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Wimmera CMA

Street Address:
24 Darlot Street, Horsham, 3400
(enter via Gleed St)

Postal Address:
PO Box 479, Horsham, VIC, 3402
Phone: (03) 5382 1544
Fax: (03) 5382 6076
Office Hours:
Monday to Friday, 8:30 - 5:00pm
(excluding Public Holidays and Christmas - New Year Closure.  Office may also be closed for short periods Monday mornings)


Wimmera angler project uses eDNA to find fish and support research

Aug 31, 2017
Greg Fletcher and Kelvin Robinson testing for eDNA Greg Fletcher and Kelvin Robinson taking
samples from the Wimmera River.

An innovative new project between Wimmera Anglers Association and Wimmera CMA is helping anglers find the best fishing spots while giving researchers an insight into how fish are responding to environmental flows.

Volunteers from the anglers association, a strong fishing advocate for the region for thirty five years, are collecting samples along the Wimmera River for researchers to test using the latest eDNA technology. So far the project has pinpointed areas where yellowbelly and catfish are in high numbers, and will continue to monitor the populations to measure the impact of environmental water.

The eDNA technology was pioneered in the Wimmera for platypus research in 2015 and Wimmera CMA is now using it to track a growing number of fish species including carp, yellow belly and catfish. The work is part of a project funded by the Victorian Environmental Water Holder (VEWH).

Wimmera CMA waterways officer Greg Fletcher said this was one of several examples of the valuable contribution citizen science was making to regional environmental data.

“The Wimmera has benefited from citizen science for many years, with one of the oldest Waterwatch groups in Victoria starting in Jeparit more than 21 years ago,” he said.

“This has further expanded, particularly in the last six months, with people using the new platypusSPOT app for platypus sightings and taking photo-point images then tagging us on social media to help us monitor changes along the river.

“We’re really excited to be working with the anglers association. It not only provides us valuable resources to help monitor a larger area, it gives us another opportunity to hear from the community about the things that are important to them.”  

Wimmera Anglers Association president Kelvin Robinson said the group was excited to be involved in a project using the latest technology. As well as benefiting anglers, he said it had given him a new appreciation and understanding of environmental flows and the work Wimmera CMA does to improve the health of the river. 

“Working with the CMA means we have more information we can share with our members and by us being involved, it could also help the region access more government funding for projects that benefit fishing,” he said.

Kelvin Robinson samples eDNA from the Wimmera River

Kelvin and association secretary Barry Williams have so far taken samples from a 17 kilometre section of the lower Wimmera River and this month plan to do more. They took their samples from a boat which meant they were able to cover more area in a shorter amount of time.

“We know the river really well, so it was logical for us to get in the boat and do the sampling. It’s really interesting and fascinating. You can give the CMA 100 millilitres of water and what they can get out of that sample with this eDNA is mind blowing, it really is.”

Kelvin said they welcomed more volunteers to join them for future monitoring.

“It’s a great day out and you’re making a big contribution to getting a better understanding of our river. I didn’t really understand why they were sending environmental flows down the river but I can see now how they work and how they’re benefiting the river. The flows helped look after pools with fish in them during the dry and now we’ve had rain it’s just looking so good. Anything that helps make fishing in the Wimmera more sustainable, we want to be part of it.”

Josh Griffiths from Melbourne-based environmental research company cesar has provided sample collection training to the anglers.

Josh said further research since using eDNA for platypus in 2015 had enabled them to expand the technique to monitor fish.

“It’s pretty exciting to see how this technology has developed over the past couple of years and how we are now able to work with the community on projects like this Wimmera angling one. Our ultimate goal in the future is to be able to take a water sample and identify everything that lives within that water body.”