Further surveys will be conducted in the lower Mackenzie Creek and Burnt Creek later this year.NOXIOUS European carp have returned to the upper Mackenzie Creek after not being seen in the waterway since the late 1990s.
Wimmera Catchment Management Authority contracted Biosis Research to survey a section of the waterway between Dad and Dave’s and Distribution Heads weirs near the north-west edge of the Grampians during April and May.
During the survey the consultants caught 182 carp along the stretch of creek.
Authority water monitoring officer Mark Toomey said he was concerned about the finding.
“The upper Mackenzie Creek is a high-value indigenous fish area,” he said.
“At the moment it seems the carp are co-existing with native fish, but we will keep investigating the carps’ impact on the native environment in the section.
“Luckily this part of the creek is not an ideal habitat for carp, because of the colder water.”
Mr Toomey said carp were seen along the stretch of creek during the late 1990s, but died out in the following dry years.
“We’ve sampled this section of the waterway twice since 2005 and have never caught carp until now,” he said.
“After the January 2011 floods, water returned to parts of the creek where it was dry and increased connectivity along the system.
“That would have helped the carp spread.”
He said the authority was investigating ways to keep carp numbers under control in the creek.
“We don’t have any strategies in place at the moment we’re still talking with carp experts,” he said.
“We need to preserve these hot spots of native fish to give us a better chance of boosting their numbers in other parts of the Wimmera River catchment.”
As part of the survey the contractors looked at fish numbers along Mount William Creek and Salt Creek upstream of Lake Lonsdale.
Mr Toomey said no carp was found in the creeks, but the survey yielded good numbers of indigenous and native fish such as mountain galaxia, common galaxias and southern pygmy perch.
“It was good to see the barrier in Lake Lonsdale is still keeping carp from reaching these upper tributaries,” he said.
The authority will do further surveys in the lower Mackenzie Creek and Burnt Creek later this year.
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