The larger rivers originate in steep mountains on the northern and eastern sides of the Basin. They flow through extensive plains and discharge into Western Port. Annual rainfall over most of the area is 700-1,000 mm with higher falls 1,000-1,400 mm in the northern, forested area and lower falls 600-700 mm in the southern end of Mornington Peninsula. Most of the Basin has been cleared for agriculture with intensive irrigation and cropping in the south, particularly on Mornington Peninsula, which has many vineyards irrigated from local streams.
Almost all of the waterways carry good populations of small-sized native fish, particularly galaxiids, but there are few angling opportunities except in the upper Bunyip River, which carries some small brown trout and some good sized river blackfish, and the Tarago River with brown trout and river blackfish. Tarago Reservoir is the largest water storage but is closed to angling. The closure is currently under review.
Freshwater Fish in the Basin
- (Large fish): Australian grayling, Gippsland spiny crayfish, long-finned eel, river blackfish, short-finned eel and Yarra spiny crayfish.
- (Small fish): Australian smelt, bluespot goby, climbing galaxias, common galaxias, congoli, eastern dwarf galaxias, flathead gudgeon, mountain galaxias, pouch lamprey, shorthead lamprey, southern pygmy perch, trout galaxias, and Yarra pygmy perch.
- Brown trout, eastern gambusia, European carp, goldfish, oriental weatherloach, rainbow trout, redfin and roach.
Native species in bold are protected in this Basin. Introduced species in bold are declared noxious.
The most significant feature of the fish populations in the Basin is the predominance of native species in large sections of some creeks and throughout the entire length of others. There are also numerous streams on the Mornington Peninsula with up to four galaxiid species present. European carp are also absent from most of the rivers, occurring only in a few creeks draining into Port Phillip Bay. Australian grayling and eastern dwarf galaxias also occur in the Basin.
See Introduction for information on Management Agencies and Programs.
The Victorian Fisheries Authority
- manages stocking, fisheries policy, compliance with fisheries regulations and contact with anglers.
- Fisheries Management Plan (FMP) (a recent project that provides recreational anglers, government agencies and other stakeholders with clear guidance on fisheries management issues with a regional area over a five year period).
A FMP for waters within this Basin has been completed and was declared in November 2009. It can be viewed on the website Fisheries Victoria Management Report Series. Port Phillip and Western Port Management Plan. No. 69. November 2009.
- Stocking Program (stocking plans for desirable species are based on an approved Victorian Fisheries Authority stocking policy and are reviewed annually via Vic Fish Stock). In this Basin, all the rivers carry self-sustaining populations of fish and stocking is not considered necessary.
Up-to-date information on numbers and size of each species stocked can be found under Fish Stocking in the Fisheries and Aquaculture section of this website or in the annual Vic Fish Stock Report published by the department.
- Family Fishing Lakes Program (an ongoing project of stocking small waters within urban areas with larger trout, for junior and disabled anglers – see Introduction for further information). The waters in this basin are Casey Fields near Cranbourne, Karkarook Lake and Rowville Lakes.
- Victorian Stream Classification (a project that was completed in November 2010, which classifies each water as a native, salmonid or mixed fishery). Classifications relevant to this basin are:
- Mixed - Waters north of Princes Highway including Tarago and Bunyip rivers and tributaries, Dandenong, Cardinia, Cannibal and Labertouche creeks. Waters south west of Dandenong Hasting Road including Main, Stony, Merricks and Balcombe creeks and Devilbend Reservoir.
- Native - Waters south of Princes Highway including Cardinia, Toomuc and Yaloak creeks, Main Drain, and Lang Lang and Paterson rivers.
Port Phillip & Westernport Catchment Management Authority
- responsible for catchment management and the Victorian River Health Program.
- Victorian River Health Program (an on-going State Government initiative to achieve healthy rivers, streams and floodplains). Major activities are removal of willow and pest plants and the protection of banks by fencing, re-establishing native vegetation and engineering works when necessary. Work has taken place in the Cardinia and Deep Creeks and in the Lang Lang River.
Gippsland & Southern Rural Water
- manages farm and irrigation water diversion and development of Stream Flow Management Plans.
- Stream Flow Management Plans (an ongoing project in which various agencies and water user's develop a flow sharing arrangement which ensures an adequate environmental flow allocation for each river in Victoria). A Stream Flow Management Plan is underway for Main Creek.
- manages urban water diversion.
(wetlands of international significance - Convention on Wetlands, Ramsar, Iran 1971)
Western Port, which is the receiving body for most of the water flowing out of this Basin, and the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands.
Threatened Fish Species
The Australian grayling, eastern dwarf galaxias and the Yarra pygmy perch are listed as threatened species in Victoria. (Department of Sustainability and Environment [DSE] Dec. 2007). A list of Victorian threatened species together with scientific names of species, a definition of the terms used and their national status is available on the DSE web site.
Species in bold type are also listed under the Flora & Fauna Guarantee Act 1988. These species cannot be taken or kept within Victoria without an appropriate written order, licence or permit.
Best Fishing Waters
upstream of the Princes Highway
|Small brown trout, river blackfish|
downstream of Tarago Reservoir
|River blackfish, brown trout|