Fitzroy Barrage
Fitzroy Barrage

Fish ladder helps Fitzroy River and reef health

AN innovative fishway installed at the Fitzroy River Barrage as part of a $2 million Fitzroy Basin Association program, has significantly increased fish numbers moving into freshwater habitats upstream in the river.

The ladder was officially launched in May ahead of World Fish Migration Day, with a preliminary survey showing up to 400 fish were passing through the new structure every minute.

Federal Member for Capricornia Michelle Landry said the Australian Government's Reef program contributed $500,000 toward the fish ladder- including its design, construction and monitoring.

"The aim is to improve the sustainability of the lower Fitzroy system, which provides benefits to the Great Barrier Reef," Ms Landry said.

"Fish species are an important aspect of this ecosystem and the $500,000 fish ladder project will allow mother nature to continue undisrupted by man-made structures like the city's water barrage.

"The federal government is proud to assist with this project which will help support a healthier barrier reef and the number of fish using it every minute is testament that the research is worthwhile."

Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) chief executive officer Paul Birch said the barrage had an older fishway but it was too challenging for small fish to traverse and some migratory fish species had great difficulty using it.

"Reducing barriers that prevent the movement of migratory fish is essential to promoting the sustainability of a productive and biodiverse system," Mr Birch said.

"To breed, adult barramundi must migrate from freshwater to marine environments.

"While juveniles must move back upstream in freshwater habitats to survive."