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National Water Commission - decision support tool to sustain native fish populations

  National Water Commission - decision support tool to sustain native fish populations

The Optimising Environmental Watering Protocols to Benefit Native Fish Populations was a collaborative project that was undertaken by the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre (MDFRC), a multi-disciplinary research organisation based in Wodonga, Victoria, in partnership with the Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research (Department of Sustainability and Environment, Victoria) and that was funded by the National Water Commission under the Raising National Water Standards program.

The project aimed to provide critical information to water managers on how to make best use of environmental water to sustain native fish populations. Wetlands are important for fish, but are typically watered for other biotic components, such as birds and vegetation.

In the limited instances where fish are a management objective, watering is often undertaken to maintain wetlands as refuges, based on limited knowledge of fish habitat requirements. Beyond refuge maintenance, managers have limited information on how to water wetlands for positive fish outcomes.

The scarcity of information on the response of native fish to inundation events prevents water managers from setting applicable management objectives. As part of the project, a predictive decision-support tool - the Fish in wetlands Decision Support Tool (FWDST) - that would enable managers to make informed decisions regarding timing, duration and depth of inundation and method of water delivery to maximise benefits to native fish communities in river-floodplain ecosystems, was developed.

It is anticipated that predictions of fish responses would help inform both the prioritisation of wetland watering actions and decisions about the timing, magnitude and delivery of water to wetlands.

The 'Fish in Wetlands Decision Support Tool' (FWDST) consists of four species-specific Bayesian network models, namely:

  • CARP - A Common carp ( Cyprinus carpio ) model;
  • GOLDEN PERCH - A golden perch ( Macquaria ambigua ) model;
  • GUDGEON - A carp gudgeon ( Hypseleotris spp.) model;
  • SMELT - An Australian smelt ( Retropinna semoni ) model.


PDFFWDST User Manual (3639 KB)

ZIPFWDST neta files (176 KB)

XLSMFWDST Improvement Tool (56 KB)