Have you heard of Blue Mountains perch?
YOU have probably heard of the Macquarie perch, but have you heard of the endangered Blue Mountains perch?
The Blue Mountains perch has been found to have significant genetic differences to the Macquarie perch and could soon be classified as a separate species, rather than a variation of the species. These fish populations are only found in streams at the most eastern edge of the Central Tablelands, within the Greater Blue Mountains area. They are distinctly smaller in size, have a darker colour and sometimes mottled appearance compared to the Macquarie perch.
Blue Mountains perch populations are endemic to the Hawkesbury-Nepean, Georges River and Shoalhaven River catchments in NSW. Within the Central Tablelands populations are located along the Capertee, Coxs and Kowmung River Systems within the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area.
The species are found in the upper reaches of catchments where sediment loads are lower and deep water holes and shallow riffles exist. Their preferred habitat consists of complex rocky environments and is often found in deep rock crevices and under rocky ledges located in the shallows of pools and riffles.
Threats to the Blue Mountains perch and their habitat include instream barriers and river regulation, sedimentation, riparian damage, degraded water quality and algae outbreaks, and invasive weeds and feral fish species.
The 2019-20 bushfires have also threatened this species due to their habitat and known populations mostly occurring within the fire affected areas of the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area. The Central Tablelands Local Land Services has received funding this year to protect and conserve the Blue Mountains perch habitat by investing in improving stream management and condition up stream of these known populations.
Activities the Central Tablelands Local Land Services will be undertaking as part of this program, includes: stock-proof fencing to control stock access to water ways, alternative stock watering points where stock access to water will be lost due to new fencing and targeted planting of native trees and shrubs to enhance stream protection.