Aquasave-NGT appointed to undertake a national assessment of the conservation status of Australian freshwater fish, and introducing Maiko

Australia is home to approximately 280 species of freshwater fish, many of which occur nowhere else on the plant. Yet, many Australian freshwater fish are at risk of extinction from a range of threats, with the unprecedented summer bushfires of 2019‒20 posing considerable impact most recently.

Against this backdrop, timely assessment of the conservation status of species against national Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) 1999 legislation criteria and the articulation of conservation advice is paramount to understand the level of threat posed to freshwater fish and guide recovery actions. Presently, 40 freshwater fish species are listed as threatened species nationally, but it is predicted that this figure accounts for less than half of those species that warrant national listing. This under-representation is consistent across other taxonomic groups.  

In response, the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) has initiated Species Expert Assessment Plans (SEAPs) – for freshwater fish and freshwater turtles; frogs; lizards and snakes; invertebrates; terrestrial mammals; plants and the rainforests and wet forests of south-east Australia – to accelerate the conservation assessment of Australia’s most threatened species. In recognition of its role in the conservation of many freshwater fish species and expertise with the conservation assessment process, which we are implementing for spiny crayfish, Aquasave-NGT has been appointed to undertake a Species Expert Assessment Plan (SEAP) for freshwater fish. The freshwater fish SEAP will assess the conservation status of all Australian freshwater fish, and contribute to the national listing of priority species that require urgent protection and actions to lessen the risk of extinction.

The project will be led by Nick and widely experienced fish ecologist Associate Professor Mark Lintermans. In addition, we’re pleased to announce that Maiko Lutz has joined Aquasave-NGT to help implement the project. 

Maiko Lutz has recently joined the Aquasave-NGT team

Maiko has a background in threatened species management and has worked for numerous conservation organisations such as the IUCN Red List Unit and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (UK). The project will also rely on strong collaborations with leading Australian fish ecologists to ensure conservation assessments are reliant on robust contemporary data and knowledge. It is hoped that this project will lay a sound foundation for the long-term conservation of threatened Australian freshwater fish. 

Sylvia Zukowski