Native Fish Recovery Strategy

icon of native fish

Basin governments, community, First Nations, recreational fishers and scientists have developed a Native Fish Recovery Strategy. The Strategy provides a high-level framework to guide future investment. It emphasises community engagement and ownership, focusing on recovering rivers of Basin-scale significance in a way that complements existing initiatives and can be found here: https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/governance/native-fish-recovery-strategy .

The Native Fish Recovery Strategy recognises that native fish move, breed and complete their life cycles over Basin-scales. This means that having healthy native fish populations in any given river is largely dependent on the health of native fish populations in connected catchments. The Strategy calls for

Basin governments, community, First Nations, recreational fishers and scientists have developed a Native Fish Recovery Strategy. The Strategy provides a high-level framework to guide future investment. It emphasises community engagement and ownership, focusing on recovering rivers of Basin-scale significance in a way that complements existing initiatives and can be found here: https://www.mdba.gov.au/publications/governance/native-fish-recovery-strategy .

The Native Fish Recovery Strategy recognises that native fish move, breed and complete their life cycles over Basin-scales. This means that having healthy native fish populations in any given river is largely dependent on the health of native fish populations in connected catchments. The Strategy calls for investment in actions that complement state activities and maximise outcomes at local, regional and Basin-scales through coordinated efforts.

The Strategy has a 30-year horizon to 2050, with 10-year implementation stages that aim to achieve four broad outcomes:

  • Outcome One: Recovery and persistence of native fish
  • Outcome Two: Threats to native fish are identified and mitigated
  • Outcome Three: Communities are actively involved in native fish recovery
  • Outcome Four: Recovery actions are informed by best available knowledge.

Developing partnerships is a core element of the Strategy, so that First Nations people, recreational fishers, conservation groups, industry and the broader community can lead on-ground actions to recover native fish populations and invest in local economies. This will increase our joint knowledge-base, help to find novel solutions, improve capacity and promote community participation.

During the development of the Strategy we published monthly updates to allow the community to follow along in our progress towards finalising the Strategy and incorporating feedback. As we move into implementation, we will continue publishing these updates in our news feed - and can also be contacted at NFRS@mdba.gov.au if you have any suggestions or queries.


  • June update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    05 Jul 2020

    The Native Fish Recovery Strategy has been released!

    On the 23rd of June, following Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council endorsement, the Native Fish Recovery Strategy was published.

    The Native Fish Recovery Strategy and summary brochure are now available from the MDBA website.

    The MDBA would like to thank all of the Basin governments representatives, community members, First Nations peoples, recreational fishers and scientists who have contributed to the development of the Strategy.

    The public submissions we received are now available here. We will soon be publishing a summary of those submissions and our responses on this page.

    Our thoughts are now turning to implementation. We are working with our Steering Group, which includes representatives from Basin jurisdictions and First Nations, to get cracking on projects that will help recover our native fish.

    It will be important to build partnerships between all levels of government, the private sector, industry and communities to encourage investment and help deliver the actions that will recover native fish for future generations.

    Everybody has a role to play. To keep up to date, ask questions, and find further information on the Native Fish Recovery Strategy, keep this page in your Bookmarks. You can also visit the MDBA website and Finterest website for even more information on native fish recovery actions in the Murray-Darling Basin.

  • May update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    02 Jun 2020

    This month the NFRS project team have been finalising the Strategy and incorporating all of the great feedback we received during the public consultation process. We worked with our Steering Group and Advisory Groups to tackle some of the more complex suggestions we received and properly address concerns expressed in submissions.

    Over the past week the document has also been made more appealing and accessible, with the inclusion of several more photos and diagrams. This work allowed the Steering Group to see what the final Strategy would look like and secured their agreement to endorse the Strategy– a huge milestone for the team.

    With fish deaths events still taking place in the Basin, the need for a long-term Strategy to build native fish resilience and coordinate on-ground actions couldn’t be clearer. The next step will be to submit the Strategy to the Basin Officials Committee (BOC) in early June. BOC is made up of government representatives from all State and Territory Basin partners. The NFRS team intend to put forward a strong case to secure funding for the Strategy’s implementation.

    We would like to thank everybody for getting involved and providing submissions on the draft Strategy – your assistance has led to a more refined and robust Strategy to take forward to Basin governments for consideration and implementation. We hope to share the final Strategy with you shortly.

