Tornado timber used in fish “motels”

SCIENTISTS and river health teams are using reclaimed timber from a tornado in Victoria’s Yarrawonga area to create a series of fish “motels” along the Ovens River.

The North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA), Arthur Ryler Institute, and
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) are utilising funding from
Recreational Fishing Grants Victoria to develop new habitat for native fish in the Ovens River.

The multi-agency team is using innovative approaches along the Ovens and will next week start building timber structures, or fish “motels” in a reach between Tarrawingee and Everton.

“Native fish look for snags and complex structures in a river when they are seeking shelter or it’s time to spawn (breed),” explained Anthony Wilson, Catchment Coordinator with NECMA.

“Previous mapping of in-stream woody habitat in the Ovens River identified a lack of in-stream logs and timber for native fish species. That’s why we are creating these ‘motels’ for native fish.”


The fish motels are constructed by layering logs in a crisscross formation to form a tower like structure that provides bulk and complexity for the fish species through differing water heights of the river. The structures are then held in place within the river by large poles that are pinned into the river bed.

Mr Wilson said it was initially difficult to source native timber for the innovative fish habitat project.

“Streamline Environmental Project Management based in Yarrawonga helped us source the hardwood we needed to build these structures from tornado damaged areas.”

“We’re delighted to make use of this reclaimed timber. In doing so, we are helping to clean up storm damaged vegetation in the Yarrawonga community and offering environmental benefits for the Ovens river and its native fish populations. It’s a real win-win!”.

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