Maribyrnong River native fish revival

An exciting plan to improve fishing for all

Project overview

Our wonderful Maribyrnong River flows through the heart of the western suburbs of Melbourne fringed by a growing population of more than 2 million people. Over the last 150 years, the river has changed because of; dredging, de-snagging, removal of stream-side vegetation, installation of weirs and fords, urban runoff, point source pollution, flood mitigation and bank stabilization works. While it remains an important recreational fishery to many, its fish population has been held back by a lack of fish habitat.

The Victorian Fisheries Authority with the support of recreational fishing licence fees, the Victorian Government's $35 million Go Fishing Victoria plan Melbourne Water, Parks Victoria and Local Governments have worked together to help rebuild the rivers native fish population and, create exciting new recreational fisheries for families and their children to enjoy for generations to come.

The project focused on the mid to upper estuarine reaches of the Maribyrnong River between Flemington Racecourse and Avondale Heights.

What we have delivered

The project will help rebuild the native fish population and improve recreational fishing by improving fish habitat, fish stocking and angler access, including 7 key elements:

  1. Fish population and fish habitat surveys
  2. Consideration of a new boat launching facility on the Maribyrnong River
  3. Large-scale stocking of native estuary perch fingerlings
  4. Recreational water users study
  5. A review of existing recreational fishing access and riverside platforms
  6. Installation of secure woody fish habitat
  7. Study of early history of fishing along the Maribyrnong River

Click here to download more information about the Maribyrnong River native fish revival project.

Fish habitat installations

The VFA have successfully installed 34 in-water fish habitat structures between Flemington Racecourse to Avondale Heights.

Two different habitat types were utilised for the project – timber hybrid complexes and rocky piles. The VFA plans to perform a site survey (including sonar scans) in November 2022 to assess the condition of the newly installed habitat.

For more details about the project or gps coordinates (.kmz file) of all the habitat sites please contact

Click here or in the image above to view all the habitat locations.

Recent Estuary perch stocking

Date stockedSpeciesNumberAv. weight (g)TypeMarking
7th December 2021Estuary perch
120,0000.2NativeNot Tagged
3rd December 2019Estuary perch
60,0000.1NativeNot Tagged
10th December 2019Estuary perch
15,0001.0NativeNot Tagged
14th December 2018Estuary perch
5,0000.5NativeNot Tagged
27th November 2018Estuary perch
128,0000.3NativeNot Tagged

Early results

In 2020, under a permit, valued recreational anglers caught 38 estuary perch that ranged from 9 to 30 cm mainly in the mid reaches (Brimbank Park) of the Maribyrnong River. These fish were aged, and we found 95% of these fish were born in years that correspond with our stocking year classes. The recent installation of 34 woody and rock reefs along the Maribyrnong River will help attract and hold these stocked EP’s as they reach maturity and start migrating downstream.

Click here to view examples of estuary perch otoloths from a range of age classes.