  • April update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    04 May 2020

    On Tuesday 14 April the public submissions period for the draft Native Fish Recovery Strategy closed. We received over 60 submissions from a diverse array of stakeholders, ranging from First Nations peoples, anglers, water management organisations, community members and scientists.

    Feedback was generally positive with messages that the Strategy provided a good foundation to ‘Get on with implementing’ on ground actions. Many submissions provided useful insights on the challenges, threats and key actions required at local scales with valuable suggestions on how we can better involve community. Check out our Get Involved page for the full set of submissions, noting we could only publish where permission was given.

    The next step for the NFRS team is to incorporate this feedback into the final strategy. To inform amendments to the draft Strategy we held teleconferences with our Steering Group, Cultural and Technical Advisory Groups to discuss feedback and how we could incorporate it. The Cultural and Technical advisory groups also supplemented submissions feedback with their own observations on the Strategy, providing insights on where additional context would be useful.

    Considering the volume of feedback received, the need to give submissions their due consideration and the difficulties associated with working from home, the Steering Group agreed to push back the release of the final strategy until June.

    Overall it was great to get confirmation from Basin communities that the draft Native Fish Recovery Strategy is hitting the mark. We would like to thank everyone who contributed to providing a submission, especially during this tumultuous time. With your help this strategy will help recovery our native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin.

    As always, if there are any questions please send us an email at NFRS@mdba.gov.au or post an enquiry on our GetInvolved page.

  • March update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    01 Apr 2020

    On 10 March the draft Native Fish Recovery Strategy was publicly released on the MDBA’s GetInvolved site for submissions. This was a big milestone for the team, representing many months of work running workshops, collaborating with our Cultural and Technical Advisory Groups and the multi-jurisdictional Steering Group, incorporating online feedback and collating insights from previous strategies, research, plans and programs.

    Following release of the draft Strategy there has been good traffic on our GetInvolved page (with over 500 visits), however, fewer than 20 submissions have been received.

    We have heard from a number of stakeholders that they have had trouble submitting surveys, due to the website freezing. We have since undertaken some bug fixes and recommend that people access the survey via Google Chrome or Firefox. Submissions can also be sent straight to NFRS@mdba.gov.au if preferred.

    In addition, we have decided to extend the submission period by a week, to close on the 14 April. Given the major disruption currently caused by COVID-19 this extension will provide more opportunity for stakeholders to send through feedback.

    For this Strategy to succeed it is vital that the priorities and needs of all stakeholders are reflected within the document. Once submissions close feedback will be incorporated into the final document, which will be released in May 2020.

    It is important to note that the development of the Strategy is a first step in an adaptive, evolving process. Ongoing engagement will be a core element of the Strategy from its finalisation through to its implementation. We aim to build enduring partnerships with communities to design and implement on-ground actions for our native fish.

  • February update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    03 Mar 2020

    It’s been another busy month for the Native Fish Recovery team as we refine the draft Strategy for public consultation. With the Strategy to be released in early March our Joint Government Steering Group have met frequently to refine content and ensure it is relevant for communities and government.

    We have also been working closely with members of our Cultural Advisory Group (CAG) to develop a clear section which articulates First Nations perspectives and the needs of Traditional Owners with respect to native fish in the Basin. In addition, we have been working to better understand recreational fishers perspectives on native fish recovery and how we can include their insights within the Strategy.

    Our Technical Advisory Group (TAG) have been applying their varied and broad expertise on fish and river ecology to articulate the status of native fish in the Basin. This work will help us to identify realistic outcomes for fish, and projects which will address historic declines in numbers.

    We have also been making an effort to get out into the Basin, heading along to the OzFish “Thinking Fish” event in Dubbo on 25 February. This event was the first in a series of public talks about fishing and its future across Australia with another event coming up in Wagga Wagga on the 12th of March. This seminar is a free event for community members of all ages who not only love fishing but equally love their rivers and what they give back to communities across Australia. For more info go to: https://ozfish.org.au/projects/thinking-fish-public-talks/

    After another difficult summer, it has been great to see some rivers receiving decent flows, allowing communities to once again enjoy our rivers. While heavy rain has sometimes exacerbated the impacts of fire ash in our waterways, fish have been taking advantage of flows, moving through our waterways.

