Native fish management in the Murray-Darling Basin has taken a series of twists and turns since the River Murray Waters Agreement was signed over 100 years ago. Floods, drought, alien invaders and major human interventions have all had their impacts. Current, and future, generations of fisheries scientists and water managers now face an uphill battle to recover populations and build resilience in a heavily modified environment. Undaunted, well perhaps slightly daunted, managers and scientists have worked together to develop and implement a range of initiatives over the past few decades, resulting in some significant turning points for native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin.
We will reflect on the legacy of the Native Fish Strategy, an initiative with lofty goals and a long-term vision, which was highly regarded but unfortunately short-lived. The benefits, and risks, of The Living Murray program will be discussed and we will demonstrate how it has shaped environmental water management in the River Murray System. The development of the Basin-wide Watering Strategy under the Basin Plan, and its continuing implementation through the Basin-wide Annual Watering Priorities is the latest step in water management to support native fish recovery. We will discuss the importance of science in the development of the Strategy and its continuing implementation through the Basin-wide Annual Watering Priorities. Finally, we will contemplate the risks and opportunities for native fish of possible future basin-scale interventions and how these may contribute to an upwards trajectory for native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin.