Looking after our rivers: Native fish release in the Macquarie

Amanda Thomas, CottonInfo regional development officer for the Macquarie Valley writes:

Almost 20 years ago, the Macquarie Cotton Growers Association, in conjunction with the Narromine and Warren Shire Councils and the NSW DPI Fisheries began the annual release of fingerlings into the Macquarie River, to help build the population of native fish.

20 years later and the annual release is still taking place, marked by a considerable improvement in the numbers of native fish. Each year around the same time, we alternate putting in Murray Cod and Golden Perch fingerlings, with around 20,000 put in in three locations along the river each year.

On 23 January, I attended the Warren release: a great, fun day for the kids. The Warren Youth Group, led by cotton grower Tony McAlary, brought canoes to scout out fish habitat locations and spread the fingerlings around so they have the best chance of survival. It was a community event, with the Shire Council and representatives of the NSW Police Darling River local area command in attendance.

Over the 20 years of the annual release, we are proud to have restocked over 200,000 fingerlings into the river system and we are really starting to see the benefits. It was great to see three separate entities working together to improve our native environment. We all appreciate that our rivers are crucial to the survival of our small towns and farming industries, and we need to look after our rivers for the next generation.