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GIANT FRESHWATER CRAYFISH PROJECT

This project idea was inspired by Kentish Councillor (and former Deputy Mayor) Don Thwaites, who on several occasions has observed giant freshwater crayfish walking across Union Bridge Road in the Minnow Catchment.

The Giant Freshwater Crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) is the largest freshwater crayfish in the world, and is found only in rivers in the north of Tasmania.  It is listed as an endangered species on the IUCN Red List due to overfishing and habitat degradation, and it has been prohibited to catch the crayfish since 1998.   The crayfish move up and down streams for feeding and breeding, but it appears in this case that they are unable to use an under road culvert, and instead are getting out of the stream and crossing the road, to get to the stream on the other side of the road.  Don has also observed platypus road kill in the same area.

Funding was obtained from Landcare Tasmania to engage a contractor to survey priority under road culverts in the Kentish Municipality to determine whether or not they are accessible to crayfish. MRLC has been fortunate to contract Todd Walsh, a global authority on crayfish, to carry out this work. 

Todd visited the area in late February 2023 and - with the help of MRLC volunteers - established trial solutions at several culverts, and these were subsequently monitored to see whether or not they were effective. The results in this phase of the project were not conclusive, but did provide us with many learnings and subsequently a new range of trials to implement.   Importantly, through our discussions about this project, we came to realise that it was not only crayfish that were having difficulty negotiating under road culverts.  A range of other aquatic creatures, including platypus, were likely to face the same challenges, so we decided to broaden the study to consider the requirements of these creatures too, where possible. 

Todd Walsh was again in Kentish in March 2024 and visited several culverts with members of MRLC and the Kentish Council. Several trial sites were identified, and we are looking to implement trials at those sites during April-May-June.

On Saturday 4 May, Todd spoke at the "New Life" event at Claude Road Hall. View flier here.  As part of Todd's talk he showed the audience a live adult and juvenile crayfish (Todd returned both to their homes after the event!).  More details on Todd's presentation and the project will be provided here soon.

This project has been made possible by Landcare Tasmania grant funding of $3,500; a positive and cooperative working relationship with the Kentish Council; and the voluntary input of MRLC Committee members.

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