New Fursden Creek fishway leads to aquatic migration boom

Published Friday, 11 February, 2022 at 12:33 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon

New Fursden Creek fishway leads to aquatic migration boom

Fish migration along the Fursden Creek at Mackay has increased by more than 800 per cent, thanks to $74,000 worth of innovative remediation works managed by the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and delivered by Catchment Solutions.

Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said the construction of a new fishway allowed for native fish and other aquatic life to easily travel within the waterway.

“The Mackay Whitsunday Region is home to 47 native freshwater fish species,” Minister Scanlon said.

“The majority of the native freshwater fish in the region are migratory, and their life cycles depend on being able to travel between downstream estuarine environments to breed and upstream freshwater habitats to feed and grow.

“Restoring connectivity within waterways is therefore crucial for improving aquatic ecosystem health and sustaining local fish resources.”

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said specialist company Catchment Solutions was contracted by DES to deliver the fishway remediation.

“This important project involved the removal and re-engineering of barriers within the waterways that would otherwise prevent fish from their natural migration in the area,” Ms Gilbert said.

“This included the replacement of a 1.3 metre rock weir with a more natural-looking rock ramp, using more than 300 tonnes of large rock which was specifically designed to suit the surrounding environment and to allow for easy fish travel.”

The construction of the fishway commenced in late November 2020, with the final wet season inspection completed on the 27 January 2021.

Ms Gilbert said these works ensured the survival and productivity of the fish species found in the waterway by providing better access to further habitat upstream.

“Since the works were completed, Catchment Solutions has been monitoring fish movement in the creek, to ensure the works were a success,” Ms Gilbert said.

“The results have been astonishing – showing an increase of more than 800 per cent in fish successfully using the new fishway.

“Before the works were undertaken, about 25 fish were recorded migrating the creek per day, but after the works were complete this increased to about 237 fish per day.

“The number of native fish species observed using the fishway has also increased from two to ten, which is also a benefit to the surrounding ecosystem.”

Funding for this project has been sourced from pooled financial settlement offset payments established under Division 5 of the Environmental Offsets Act 2014.

This includes payments for impacts from waterway barrier works that require offsets for fish passage as defined by the Fisheries Act 1994.