Passage to help vulnerable fish

By Country News

Thousands of native fish will be able to freely move between the Murray River and the rich habitat of Gunbower Creek due to a funding boost from the autumn sale of water for the environment.

The Koondrook fishway will provide passage to native fish such as the iconic vulnerable Murray cod and threatened golden perch from the river into the creek for the first time in more than a century.

Key partners including the Victorian Environmental Water Holder, North Central Catchment Management Authority, DELWP and Goulburn-Murray Water have agreed to take the proposed Koondrook fishway into a detailed design and costing phase, and then through to construction.

Fish studies have shown that large numbers of native fish accumulate at Koondrook Weir trying to access the creek, but they cannot get past the weir.

‘‘A fishway will dramatically improve connectivity for fish movement and migration and help boost native fish numbers in the creek,’’ North Central CMA chief executive officer Brad Drust said.

‘‘It will also add significant value to the fantastic wins we are already seeing with environmental flows and native fish recovery — such as Murray cod spawning in the Gunbower Creek and the critical fish food provided by flows through the Gunbower Forest.’’

The VEWH has committed proceeds from a recent sale of 10000Ml of its 2018-19 water allocation for the environment into construction of the new fishway.

‘‘The Victorian Environmental Water Holder holds, manages and uses Victoria’s environmental water entitlements to protect the health of the rivers, waterways and landscapes that people love and use,’’ VEWH chair Denis Flett said.

‘‘As part of managing these entitlements, the VEWH sometimes sells small volumes of water allocation and invests the revenue in projects to support outcomes for the environment, including helping our native fish populations.’’

The detailed design is under way with a focus on ensuring the fishway is able to pass a wide range of species, large and small, under a range of flow conditions.

The design aims to ensure the most ecological benefit to the native fish population, while not impacting on the delivery of water to irrigators.