Restoring Native Fish Populations in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin

Restoring Native Fish Populations in Australia’s Murray Darling Basin

J. Marohasy J. Abbot 

Centre for Plant and Water Science, CQ University, Noosa, Queensland, Australia

31 August 2015
| Citation



In 2003, the Australian government launched The Native Fish Strategy for the Murray Darling Basin 2003–2013 with the objective of restoring native fish populations in the Murray Darling Basin to 60% of their of pre-European (before 1788) settlement levels.  Ten years on, there is no evidence that native fish populations show any sign of recovery, despite the Millennium drought breaking and significant government expenditure including the buyback of irrigation licences to increase in-streamflow and facilitate the watering of adjacent forests and wetlands. We review the native fish strategy, considering the five priority interventions originally identified. We conclude that more freshwater is unlikely to be effective at restoring native fish populations unless three additional issues are addressed: cold-water pollution, predation from introduced salmonids and the damming of the estuary. Unfortunately, however, these contentious issues are neither identified nor discussed in the new official planning document.


Native fish, Murray River, cold-water pollution, estuary, salmonids


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