A partnership between Gunaikurnai Traditional Owners and the state government is helping to protect a small and rare Galaxiid fish that lives mostly in our small streams.

Rangers from the Gunaikurnai Land and Waters Aboriginal Corporation (GLaWAC), together with researchers from the Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) visited bushland in the Strzelecki’s recently to monitor fish numbers, known to exist in only a very small area.

Galaxiids are struggling to survive due to several factors, including habitat destruction, and the introduction of invasive species which feed on them and outcompete them for food sources.

Fires can also have a major impact on these small fish as sediment flushed into these streams after fire can smother their habitat in sand and mud.

Gunaikurnai Ranger Jordan Harrison from GLaWAC said all fish played a vital role in river life.

“It is important to visit Country regularly and check on the health of these little fish. It is not just big fish that indicate the health of a river,” he said.

“This project is a great opportunity to blend traditional and western scientific knowledge, and it just feels good to be out protecting and healing Country.”

Together, the partnership is making plans to help these populations of rare fish survive and maybe even extend their range in the future.

This project has been funded from the state government bushfire recovery funds, administered by the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority acting chief executive Amber Clarke welcomed the partnership.

“We are pleased to provide funds for this project. Direct and early involvement of Traditional Owners on Country is important to help look after our waterways better,” she said.