Merri River habitat in focus

DROP IN: Steve Starling and Shane Lowery from OzFish Unlimited with two of the river red gum stumps that will be placed in the Merri River at Platypus Park in Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady
DROP IN: Steve Starling and Shane Lowery from OzFish Unlimited with two of the river red gum stumps that will be placed in the Merri River at Platypus Park in Warrnambool. Picture: Anthony Brady

PLAN are in place to put seven river red gum stumps in a popular section of the Merri River in Warrnambool.  

The stumps will go in the river near Platypus Park, off Membery Way, near Woodend Road.

The project is being driven by fishing conservation organisation OzFish Unlimited.

Members of OzFish Unlimited had the trees on display at the BCF store in Warrnambool on Saturday morning for members of the public to inspect and find out more about the project.

OzFish South West Victoria president Shane Lowery said the reaction of anglers in Warrnambool shows how willing the local fishing community is to help make a difference to the health of their river.

“We are thrilled to have the support of BCF Warrnambool who share our vision for the Merri to be healthy and productive for fish and for future generations,” Mr Lowery said.

“It’s an exceptional fishing location for the community which needs our help.” 

Mr Lowery said much had been done in the past to improve the bank side habitat.

This includes the planting of almost 1000 native shrubs and trees at Platypus Park. 

“The time is right now to work on improving the in-stream habitat,” Mr Lowery said.

“The goal is to improve fishing for recreational anglers in this part of the river.”

Mr Lowery said it is hoped the improved habitat would increase the amount of bream and perch caught.

The process of moving the stumps into the river is dependent on the condition of the river bank, with the timeline dictated by the bank being dry enough to withstand the heavy equipment needed to lift the stumps. Mr Lowery is hoping the works can take place in mid to late September.

OzFish ambassador Steve Starling was in Warrnambool on Saturday. Mr Starling said anglers have the collective power to create a secure future for the sport.

But Mr Starling warned the reality of that is unlikely unless fish habitat is nurtured.

“Without sound habitat, there will be no fish and it’s clear that the Merri needs help to create more chances for fish to breed, feed and move,” Mr Starling said.

The name, Platypus Park, has been given to the area because the mammal is common in the stretch of the river from Dennington and Grassmere. 

The goal is to improve fishing for recreational anglers in this part of the river.

Shane Lowery