    Look out for the draft Strategy in March on the MDBA’s GetInvolved page – we are eager to get feedback from a broad range of stakeholders across the Basin. The draft Strategy will remain open to public submissions until early April after which they will be collated and incorporated into the final Strategy.


  • January Update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    31 Jan 2020

    During January the Native Fish Recovery Strategy team have been focused on developing & refining content for the draft Strategy which will be released for public feedback in early March. Workshops were held with the Technical Advisory Group (TAG), Cultural Advisory Group (CAG) to inform content. Both groups play an advisory role for the strategy, with the TAG comprised of technical experts & scientists, and the CAG comprised of representatives from various Aboriginal nations and organisations within the Basin.

    Expert input from these advisory groups was supplemented by outcomes from the targeted stakeholder workshops and findings of the online survey held late last year. The survey highlighted several key considerations for the Native Fish Recovery Strategy (NFRS). Most notably, respondents agreed that for the Strategy to succeed it would need to build on the success of the 2003 Native Fish Strategy and re-engage with community. Further, the new NFRS must incorporate a holistic approach to managing rivers. It will be critical to consider how those systems will be impacted by climate change and a strong emphasis was also placed on the need to increase the connectivity of the river throughout the Basin and provide flows to allow passage for native fish. Respondents additionally highlighted that further research into best management practices will be important, and these insights should also incorporate Traditional Ecological Knowledge from First Nations peoples. Overall, the survey responses illustrated a strong desire for communities to be better involved in the drafting and implementation of the NFRS.

    The public survey, workshop outcomes and feedback from the public consultation process on the draft Strategy (in March) will be incorporated into the final Strategy, due for release at the end of April 2020. At this stage, it is envisaged that the Strategy will be the first step in an ongoing, adaptive process. As we move into implementation we aim to build partnerships with communities to implement on-ground actions for our native fish.

  • December Update - Native Fish Recovery Strategy

    20 Dec 2019

    Over the past few months the Native Fish Recovery Strategy team have been ramping up our engagement with the broader community and specialist stakeholder groups. In addition to our GetInvolved website and stakeholder survey, which had a good response and lots of useful feedback, several targeted stakeholder workshops have been held.

    Each workshop drew on either technical experts, water managers, or representatives from the community and industry. Around 40 people participated in each workshop, which were run by WatersEdge, the independent consultants who are drafting the Native Fish Recovery Strategy.

    We also established and held initial meetings with our technical advisory group and cultural advisory group, who are providing First Nations and science input into the strategy, to ensure it has inclusive and evidence-based objectives and actions.

    The survey, workshops and other consultations, such as dedicated sessions at national conferences, have provided a wide range of feedback and input that now needs to be collated to guide development of the Strategy. Drafting of the Native Fish Recovery Strategy, which will build on the solid foundation of the first Native Fish Strategy (published in 2003), is well underway. An exposure draft is expected to be released for further public feedback in late February 2020.

    Highlights of engagement to date include:

    · Online Presence: Get Involved website (www.getinvolved.mdba.gov.au) and online Stakeholder Survey which received 40 responses (9/09 - 3/10/19); Finterest website (www.finterest.com); dedicated NFMRS@mdba.gov.aufor people to submit feedback

    · Consultative Workshops: Technical (19/11/19); Manager (21/11/19); Community (4/12/19); NSW DPI Fisheries (10/12/19)

    · First Nations Consultation: Northern Basins Aboriginal Nations (27/11/19); Murray Lower Darling Indigenous Nations (17/09/2019); Seasonal Calendar Workshop (18/12/19)

    · Dedicated Sessions/presentations at National Conferences: Australian Society for Fish Biology (October, ACT); Riversymposium (October, QLD); Australian Freshwater Sciences Society (December, VIC); National Recreational Fishing Conference (December, TAS).

    We recognise that it is a tough summer this year, with Basin communities and ecosystems battling one of the worst droughts on record. In this busy period, we appreciate the time people have taken to provide valuable feedback and are keen to stay in touch with stakeholders throughout the process of developing the Native Fish Recovery Strategy. Watch out for related emails and articles, feel free to send further feedback via our NFRS email, and visit the websites above for the latest news on the strategy’s development.

    Engagement during development of the strategy is just the first step in an adaptive and evolving process. As we move into implementation we aim to build partnerships with communities to implement on-ground actions for our native fish.