NEWS - A clearer path for native fish

Two NSW Government departments collaborate in inland fish migratory project

A new collaboration project between NSW Department of Primary Industries and State Water is
underway to improve fish passage, making it easier for fish to move freely through rivers and
creeks in the western region, NSW DPI Senior Conservation Manager, Sam Davis, said this week.

The project has research support from The Waterbirds, Wetlands and Rivers Research Laboratory
of the University of NSW and has been funded by the Rivers Environmental Restoration Program.

"Native fish undergo both small and large scale migrations throughout their life to find food, shelter,
mates and spawning sites," said Davis.

"These native fish, such as Murray cod and golden perch, are known to have difficulty negotiating
weirs, causeways, culverts and other blockages/barriers such as pipes and floodgates in creeks.

"In the Lower Macquarie Catchment, Bulgeraga Creek has been identified as a major fish
migratory route, which has a number of water regulation structures that are blocking fish passage.

"This has major repercussions for the health of native fish communities and the quality of fish
stocks available for recreational anglers," Davis said.

The project will assess the degree of impact barriers have on fish movement through the
Bulgeraga Creek System in the Macquarie Marshes, and work out the most strategic way of
dealing with the barriers.

The project will include a works program to fix priority structures to allow fish to pass safely.

Helicopter surveys have already been conducted of all major distributary creeks of the Macquarie
River downstream from Warren and around the Macquarie Marshes.

Fish surveys have been conducted at hotspots using nets and electrofishing, and results show that
fish are moving along the main avenues of water delivery.

"The next step will be additional experimental fish surveys at these sites to compare fish passage
before and after flow events, to determine their effectiveness," said Davis.

"This is an important project to protect native fish species.

"Barriers to fish passage prevent the migration of native fish species and can have severe
implications for these populations.

"In extreme cases, barriers can also result in localised extinctions," explained Davis.

The River Environmental Restoration Program is jointly funded by the NSW Government
and the Australian Government's Water for the Future and aims to improve the ecological
health of the most stressed and iconic inland rivers and wetlands in NSW.


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