An Inverell man was the first person to artificially breed Murray Cod, and now his dedicated work for the environment and his extensive volunteering efforts over the course of more than half-a-century have been recognised.
Ray Harold Mepham has been posthumously honoured with an Order Of Australia (OAM) medal for his service to conservation and the environment.
For Mr Mepham, the OAM sits alongside other recognitions he received for his long-standing work.
In 2020, he was given and outstanding service award by MP Adam Marshall for his exceptional contribution to the conservation of Murray Cod, the icon and apex predator of the Murray-Darling River System and is considered a pioneer of the NSW aquaculture industry.
He had also been presented with the Paul Harris Fellow for Inverell Rotary Club in 2007; a Highly Commended in the Rural Services Category in the 2000 Inverell Business Awards; Inverell Jaycees Citizen of Year in 1993; and in 1982, was awarded the Long Service Award for the Bush Fire Council of NSW.
Ray, his wife, Edna, and their late son, Kevin, established a native fish hatchery on their sheep property 'Little Valley' near Elsmore on the Macintyre River in 1970.
From 1966 until 2021, he was the Proprietor and Artificial Fish Breeder of native fish, including Murray Cod, Golden Perch and Silver Perch.
He donated fingerlings for release in local rivers, lakes and dams, was the curator of an information museum on his property for tourists and local school children, all the while a sheep farmer and grazier.
He was the first person to breed Murray Cod in northern NSW in 1970, and was also the first to artificially breed the native fish.
Mr Mepham, aside from his fish work, was also the inaugural committee member for the Lake Inverell Reserve, serving from 1982 until 1991, and was and Honorary Vigilance Committee Member for the NSW Department of Agriculture from 1974 until 1986.
In Inverell, he was president of the Inverell Anglers Association in the mid-1980s but had been a members for over 60 years.
Volunteering well beyond that sphere, Mr Mepham had been a River Gauge Reade for the SES from 1955 until 2021.
He was also a member and volunteer in organisations including Inverell and Glen Innes Agricultural Shows; Sapphire Shearing Competition; Paradise Tennis Club; Elsmore Rural Youth Group; Elsmore Hall Committee; and Elsmore Sunday School Group across the 1960s to 1970s.
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