Murray-Darling river: Solutions

Following lobbying by WWF, the national government is finally developing a 'National Framework to Prevent and Control Invasive Species' and has developed a list of policy, coordination, prevention, early warning, rapid response, eradication and containment and control measures that should be implemented.
Previous national policies for weeds and feral animals focused on ineffectual 'control' programmes and ad hoc selections of species that had already escaped.

Native Fish Management Strategy
The Murray Darling Basin Commission has developed a Native Fish Management Strategy which responds to the key threats to native fish populations in the Murray-Darling basin including the introduction of alien fish species, the spread of diseases, and translocation and stocking of fish.

The overall goal of this Strategy is to rehabilitate native fish communities in the basin to 60% of their estimated pre-European settlement levels, 50 years after implementation.

Authorities are experimenting with three forms of European carp control - including increasing the variability of river flows so that native fish recruitment increases and carp eggs are killed, harvesting carp for use as food, fertilizer and commercial products (including trapping carp in fish ladders), and biological control through the use of a virus known as Spring Viraemia which exists naturally in carp populations in Europe.

Water for Life campaign
In addition, WWF’s Water for Life campaign seeks to ensure that Australia’s over-allocated river and groundwater systems receive the necessary additional water to become ecologically healthy, to restore environmental flows, and to protect high conservation value systems from degradation through the National Water Initiative and National Water Commission, established in 2004.

The most effective invasive species management is to prevent initial introduction. This needs to occur at different scales ranging from effective national quarantine programmes, to activities at the national, provincial, river basin and site scale.

WWF is working with Australian government agencies to fill gaps in the national quarantine law, create a comprehensive early warning surveillance programme, and develop contingency plans to manage new incursions of aquatic pests.

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