Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE (Open Access)

Recovery of the endangered trout cod, Maccullochella macquariensis: what have we achieved in more than 25 years?

John D. Koehn A F , Mark Lintermans B , Jarod P. Lyon A , Brett A. Ingram D , Dean M. Gilligan C , Charles R. Todd A and John W. Douglas E

A Freshwater Ecology, Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research, Department of Environment and Primary Industries, 123 Brown Street, Heidelberg, Vic. 3084, Australia.

B Institute for Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia.

C Fisheries NSW, Department of Trade & Investment, Batemans Bay Fisheries Office, PO Box 17, Batemans Bay, NSW 2536, Australia.

D Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Snobs Creek hatchery, Private Bag 20, Alexandra, Vic. 3714, Australia.

E Department of Environment and Primary Industries, Fisheries, 5 Binns McCraes Road, Alexandra, Vic. 3714, Australia.

F Corresponding author. Email: john.koehn@dse.vic.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 64(9) 822-837 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/MF12262
Submitted: 17 September 2012  Accepted: 4 June 2013   Published: 6 September 2013

Abstract

Recovery of threatened species is often necessarily a long-term process. The present paper details the progress towards the recovery of trout cod, Maccullochella macquariensis, an iconic, long-lived fish species first listed as threatened in the 1980s. The objectives, actions and progress over three successive national recovery plans (spanning 18 years) are assessed, documenting changes to population distribution and abundance and updating ecological knowledge. Increased knowledge (especially breeding biology and hatchery techniques, movements, habitats and genetics) has greatly influenced recovery actions and the use of a population model was developed to assist with management options and stocking regimes. Key recovery actions include stocking of hatchery-produced fish to establish new populations, regulations on angling (including closures), education (particularly identification from the closely related Murray cod, M. peelii) and habitat rehabilitation (especially re-instatement of structural woody habitats). In particular, the establishment of new populations using hatchery stocking has been a successful action. The importance of a coordinated long-term approach is emphasised and, although there is uncertainty in ongoing resourcing of the recovery program, much has been achieved and there is cautious optimism for the future of this species.

Additional keywords: Australia, conservation, endangered species, freshwater fish, recovery, rehabilitation.


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