Murray Crayfish population clawing back

Murray Crayfish

A further 200 Murray Crayfish have been successfully relocated in the Murray River, as part of the NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Murray Crayfish conservation stocking program.

NSW DPI Senior Fisheries Manager, Threatened Species, Dr Trevor Daly, said the success of the stocking program is providing a great benefit for securing the future of the vulnerable species.

“Murray Crayfish were once widespread throughout the Murray and Murrumbidgee catchments, however in recent decades they have declined in range and distribution due to a variety of environmental factors,” Dr Daly said.

“Fortunately our teams captured a range of sizes and ages as part of this year’s surveys, including some recaptures of translocated crayfish from previous years at the release site.

“The team was very excited to capture a very large female (over 1.5 kg) at the collection site, providing assurance there are still some very old (25+ years) crays surviving in some parts of the Murray River.

“We started this conservation program in 2017 to safeguard the long-term future of the iconic Murray Crayfish in the Murray River.”

Dr Daly said the declining populations were further exacerbated by widespread hypoxic blackwater events in 2010 and 2011.

“We’re running this conservation translocation program because Murray Crayfish have very low dispersal abilities and occupy small home-ranges, which means they struggle to recolonise areas where their population has declined,” Dr Daly said.

“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 large white claws and spiny green and brown abdomens.

“This is a collaborative effort from DPI and Aquasave-Nature Glenelg Trust and is supported by funds from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust, which has ensured the successful completion of stage three of the stocking program.”

Recreational catch of Murray Crayfish is limited, which is an important measure to ensure this threatened species is able to bounce back. Murray Crayfish may only be taken by the use of up to five hoop nets per person from specified waters between June and August (inclusive).

The daily bag limit is two per person within a 10-12cm size bracket (measured from the rear of the eye socket to the rear of the carapace). Any Murray Crayfish carrying eggs externally or accidentally taken in the closed season must be immediately returned to the water.

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.

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