Thursday, February 29, 2024

Engineers thinking like fish

SOMETHING that’s preventing the populations of many freshwater and marine fish species from flourishing is the presence of barriers to fish passage along and between waterways.

Being able to migrate is a key requirement of many fish species, because they use migrations to access food and shelter, spawning habitats and the nursery and recruitment habitats used by larvae and juveniles.

In Queensland the Fisheries Act recognises the importance of fish passage. Through this Act, structures in waterways that could be fish passage barriers are approved only if fish passage is provided.

Recreational fishers in Queensland are set to benefit from a new partnership established between Queensland Main Roads and Fisheries Queensland. Two Fisheries staff members are working directly with Main Roads engineers over the next 12 months to address fish passage issues at sites, like bridges and culverts, controlled by Main Roads. The idea is to ensure that the design, placement and monitoring of culverts used as part of road construction projects also provide the necessary fish passage.

Main Roads staff will be trained in fish passage requirements and solutions. But the arrangement will work both ways, with Fisheries staff gaining a better understanding of the planning, design and construction practices of Main Roads at stream crossings.

As part of the project, fish friendly culvert and bridge designs, in particular the flood reconstruction works, will be looked at. In addition, all the State’s waterways will be mapped to identify particular areas that are important for fish movement. This will help Main Roads officers decide whether they need to get Fisheries Act approvals at a given site.

Recreational fishers can play a key role in monitoring fish passage where there are culverts, bridges and so on. The more information State Fisheries agencies have about the species, life stage and timing of fish movement around barriers – whether successful or not – the better, and this information can be used to improve fish passage throughout the State.

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