Discovering Powlett’s Life Aquatic
Published: 15 January 2024

Discovering Powlett’s Life Aquatic

The Powlett River and its six main tributaries are precious waterways and West Gippsland Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is now one step closer to discovering more about life below their surface with results from a Spring survey of aquatic life across the catchment just in. 

Recognised as a priority waterway for West Gippsland, the Powlett, known as Kugerungmome by Bunurong Traditional Owners, has a total catchment area of 50,800 hectares and, along with Lance Creek, supplies water for townships including Wonthaggi, Inverloch and Cape Paterson. 

“We’re excited to have completed this first baseline survey as part of the Powlett River Kugerungmome Partnerships project,” said Martin Fuller, CEO of West Gippsland CMA. 

“Having the team record a diversity of native species is very encouraging. This survey will help us and our partners in the future management of this catchment.” 

The survey took samples at sites along the main river and its main tributaries of Foster, Lance, West, Archies, Bridge and Woolshed Creeks to provide a good spatial understanding of the river’s aquatic animals and plants.

The team used a variety of sampling methods suited to the river conditions at each location including backpack electrofishing, hand-held dip-netting and bait traps, along with audio and visual observation.

“Whilst the catchment lays entirely within agricultural land, it was heartening to discover healthy fish populations in some of the waterways,” said Paula Camenzuli, Natural Resource Management Strategic Planner for West Gippsland CMA. 

“Species recorded include Common galaxias, Tupong, Southern shortfinned eel, Freshwater shrimp and Burrowing crayfish and we are also pleased that no introduced fish species were found,” Paula said.  

Follow up surveys are planned for Autumn 2024 and results will be shared with project partners to provide valuable information on the condition of Powlett River and its tributaries and how best to work together to manage and protect them. 

Powlett River Kugerungmome Partnerships project is a joint initiative led by West Gippsland CMA and involves Bunurong Land Council Aboriginal Corporation, Bass Coast Landcare Network, Birdlife Australia, Friends of Hooded Plover Bass Coast, Trust for Nature and Parks Victoria and is funded by the Victorian Government’s Our Catchments Our Communities program.