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Instream snags (logs) and other fish habitats were the focus of the Gellibrand Estuary Fish ‘n’ Snags event on Saturday 28th November at Princetown.

Hosted by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)’s Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) and the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority (CMA), the event was to raise awareness of fish species that live in the Gellibrand Estuary, their habitat needs, and actions to improve waterways to support healthy, self-sustaining fish populations.

The event was jointly funded by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and the Victorian Government using Recreational Fishing Licence Fees.

Corangamite CMA Catchment Coordinator, Gene Gardiner, spoke about changes to the Gellibrand Estuary. “During European settlement, large native Blackwoods and other plants were cleared along riverbanks and logs were removed from the river,” Mr Gardiner said.

“These days, Corangamite CMA and the community are working together to improve the health of the river by installing log structures into the river and replanting riverbanks with native trees.

The Gellibrand River catchment is home to many fish species, including popular recreational fish species like Estuary perch, Black Bream, River Blackfish and Trout, as well as the threatened Australian Grayling.

ARI aquatic scientist Renae Ayres said “Some fish species live in either fresh or salt water, whilst others migrate between salt or fresh water.

“Throughout their lifecycle, fish need to be able to access a range of habitats for shelter, food and breeding. By providing and improving instream and riverbank habitats, we can help support and grow our fish populations naturally.”

A highlight of the day was seeing the various methods scientists use to research fish. A boat-electrofishing demonstration gave people the opportunity to get up close and personal with several species of fish that were collected, including Estuary Perch, Tupong, Brown Trout, Flathead Gudgeon and Common Galaxias.

The day was enjoyed by about 60 people who travelled from as far as Colac and Warrnambool. Many community groups were represented including Lake Purrumbete Angling Club, Colac Angling Club, Port Campbell Boating Club, Princetown Landcare, Princetown EstuaryWatch, Princetown Waterwatch, Land and Water Resources Otway Catchment Landcare, VRFish and the Australian Trout Foundation.

Just like our fish enjoy a good snag, attendees had the opportunity to do the same complements of the great barbeque put on by the Lions Club of Colac.

“It’s wonderful that the community is so passionate and active in caring for their local waterway,” Ms Ayres said

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