Fishway helps move more than 9000 fish into Hinze Dam

MORE than 9000 native fish and eels have been transferred from the Nerang River upstream into Hinze Dam, as part of a fish relocation system that is helping to improve the biodiversity of the dam.

Since the dam began spilling in mid-December 2020, Seqwater has been operating its “trap ‘n’ haul” fishway on an almost daily basis; with staff sorting through thousands of fish to relocate native species upstream and remove invasive species.

Seqwater Recreation and Catchment Operations supervisor Matthew Wellington said as a result of the work about 4000 pest fish, such as tilapia, had been removed from the Nerang River, while about 9000 native species such as yellowbelly and bass had been physically transferred into the dam.

“The fishway was built as part of the Hinze Dam Stage 3 upgrade to enable the passage of native fish species from downstream to upstream, past the dam wall barrier,” Wellington said. “We operate it regularly as part of our environmental compliance practices.

“Fish downstream of the dam are lured into a channel, which we drain into a large bucket that is emptied into a sorting table – pest species are removed and native species are carted upstream and released into Hinze dam.

“We are simply aiding the natural migratory patterns of native fish when they are triggered to travel upstream, by assisting them in getting past the concrete barrier of the Hinze Dam wall.

Normally we operate the “trap ‘n’ haul” facility about two or three times a week, but when Hinze Dam is at full capacity, we can be transferring fish wanting to migrate upstream as frequently as daily during the spill period.

Wellington said the Hinze Dam temporarily stopped spilling on Sunday 14 February 2021, before more rainfall on the Gold Coast saw the storage creep above full supply again on February 19. As of 24 February, Hinze Dam is at 101.2% full.

“Our team is meticulous when it comes to this work, we’re capturing fish of all sizes, from small gudgeon that are half the size of a human fingernail, to cod weighing up to 20kg,” he said.

“Through the use of the fishway, we’re not only improving biodiversity in Hinze Dam by maintaining healthy fish populations, we’re also helping keep pest species out of the dam.”

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