[ASC-media] Climbing the stairway to 'fish' heaven

Jenni Metcalfe jenni at econnect.com.au
Tue Jan 20 11:10:00 EST 2004

First new fishway for River Murray
Scientists counted more than 1,500 fish moving up the innovative fish ladder
recently installed at Lock 8 on the River Murray near the South Australian
border during its first week of operation.

The fishways will help declining or threatened native fish populations
resume their natural migration patterns upstream to breed or feed.

"The exciting thing was that nine different species of fish were using the
fishway, and seven of these were native fish including Golden perch, Bony
bream, and Australian smelt," said Jim Barrett, MDBC's Native Fish Strategy

The Lock 8 fishway is the first fishway to be built as part of the Native
Fish Strategy established by the Murray-Darling Basin Ministerial Council to
provide 2,300 kilometres of fish passage from the sea to Hume Dam over five
years at a cost of $25 million.

"Many native fish need to move widely through the river systems of the
Basin," Mr Barrett said.  "Some species such as Golden perch can migrate
over thousands of kilometres. Man-made barriers such as dams have greatly
affected survival and distribution of native fish species in the Basin."

Scientists from four states will be involved in monitoring the fishway over
a number of seasons and years to get a clear picture of its success in
rehabilitating native fish populations.

Mr Barrett said the vertical slot fishway used at Lock 8 was a vast
improvement on the old fishway designs, which suited stronger, surface
swimming exotic fish like Salmon rather than our native fish.

"Research is uncovering more about the swimming abilities and habits of
native fish, and this is reflected in new fishway designs," he said. "With
this new design, fish swim up through a series of pools in a gently sloping
structure, which allows fish to take their time, moving from pool to pool
according to their swimming abilities."

Twelve major barriers such as dams and weirs are currently blocking fish
movement in the River Murray between the sea and Hume Dam. Another 4,000
barriers along other streams and rivers in the Basin also require attention
to allow fish movement.

The Native Fish Strategy is the first major structural program to be funded
by The Living Murray Implementation Program. The aim of the Strategy is to
return native fish populations to 60 percent of their estimated pre-European
settlement levels within 50 years.

Print quality images are available at: http://www.mdbc.gov.au/fishway

For interview contact: Jim Barrett on 0418 694 590 (jim.barrett at mdbc.gov.au)

For media assistance contact:  Sam Leone,

MDBC Communication Unit, phone   0407 006 332  or   (02) 6279 0157

Jenni Metcalfe
Econnect Communication Pty Ltd
phones: 07 3846 7111; 040 855 1866 (mob)
email: jenni at econnect.com.au
fax: 07 3846 7144
mail address: PO Box 734 South Brisbane BC 4101
street address: 14 Horan St West End 4101

"I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself. A small bird will drop frozen
from a bough without once having felt sorry for itself." D.H. Lawrence

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