Mallacoota community members enjoyed tours along the Wallagaraugh River last weekend aboard the Gipsy Princess with the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA).

Graeme Dear and Bryce Parker-Watts from the EGCMA talked about river health projects undertaken in the area as well as bushfire recovery, including water quality monitoring.

Bec Hemming, EGCMA Acting CEO, said, “It was a fantastic couple of days out on the water with EGCMA staff spending time with community members and talking about our rivers.  No better way to do this than on the beautiful Wallagaraugh River.” 

Although the weather went from wild and wet to sunny and humid, the one constant thing was the passion and enthusiasm from community members to explore the Wallagaraugh River by boat.

Azure Kingfishers and Gippsland Water Dragons made an appearance adding to the experience of the tours. As well as many unique flora and fauna species sighted, participants enjoyed interesting conversations with some people having a long history of river knowledge to newer and younger community members passionate about learning more.

The EGCMA will be hosting more of these boat tours in the future as it is the perfect opportunity for the community and staff to learn from each other.

Fish on woody debris

More fish habitat structures will be placed in the estuarine reaches of the Snowy and Brodribb Rivers over the next 3 years.

The East Gippsland Management Authority (EGCMA) is working in partnership with the Marlo Angling Club, through funding from the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration Program.  This project will focus on increasing instream habitat for key recreational fish species in the estuarine reaches with the installation of 50 large wood snags.

As well as the placement of snags, 1km of the river’s banks will be protected from erosion with rock.

Another important part of this project will include a trial of establishing 0.5ha of seagrass, a habitat that plays a vital role as fish nurseries.

Over the last 10 years dozens of fish habitat structures and/or logs have been introduced into the estuary. This along with around 600,000 Bass fingerlings has helped native fish species recover. This previous work has been a joint effort between many agencies and community groups including the EGCMA, the Arthur Rylan Institute (ARI), Victorian Fisheries Authority and the Marlo Angling club.

Graeme Dear, EGCMA CEO said, “The benefits of introducing fish habitat and stocking iconic Australian fish species into East Gippsland’s rivers is showing positive results.”

Recent fish surveys completed by the EGCMA with ARI in this area proved that fish species are recovering with many healthy fish, including Bass, gathering to spawn in the Snowy.

EGCMA staff member Tayla Cassidy assisting ARI staff with fish surveys

The benefits of introducing fish habitat and stocking iconic Australian species into East Gippsland’s rivers are showing positive results.

East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) has contracted the Authur Rylah Institute (ARI) to complete fish surveys in the Snowy and Brodribb rivers.

The fish are caught by electrofishing, which is a very effective tool that temporarily stuns the fish via an electrical current passed through the water. The fish are netted, measured, and weighed before being released unharmed back into the water. The data is added to previous information to help build a longer-term picture of fish populations.

Graeme Dear, EGCMA CEO said, “it was exciting to see healthy Bass gathering to spawn again in the Snowy. We are very pleased they are using snags we placed in the estuary with the help of local angling clubs and Victorian Fisheries Authority.”

The work has been a joint effort between the EGCMA, the ARI, Victorian Fisheries Authority, Victorian Environmental Water Holder and local angling clubs, like the Marlo Angling Club, for many years to get these results.

Travis Dowling, CEO of Victorian Fisheries Authority, said, “recreational fishers’ license money has also been used on the Snowy to stock Bass and Estuary Perch and improve the habitat. This success is now showing because fishers and agencies are working together on a common aim.”

ARI collected data on a variety of species, including Australian Bass, Bream, Flounder, Eel, Estuary Perch, Striped Gudgeon, Australian Smelt, Galaxiids and a very big 70cm Flathead.

EGCMA staff member Rachael Adam at Nowa Nowa Stony Creek Trestle Bridge checking water quality

The East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (EGCMA) has undertaken many bushfire recovery projects following the 2020/21 bushfires, but the work doesn’t stop there.

EGCMA CEO Graeme Dear said, “We have a program of bushfire recovery works underway. Individuals, agencies and community groups are working together to help the recovery process. Here are examples of some of the works funded by the Victorian Government.”

Three Bushfire Monitoring and Engagement Officers have been appointed to assist our fire recovery monitoring.They are collecting data to track recovery and identify issues that arise.

New and emerging weeds following bushfires are expected, with weeds often being the first thing that grows. Last year over 1,000ha of woody weed control was completed in fire-affected areas. An example is Cape Broom that has spread in Wonangatta after the fires. Agencies have combined efforts to have a concerted go at controlling this outbreak of broom over the next three years. Agencies and contractors will continue to work together to treat areas of concern targeting willows, broom, and blackberries. 

The EGCMA is partnering with Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), Moogji Natural Resource Management Crew and DELWP to help with revegetation and weed control works to improve public access sites, encourage stronger riverbanks, and prevent erosion. This work is part of a greater collaborative effort underway over the next three years in the Tambo, Nicholson, Snowy and Far East catchments.

With over 100kms of fencing replaced along waterways following the bushfires, the EGCMA continues to assist landholders in their efforts to replace fencing.

Community events following the bushfires have proven very popular and well received by East Gippsland communities. These have included boat trips, walk and talks as well as community BBQs. These will continue with the focus on informing the community about recovery projects in their areas as well as listening to community concerns.

We acknowledge the traditional owners of country throughout East Gippsland and pay our respects to them, their culture and their Elders past, present and future.