Native Fish Forum 2024, 25-28 March at Mercure Belconnen, Canberra ACT. Reflect, Share, Collaborate.

Page updated: 28 March 2024

2024 Native Fish Forum

Reflect. Share. Collaborate.

25-27 March 2024
Mercure Belconnen, Canberra ACT

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About the Forum

The 2024 Native Fish Forum brought together people committed to recovering our native fish populations.

We learnt about the latest in native fish restoration efforts across the Murray–Darling Basin and how water management, fisheries management, threatened species management and restoration efforts can combine to recover native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin.

The forum was also an opportunity for people connected to fish recovery – community members, recreational fishers, researchers, and those working in fish recovery – to share their knowledge of native fish restoration efforts and learn from others across 3 days together.


Brenton Zampatti
Brenton is a Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO Environment where he undertakes research on freshwater and estuarine fish. Over the past 30 years, Brenton has investigated the ecology and population dynamics of fish throughout the Murray-Darling Basin and in the coastal rivers of south-eastern Australia. His research involves collaborative projects across research institutes, management agencies and the community, with an applied focus on water and fisheries management. Brenton considers himself extremely fortunate to have a job where he can indulge a passion for fish and use the outcomes of research to aid in the conservation of aquatic ecosystems.

Mariah Millington
Mariah is a freshwater fish biologist, with her research focusing on non-native fish invasions & impacts in Australian freshwaters. Mariah recently received her doctorate from Griffith University, with her thesis evaluating the online trade of imperilled and invasive freshwater fish and the key factors that influence their introduction likelihood.

Andrew McGovern
Andrew has been fishing the waters of Canberra, the Monaro, and the Snowy Mountain regions for over 45 years. Growing up in Canberra he has a special connection with the Murrumbidgee River and the native species that frequent these waterways. Andrew has written over 500 articles and is considered one of the country’s most innovative and accomplished anglers. Andrew is particularly passionate about sustainable recreational fishing practices including fish handling methods to minimise harm and stress to our wonderful native fish. He has been an advocate for catch and release practices for over 30 years and consistently communicates the strong connection he has to our rivers and lakes.

Tyson Powell
I’m a Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal man my family is from Cowra but I’m a born and bred Canberran. I’ve been with Ginninderry Conservation Trust for the last 3 years. I started as a project officer and over the last year have set up a caring for country rangers program which I now run. I’ve had a passion for Country since I was a little kid exploring the bush. Now I have grown up to take responsibility to care for country as my ancestors have done for countless generations.

Jack Buckskin
Jack is the Founder and Managing Director of Kuma Kaaru Cultural Services. He is a proud Kaurna, Narungga and Wirangu man and has spent the best part of 2 decades teaching and showcasing his language and culture locally, nationally and internationally. Jack has been vital in the language revitalisation of Kaurna and has helped many other endangered languages with strategies to re connect to their language.

Peter Rose
Peter is an aquatic ecologist with over 20 years’ experience within the government, university, and private sectors. Peter works at North Central Catchment Management Authority as the Project Manager for the Native Fish Recovery Plan – Gunbower and Lower Loddon; and is the Recovery Reach Coordinator for the Mid-Murray Floodplain Recovery Reach.  Peter manages large-scale restoration native fish projects including fishway design and construction, instream woody habitat reinstatement, riparian protection and enhancement, wetland rehabilitation, and floodplain-specialist fish conservation projects.

Brad Davies
Brad describes himself as a Restoration Geomorphologist and started his own company, adaptiv, in 2016. Prior to that he worked for the NSW State Government in various NRM roles. Brad’s career focus has been design and construction of in-stream restoration and soil conservation works. This work has taken him across the State where he has been instrumental in the delivery of a diverse range of projects from small scale gully sediment traps, leaky sills, rock ramp fishways, large log jam projects to bank erosion control works.

Matt Beitzel
Matt is ACT fish ecologist working on research and monitoring of upland threatened fish and their habitats. He has over 20 years experience in freshwater fish management with particular interests in bushfire recovery and genetic population health of Blackfish, Macquarie Perch and montane Crayfish.

Lisa Evans
Lisa is an aquatic ecologist with the ACT Government working on ‘things that live under water’ – mostly fish. She has worked at the intersection of research and application to management for the past 20 years. Lisa has a particular interest in river rehabilitation.

Alex Lewis
Alex has 6 years of experience in waterway projects at the Glenelg Hopkins CMA. Successfully planning and coordinating critical projects related to fish passage, fish habitat, and environmental water. His ability to forge positive relationships with diverse stakeholders in the local community has been instrumental in the success of the water resources program. Alex’s commitment to raising awareness about the Glenelg River and environmental water resources, emphasising the benefits of flow and connectivity, continues to build trust among key environmental advocates.

