Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud toured Stanthorpe this morning.
Minister for Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management David Littleproud toured Stanthorpe this morning. Matthew Purcell

Protecting native fish a priority as summer begins

A NATIVE Fish Emergency Response Plan is set to protect the Murray-Darling Basin's native fish ahead of an expected hot and dry summer.

Minister for Drought, David Littleproud said it was extremely likely to see more fish kills this summer, with the new plan offering vital tools to help protect fish populations.

"We're facing another hot summer with very little water flowing through our rivers," he said.

"The Federal Government has money put aside for fish-death prevention measures and environmental water holders will replenish areas on red alert, where they can.

"Fish deaths are common during summer, but what we saw last year were a major wake-up call about the impact of rate drought on our rivers.

"We want native river fish such as the Murray cod, silver perch and golden perch to have the best chance of surviving this summer. We want healthy and thriving fish populations in our rivers during drought and in the good times."

Mr Littleproud said after the Vartessy Review, an emergency plan had been put in place which will see more activitiy in high risk areas, with aerators, fish relocated and algae blooms watched closely.

"The last Northern Basin environmental watering program refreshed waterholes and fish refuges although there is little environmental water left," he said.

"NSW emergency measures have seen fish relocated so they survive this summer and re-populate the rivers when conditions improve.

"The Commonwealth is also bringing government officals and experts together this month to coordinate plans and identify areas at high risk of fish deaths.

"Communities have their part to play, and we ask they report river conditions and fish deaths to help with fish relocations and recovery."