Saturday May 21 is World Fish Migration Day, a one day global-local event to create awareness on the importance of open rivers and migratory fish, which is being celebrated in 347 locations worldwide.
Have you ever wondered how fish manage to swim past weirs and regulators and migrate to other systems despite having barriers, such as weirs, in the way?
The North Central Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is hosting a tour of four major barriers to fish movement on the Little Murray River, lower Loddon-Pyramid Creek and Gunbower Creek systems. Two of these fishways are already constructed and two have designs in place to create fish passage.
Fishways allow fish to move through weirs and regulators, allowing them to migrate between previously disconnected waterway reaches. Unfortunately not all weirs have fishways, meaning some fish, such as those between Cohuna Weir and Koondrook Weir, are trapped in the one reach.
The May 21 tour is part of the North Central CMA’s Native Fish Recovery Plan, a 20-year vision that will enable fish to freely move to and from the Murray River and throughout the Gunbower and lower Loddon systems, therefore increasing fish populations to levels not seen since the fishing heydays of the early 1900s.
Peter Rose of the North Central CMA said reconnecting the lower Loddon to the mighty Murray River can be achieved with significant works. Installing fishways at major barriers to enable fish movement is part of the plan, along with improving habitat and delivering fish friendly flows.
“The lower Loddon system is naturally connected via its waterways however the construction of weirs that supports a healthy, productive irrigation industry has created barriers for fish movement and migration,” he said.
“Another result of opening up the waterways is creating a world-class trophy fishery for species such as Murray cod, which will increase tourism in the area.”
Peter said Murray cod and golden and silver perch are known to travel long distances for spawning or to access new habitats.
“These works are part of bigger picture to connect the system in an effort to boost native fish populations. So for fish especially, there is no use just looking at a small section of waterway, we need to look at it on a landscape scale,” he said.
The World Fish Migration Day tour will run on Saturday 21 May between 10am and 3pm. For more information and to register, contact the North Central CMA at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 03 5448 7124.