By John WhiteleyA wildebeest, a sea urchin, and a rare species of turtle all pose a significant threat to freshwater fish in Australia’s vast freshwater reserves.
But how do you manage these issues when the environment is so unpredictable?
“I think that the problem of fish and invertebrates in the ecosystem has been exacerbated by the way the environment has been regulated, and I think that is really the biggest threat to fish and animals,” Professor Chris MacLean from the University of Queensland told the ABC’s RN Breakfast.
“The way that we manage our ecosystems is to limit their impacts and the way we manage them is to manage the impact of our fish and the impact on our ecosystem.”
Professor MacLean is a leading expert in invertebrate conservation and was recently named one of the world’s 100 most influential people.
His research has found that over the past two decades, the number of freshwater fish species threatened with extinction in Australia has increased by more than 80 per cent.
Professor Maclean believes that the main cause of this increase is habitat degradation, especially in wetlands and estuaries, where water is being diverted to irrigate agriculture.
“There is no doubt that if you are looking at a significant increase in water use over the last two decades it has been associated with a decrease in fish populations,” he said.
“And that is because of our dams, we are seeing an increase in agricultural irrigation, which is a major factor in reducing water availability for fish.”
We are not seeing the changes in water availability in the areas where we are trying to manage them that we are hoping to.
“Prof MacLean believes that by focusing on improving water management, conservation is a better long-term strategy than conservation itself.”
What is the best conservation strategy?
What is the conservation strategy that will achieve the greatest benefit for our species, and that is what I think we need to focus on,” he told RN Breakfast’s Steve O’Connell.”
Because what is happening is that the species that are being threatened are being managed in a way that is not sustainable and that has a big impact on the ecosystem.
“Prof McLean’s research is one of a number of new projects that are trying a different approach to protecting freshwater fish and their habitats.”
It’s an opportunity for me to explore what we can do to address some of the most challenging issues in the conservation of fish in the Australian environment, and there are a lot of areas where there is a lot that we need doing, a lot more research, and we will need more funding to do that,” he explained.”
So that is one area where there are some really interesting things that are happening.
“A lot of my research is about fish conservation and how we can manage fish populations in the most efficient way that they can be managed.”
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