Australia’s much-loved freshwater Macquarie perch is a nationally endangered species, whose survival is threatened by land clearing, erosion, stock in waterways, introduced fish species and water extraction.

Droughts, like the one Victoria is currently experiencing, are also affecting the Macquarie perch.

Conditions are likely to worsen for the fish in the face of climate change with more extreme weather events expected such as drought.

Reduced rainfall can lead to low or no stream flow, poor water quality and high water temperatures, which can have devastating affects on fish.

Applied Aquatic Ecology scientist, Joanne Sharley, from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning's (DELWP) Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) for Environmental Research, says Macquarie Perch can still be found in a number of places in Victoria.

“There are 11 populations, albeit small ones, in the upper reaches of the Mitta Mitta, the Ovens, Broken, Campaspe and Goulburn rivers in northern Victoria and a self-sustaining population has been established in the Yarra," Ms Sharley said.

“The current drought is placing a lot of pressure on Macquarie perch, particularly those populations in the Goulbourn Broken catchments. We’re working with the Catchment Management Authority and local community groups to monitor and protect them.”

Since 2007, the ARI has been working with government agencies and local community groups to re-establish Macquarie perch populations in the Ovens River. This work is going extremely well, with the population re-establishing itself. Local communities are also strengthening their connection with, and advocacy for, this special native fish.

“We’re continuing to monitor the Macquarie perch, so we can get a better idea of how they’re affected by drought, floods and fires,” Ms Sharley said.

“That information will be very useful in supporting their survival as the effects of climate change step up.”

Page last updated: 27/07/20