Standard Talk (15 mins) Australian Society for Fish Biology Conference 2022

Finding water: locating the remaining refuges for fish in Western NSW at the peak of the 2018-2020 drought (#169)

Karen F Danaher 1 , Tony Townsend 2 , Iain Ellis 3
  1. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wollongbar, NSW, Australia
  2. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tamworth, NSW, Australia
  3. NSW Department of Primary Industries, Buronga, NSW, Australia

In early 2020 during the peak of the most recent drought across the Murray-Darling Basin, major rivers in Western NSW had stopped flowing and were reduced to disconnected pools. At the time, NSW DPI Fisheries used satellite and aerial imagery to identify pools in which fish were at risk of succumbing to poor water quality or drying. This process also assisted in guiding related extreme event management response actions, including artificial aeration and fish rescues, which were implemented through the NSW Native Fish Drought Response framework. In preparation for future drought events, identification of the remaining refuges has been extended to more than 7,000 kilometres of river channels in Western NSW. Several rivers had reaches in excess of 200 kilometres with no available habitat for fish. We present the methods used to identify the fish habitat using available satellite imagery, the limitations of the methods and the results.