Maxine Cooper
Maxine is the independent Chair, ACT and Regional Catchment Coordination Group, independent Chair of the Landcare ACT Board and Deputy Chair, National Landcare Network. She is a Fellow of the Planning Institute of Australia and the Environment Institute of Australian and New Zealand. Maxine is also Adjunct Professor, Faculty Art and Design, University of Canberra, and is a Fulbright Fellow (USA) and Commonwealth Scholarship holder (Canada). She is particularly interested in advancing sustainable practices and to this end has a track record of fostering interdisciplinary working practices and building partnerships. Her skills are wide ranging as she has held executive positions in several jurisdictions in policy and operational areas, managed diverse government businesses, undertaken investigations and research. Much of her work has involved matters related to water policies and management, which she has managed to weave into all her various professional roles. Previously she was the Auditor-General for the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). Prior to that appointment, Maxine was the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, and before that, the Head of the ACT Water Security Taskforce.

Siwan Lovett
Siwan is a familiar face in the Australian river restoration community, with her work in communications, public speaking, leadership and on-ground riparian rehabilitation well-known and respected. She enjoys facilitating and empowering others to value themselves and their knowledge so that rivers and waterways can be managed confidently, in partnership with nature. She has been interested in native fish for quite some time, partnering with the MDBA for the Finterest website.

Andy Lowes
Andy has worked for the Australian River Restoration Centre since 2022 and is the current Chair of the Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment Network. He is passionate about improving river health through enhanced flow regimes and has over a decade of experience planning and delivering environmental flows in the Southern Murray-Darling Basin. He has a strong focus on the collaboration and communication required between First Nations, communities, scientists, industries and government agencies, to improve our rivers. Andy is also committed to strengthening the water industry network through programs which support mentoring and collaboration across agencies. Canberra born and bred, he has enjoyed growing up alongside the Murrumbidgee River and surrounding tributaries.

Darren Roso
Darren has been working on rivers for 39 years. Cattle producer, recent Carbon Farmer and ACT Parks Ranger, indefatigably and positively active, communicative, passionate about people and the bush. In his spare time, he works on sustainable farming, urban development and conservation projects. He enjoys hunting, fishing and eating what he kills!

More speaker profiles coming – check back soon!


DAY 1: Monday 25 March
– Tea and Coffee available
11:00amWelcome to Country
– Bradley Bell
Welcome to Forum
– MC Siwan Lovett, Australian River Restoration Centre
Opening Address
– Andrew McConville, Murray–Darling Basin Authority
Fish without borders: Collaborative science and conservation of wide-ranging species
– Brenton Zampatti, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
What results are possible when coordination and collaboration at a whole-of-catchment scale are achieved
– Alex Lewis, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management Authority
Recovering small-bodied fish
– Lowlands: Peter Rose, North Central Catchment Management Authority
– Uplands: Luke Pearce, NSW DPI Fisheries
Are We Ready? Getting ready for the next catastrophe
– Katherine Cheshire, NSW DPI Fisheries
4:45pmLet's get RADical! Share ideas for fish recovery that Resist change, Adapt to change or Direct change
– Siwan Lovett
5:15pmEND OF DAY 1 – formal proceedings
– Lighthouse Belconnen
DAY 2: Tuesday 26 March
Welcome and recap of Day 1
– Siwan Lovett, Australian River Restoration Centre
Title TBA
– Jack Buckskin, Kuma Kaaru (online)
Indigenous knowledge and action at Ginninderry and actions for fish in an urban setting
– Tyson Powell, Gininderry Conservation Trust
Recovering Icons of the Basin: Trout cod, Macquarie perch, Silver perch and Freshwater catfish
– Jarod Lyon, Arthur Rylah Institute
– Katherine Cheshire and Sam Davis, NSW DPI Fisheries
1:30pmVisit to the Upper Murrumbidgee Recovery Reach (UMRR) at Tharwa with local champions:
– Lisa Evans and Matt Beitzel: Native fish, fish habitat and recreational fishing limits/conservation areas
– Andrew McGovern: Cod fishing tips and best practise catch and release
– Andy Lowes: Forgotten River, flows and why the river is so important to the community
– Dan Starrs: Water quality and river health
– Brad Davies: Log jams, sedimentation and river restoration geomorphology

Led by Antia Brademann, UMRR Coordinator
DAY 3: Wednesday 27 March
Welcome and recap of Day 2
– Siwan Lovett and Andy Lowes, Australian River Restoration Centre
The next threats to Freshwater fish - Pest fish not yet in the Basin and how they might get in
– Mariah Millington, Freshwater fish biologist
Carp control with and without the virus - what are the options?
– Jarod Lyon, Arthur Rylah Institute
Tools and techniques for combating pest fish, including screens
– Alex Lewis, Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management
Pest fish
– Mariah Millington
– Jarod Lyon
– Alex Lewis
An alternate lens: ecological economics
– Boyd Blackwell, NSW DPI Fisheries
Review of learnings across the 3 days and determine how to present this collective message to key decision-makers
– Siwan Lovett and Native Fish Recovery Strategy team
Harnessing the partnerships of the One Basin CRC to advance native fish recovery in The Basin.
– One Basin CRC

Acknowledgement of funding: This project is funded by the Native Fish Recovery Strategy. The Native Fish Recovery Strategy is funded under the joint programs and coordinated by the Murray-Darling Basin Authority. The joint programs promote and coordinate effective planning, management and sharing of the water and other natural resources of the Murray-Darling Basin.