The Action Plan for Australian freshwater fishes
- the Australian Society for Fish Biology (ASFB) has developed a formal process for listing or delisting threatened fish species; and
- the ASFB list is updated annually using the best available information;
this Action Plan recommends that the ASFB listing be recognised and used as the basis for all other lists. Furthermore it is recommended that the society continue its practice of annually forwarding its listing to the Australian Committee on Live Fish (ACOLF) and hence to the Standing Committee on Fisheries.
- some States (eg Victoria and Queensland) have developed individual conservation status listings; and
- these state listings may be used in determining priorities for research;
this Action Plan recommends that individual States recognise the national ASFB listing when developing priorities for action within that state.
- the commonwealth Endangered Species Protection Act 1992 has been passed;
this Action Plan recommends that the Endangered Species Scientific Subcommittee established by the Act refer to the ASFB listing to regularly update Schedule 1 of the Act. This action plan also recommends that Appendix I and II of the CITES listing, and the Australian and New Zealand Environmental Conservation Council (ANZECC) list of Endangered Vertebrate Fauna, be updated in the same manner.
- several taxa on the threatened species list have not been formally described;
this Action Plan recommends that formal descriptions be prepared for these species as a matter of priority.
- the ASFB listing uses largely qualitative information to define its conservation status categories; and
- several authors (eg Mace and Lande 1991, Millsap et al. 1990) have recommended more objective and quantitative schemes for categorising threatened species;
this Action Plan recommends that the ASFB Threatened Fishes Committee investigate the possible adoption of a more objective system as a matter of priority.
- the Australian Constitution provides that land use and nature conservation responsibilities reside mainly in the States and Territories; and
- all states do not have legislation to ensure the adequate protection of threatened species through the protection of habitat or the control of threatening processes; and
- the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 allows for the protection of species, communities and habitat; and allows for the control of threatening processes; and has provisions for public participation;
this Action Plan recommends that all States and Territories adopt legislation similar to the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act.
- feral fishes may form economically important recreational fisheries; and
- feral fishes are responsible for, or implicated in, the decline of several species listed in this Action Plan;
this Action Plan recommends that cost benefit decision protocols be developed for the introduction of exotic angling species already in Australia to any new waters, and that this protocol be applied on a national basis. Exotic angling species must not be introduced to waters containing threatened fishes.
- the major factor limiting the development of adequate Species Recovery Outlines for threatened fishes remains a lack of basic biological data; and
- habitat degradation remains the primary reason for species declines;
this Action Plan recommends that funding bodies allocate funds to research the habitat requirements of threatened fishes according to the priorities given in the Species Recovery Outlines of this report.
- there is little systematic long term monitoring of fish populations; and
- a species usually becomes threatened before research becomes a priority (eg Trout Cod, Mary River Cod, Honey Blue-eye) and this limits the options for implementing recovery techniques (eg development of captive breeding techniques, etc);
this Action Plan recommends that long term monitoring programs be established for all threatened fishes. This should include species in the ESP Vulnerable and Poorly Known categories (or ASFB Rare and Unknown categories), so that declining fish stocks can be identified and action taken before species are threatened with extinction.
- research and subsequent recovery actions for many of the threatened fishes given in the Species Recovery Outlines are of a long term nature; and
- habitat management and protection will be a continuing requirement for the conservation of many species;
this Action Plan recommends that Federal, State and Territory Governments make long-term commitments to provide sufficient staff and funds to carry out the necessary work.
- Species Recovery Outlines are unlikely to succeed without community support (particularly from local land holders); and
- threatening processes will continue unless community attitudes change;
this Action Plan recommends that Federal, State and Territory Governments give priority to education programs that emphasise the effects of threatening processes on the conservation status of freshwater fishes. This may most effectively be implemented through existing Land Care and Integrated Catchment Management infrastructures in most states. It is also recommended that implementation of recovery actions be well publicised, and that the electronic media, particularly television, be used more effectively to reach broader community groups.
- several species considered in this Action Plan have distributions encompassing more than one State or Territory; and
- successful recovery actions for these species will require coordinated action between the States or Territories;
this Action Plan recommends that, where required, responsible organisations from each State or Territory should liaise and form committees to manage individual species recovery actions.
- the ASFB listing is updated annually with a number of species being added or recategorised each year; and
- a number of research activities related to threatened fishes are presently underway;
it is recommended that this Action Plan be reviewed and updated where necessary after five years.