Will logging kill a critically endangered fish?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

In April last year the East Gippsland Galaxias was listed as Critically Endangered under the states FFG Act. Endemic to a small stretch of waterway in the Arte River system, a tributary of the Goolengook River.

The specific name aequipinnis  is from the Latin aequalis, meaning 'like' or 'same', and pinna, meaning 'fin', in reference to the almost equal size of the pectoral and pelvic fins of this species, BUT NOW …

VicForests is set to log the forest next to this critically endangered fish. Studies clearly show that logging impacts stream life for 10km below a logged forest. The EG Galaxias (Galaxias aequipinnis) only lives in this small catchment and according to the precautionary principle (enshrined in law) it should receive decent upper catchment protection and substantial buffers of at least 100m deep along the whole stretch of river to prevent siltation and sedimentation which clogs up the stream bed and can choke or kill off in-stream life. The dirt chokes the pebbly stream bed needed by many species for laying eggs in, hiding under and finding food in.

Many reports show how damaging logging and roading are to in-stream life. Even Tasmanian logging groups believe better protection is needed.

Despite being partly funded by logging lobbyists and the industry, the report calls for a broad rethink of forestry planning and practices. The recent Tasmanian study finds a “significant relationship” between logging management (clearfell and burn) in a stream’s headwaters, sediment pollution and declines in stream life. The same would be true for similar forests and logging techniques on the mainland, and probably globally.

The research compared 43 waterways in logging and non-logging catchments. The study found:

• Sediment run-off from logging and logging roads impacted as far as 10km downstream.
• Measures are needed to prevent run-off from unsealed gravel logging roads.
• Changes to the extent and intensity of logging are needed.
• Even a minor amount of clearing of headwaters causes harmful sediment to in-stream life such as crayfish.
• A “significant relationship” between the amount of clearfelling and post-logging burns upstream and the numbers of insects like mayfly, stonefly and caddisfly downstream.
• A “significant” link was found between dirt logging roads and a decline in aquatic insects downstream