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Imperilled Australian Freshwater Fish Workshop

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Recently, the Inland Fisheries Service (IFS) attended a national workshop to examine freshwater fish within Australia most likely to become extinct within the next twenty years.

The aims of the workshop were

  • to estimate a probability of extinction for each of the 22 freshwater fish most at risk,
  • to identify the most serious threats,
  • to investigate what can be done to remedy these threats, and
    • approximate costs for addressing them.

The Swan galaxias was the only Tasmanian species identified as at the highest level of risk. This small freshwater fish inhabits a few extreme headwaters of the Macquarie, Swan and South Esk rivers. It is confined to these upland areas mostly due to predation by brown trout. These areas are highly susceptible to drying out in summer, so the species can be restricted to just a few pools in as little as 500 metres of stream. With the on-set of global climate change now occurring, this puts the species at further risk.

The Swan galaxias fate was somewhat gloomy, being given a greater than average (55%) chance of becoming extinct under the current management regime. This is disappointing as the IFS has undertaken significant work to conserve this particular fish.

A Journal paper will be produced from the workshop findings. This will be used to encourage and lobby for much needed funding to support conservation efforts.  In the meantime, the IFS will push ahead with a range of measures to conserve the Swan galaxias.

The workshop was held in Melbourne and was run by Professor Stephen Garnett. It was attended by a range of freshwater fish experts from across Australia and supported by the Threatened Species Recovery Hub.

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