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 - fitted ropes to several culverts. These ropes are now being monitored to check if the crayfish are using them instead of crossing the road.
Todd's final report, including recommendations for remedial actions, will be released at a public presentation in Kentish later in 2023. MRLC will provide details closer to the event.
This project has been made possible by LandcareTasmania grant funding of $3,500; a positive and cooperative working relationship with the Kentish Council; and the voluntary input of MRLC Committee members.