Fish stranded in wetlands near Boggy Creek

Authorities will review the practice of artificially opening the Curdies River mouth after thousands of fish were left stranded in shallow water near Boggy Creek.

Volunteers and fisheries staff have been racing against time to save the thousands of bream stuck in a separate wetland after a rapid drop in river depth separated the wetland from the main channel.

Parks Victoria opened the Curdies River Estuary last week in consultation with the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority.

In a joint statement, the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority, Parks Victoria, and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources said the incident would be reviewed.

“Corangamite CMA and fisheries are looking into the event to determine if any action can be undertaken to prevent it from occurring again,” the joint statement said.

“Quick response from locals and fisheries has meant that almost all of the stranded fish were able to be relocated back into the main river channel.” 

The call was made to manually open the estuary after flooding in Peterborough and further upstream.

“This a common practice and normally occurs without issue,” the statement said.

“After consultation with CCMA and monitoring of water quality, last week Parks Victoria opened the estuary. Natural conditions resulted in the channel deepening and the water levels in the river dropping quickly.”

Corangamite Shire councillor Simon Illingworth was among the volunteers relocating fish on Tuesday and said the incident showed the unpredictable nature of the south west’s river systems.

Cr Illingworth said while the science behind artificial openings was complex, a different approach was needed to help prevent a similar situation happening again in the future.

“There’s a million factors in this, I get it,” he said.

“(But) the management of it has got to be looked at. It’s not good enough.”

Volunteers are planning to continue the work relocating fish on Wednesday.

Corangamite CMA and Fisheries are looking into the event to determine if any action can be undertaken to prevent it from occurring again.