Staff from The Murray–Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC) and La Trobe University Mildura, in collaboration with Lower Murray Water, rescued a school of 13 lucky freshwater catfish from an irrigation supply channel at Nichols Point.

Freshwater catfish are a threatened species in Victoria and population levels have faced a strong decline in recent years.

“We know there is a population in the Kings Billabong at Mildura and many local channels,” said Paul Brown. who is an Associate Professor for Freshwater Ecology at MDFRC and La Trobe University.

“But for threatened fish species populations like these local freshwater catfish, every fish is precious.”

The fish were trapped when the water supply to the channel was turned off for essential maintenance.

Any fish unfortunate enough to find themselves in the channel had little water left to swim in and their future looked bleak. A road underpass near Nichols Point Primary School was one of the few remaining water holes.

Fortunately enough, a member of the public recognised the catfish swimming amongst lots of carp and reported it.

Lower Murray Water (LMW) were contacted, a rescue plan proposed, and Fisheries Victoria at Swan Hill gave the green light to move the fish. LMW staff pumped the water out and MDFRC’s Braeden Lampard scooped out the precious catfish.

“This is a great outcome from the rapid response and collaboration of all the agencies involved,” said Michael Lindeman from Lower Murray Water.

Along with rescuing the 13 catfish, Braeden also located two small golden perch. The valuable native fish were all relocated to the nearby Kings Billabong.

The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC) was established in 1986 and has become one of Australia’s leading sources of scientific advice on freshwater ecological systems. The MDFRC has a vision of: Healthy and productive aquatic ecosystems in the Murray-Darling Basin. The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre is a Joint Venture between CSIRO and La Trobe University.