communities of the Northern Murray-Darling Basin are the frontline to protecting our rivers and creeks from Tilapia. Targeted exclusion of Tilapia is our best chance of stopping the spread into the Murray-Darling Basin.
Condamine Alliance, with support from the Murray Darling Basing Authority, has been working hard to increase community awareness and action on the threat of Tilapia to the Northern Murray-Darling Basin. Recently, that have been working on the Tilapia Exclusion Strategy. It is aimed at stopping the spread of Tilapia and protecting the health of our waterways through engaging with and educating the community about the risks, impacts, identification and reporting of Tilapia.
The key aims of the Tilapia Exclusion Strategy are to:
- Develop a robust site monitoring and community surveillance program across 14 high risk incursion sites with 103 community members trained in Tilapia identification and reporting. At the time of this report, the Northern Murray-Darling Basin remains Tilapia free.
- Deliver strong communications and consistency of message. To learn how to Stop the Spread, have a look at this Creek to Coast episode
- Create an innovative community engagement approach. Tilapia were a topic of discussion at 32 community engagement and education events. 162 ‘at risk’ stakeholders were directly engaged to help deliver information to community. 13 young people created a children’s book to champion the Tilapia message. Have a read of Finnley’s Great Escape
- Continue to strengthen and build partnerships with multicultural community groups, industry representatives, youth and natural resource governance representatives
The Tilapia Exclusion Strategy Final Report is now available here: Tilapia Exclusion Strategy Final Report
Sophie Van Dijk
Latest posts by Sophie Van Dijk (see all)
- Native fish report cards: a fantastic new resource for Victoria - May 6, 2019
- Habitat restoration increases fish populations in the Murray: new research - April 9, 2019
- How did the fish cross the road? By slowing the flow - April 5, 2019