Fish Passage Conference lures world’s experts to Albury


THE International Conference on River Connectivity will see over 350 delegates from more than 30 countries descend on Albury from December 10-14 to discuss ways to remediate barriers to migrating fish and restore habitat connectivity for native species.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Deputy Director General, Dr Geoff Allan, said this was the first time the conference would be held in the Southern Hemisphere, providing a unique opportunity for NSW scientists and managers to share their research and recommendations with a global audience.

“NSW DPI is delighted to be co-hosting this event that is bringing the world’s experts on fish passage to Australia for the first time to work on a common goal – improving native fish access to key habitat,” Dr Allan said.

“Not only will it offer us the chance to learn from the best and to establish lasting relationships with international fisheries bodies, the event will provide an economic boost for the Albury region too.

“Our NSW Ministerial Fish Passage Taskforce is developing a coordinated 20-year Strategy for fish passage remediation in NSW, and this Conference will offer a great forum to discuss ideas, hone recommendations and learn more about past successes from around the world.

“Iconic fish species such as Murray cod, golden perch, trout cod, silver perch and Australian bass require large tracts of rivers to migrate to maintain healthy populations, but due to the construction of more than 2000 weirs and dams over past centuries, these native fish populations have declined by an estimated 90% in the Murray Darling alone.

“Nearly half of Australia’s native fish species are now listed as threatened under both NSW and Commonwealth legislation. Without specific, targeted intervention to remediate fish passage, native fish populations will continue to decline.

“Improving fish passage does not only benefit the fish – it also benefits the environment and our economy, with freshwater recreational fishing contributing up to $500 million to the NSW economy each year.”

Dams and weirs restrict migrating fish due to the presence of a physical barrier that fish are unable to leap or swim over.

Barriers to fish passage have severe implications for native fish populations by restricting access to key spawning, nursery and feeding habitats, which has affected the abundance and diversity of fish communities in NSW.

Restoring fish passage has consistently been demonstrated as one of the most effective tools in recovering native fish populations.

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