A two-year Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program has commenced with 200 Murray Crayfish being moved from an area where they are abundant to a site downstream in the Murray River which has suffered a significant decline in local population.

Murray Crayfish were once widespread throughout the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments however have declined in range and distribution and are now listed as ‘vulnerable’ in NSW.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Senior Fisheries Manager – Threatened Species, Dr Trevor Daly said this is the first time a stocking program to boost the population of Murray Crayfish has been conducted in the Murray River in NSW.

“Murray Crayfish are an iconic Australian species and are an essential part of the Murray Darling Basin ecosystem, so it is hoped the translocation and release efforts will assist their recovery and ensure their long-term future,” Dr Daly said.

“A range of environment factors have reduced the abundance of the species in recent decades however a widespread hypoxic blackwater event which occurred during 2010 and 2011 saw Murray Crayfish further decline. Murray Crayfish have low dispersal rates and small home range, which means it would take them a lot longer to recolonise the affected areas downstream if we didn’t give them a helping hand. Another 200 Murray Crayfish will be released to the site next year along with continued monitoring to determine the success of the project.”

The translocation project is being run by DPI in collaboration with Aquasave – Nature Glenelg Trust, the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust and local fishing clubs.

Nick Whiterod from Nature Glenelg Trust with a couple of Murray crayfish. Photo credit: ABC News

Murray Crayfish are a native freshwater species endemic to the Murray Darling Basin. They are the world’s second largest freshwater crayfish, growing to three kilograms in weight and can be easily identified by their spiny green and brown abdomens and large white claws.

Murray Crayfish must not be taken from any waters in NSW other than during the open season in prescribed waters.  Fishers can also obtain a free Murray Crayfish measuring device and the NSW Freshwater Fishing Guide from DPI Fisheries offices and most bait and tackle stores.

More information about Murray Crayfish from the NSW Government.

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