AUSTRALIAN BASS FISH ARE DYING BY THE THOUSANDS AT BASE OF BURRUM WEIR FISHLADDER TRYING TO ACCESS THE FRESH WATER AFTER SPAWNING
Eight years after Lenthalls Dam was raised, on the condition that a new fishway be built, a detailled design has still not been produced.
The upcoming change in the water body’s corporate structure has also put a hitch in proceedings.
WBWC acting chief executive officer Garry Storch said they did not want to “take a decision without talking to the council about what they would like to do with it”.
“We’ll be taking it up with them in the next week or two as to how they’d like to proceed,” he said.
Mr Storch said they had not been satisfied that the designs they had looked at were going to work appropriately.
“We’ve got to make sure it’s not a white elephant,” he said.
“We’ve got to judge it against cost.
“From a purely environmental (and) fishing point of view, we should be doing it.”
Mr Storch said it was difficult to judge the success of a fishway and they had looked at designs but had not come to any conclusions.
But environmentalist Graham Berry, who has been involved in the fishway discussions all the way along, said a WBWC manager told the council’s environmental advisory committee in February that the Burrum fish ladder was at the detailed design stage and tenders would be called in May or June for construction to be completed in 2013.
He said even though installing a new fishway was a condition of raising Lenthalls Dam in 2004, no timeframe was attached.
Meanwhile, throughout September and October, observers noted a steady stream of bass dying in the river’s tidal saltwater near the No 1 dam because the fish were unable to get back into the freshwater via the existing fish ladder after spawning.
Way back in 2008, the Greater Mary Association criticised the water body was for its “tardiness” in building the fishway.
At the time, water CEO Tim Waldron said it would be easy to build a large concrete structure in the middle of the river that didn’t work.
“We do not want to build something that is not going to work,” he said.
“We are looking for the right long-term answer.”
Mr Care said the fishway benefits included improving, or allowing, adult fish – particularly Australian bass and barramundi that lived in the freshwater reaches of the Burrum system but moved into the saltwater to breed – access to and from spawning habitats, the dispersal of juvenile fish such as barramundi and mullet to new habitats, access to feeding habitats, the recolonisation of habitats and access to and from refuge areas during droughts or floods.
“We are committed to improving the health of our waterways and our environment department is working closely with stakeholders to ensure a beneficial outcome for fish stocks and habitats,” he said at the time.
Mr Berry said he was a little frustrated by the delay in installing a new fishway but was confident it would be built, “it’s just a matter of when”.
Sourced from the local Chronicle paper & published by Henry Sapiecha