Fish ladder improves habitat connectivity

Full Fishway croppedAn innovative fishway has been installed at the Fitzroy River Barrage in Rockhampton. Part of a $2 million Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) program funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Programme, the fishway has significantly increased fish numbers moving into freshwater habitats upstream of the Fitzroy River Barrage, the largest water storage for Rockhampton and the Capricorn coast.

While the barrage previously had an older fishway, it was too challenging for small fish to traverse, and some migratory fish species had great difficulty using it.

The Reef Programme contributed $500,000 toward the fishway design, construction and monitoring and the fishway was completed by FBA with Rockhampton Regional Council support.

Reducing barriers that prevent the movement of migratory fish is essential in promoting the sustainability of a productive and biodiverse lower Fitzroy system, as well as providing benefits to the Great Barrier Reef.

Cone fishway (part of new fish ladder)The new structure features innovative design techniques that reduces the velocity of water flowing from the upper level of the river to the below barrage level. It allows migratory fish as small as 9mm to move upstream through the fishway irrespective of tide levels, and provides resting and hiding places in deep pools essential for their survival.

The fishway design, project implementation and overall success has ticked a number of boxes by providing a highly cost effective and low maintenance solution that demonstrates how partnerships can contribute to a favorable outcome for all.

The new fishway was officially opened on 21 May 2016 to coincide with World Fish Migration Day. World Fish Migration Day is a global celebration highlighting the importance of habitat connectivity to migratory fish species.