Oral Presentation International Conference on River Connectivity (Fish Passage 2018)

Restoring connectivity – how the Sea to Hume fishways will help achieve the environmental outcomes of the Murray-Darling Basin Plan. (#134)

Stuart Little 1 , Helena Bamford 1 , Brenton Zampatti 2 , Ivor Stuart 3 , Clayton Sharpe 4 , Zeb Tonkin 5 , Wayne Koster 5 , Chris Bice 2
  1. Murray-Darling Basin Authority, Canberra City, ACT, Australia
  2. Primary Industries and Regions South Australia, South Australian Research and Development Institute, West Beach, South Australia, Australia
  3. Kingfisher Research, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  4. CPS Enviro, Irymple, Victoria, Australia
  5. Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Arthur Rylah Institute, Heidelberg, Victoria, Australia

In Australia, the key reform in the management of water is the Water Act (2007). As part of the Water Act (2007), the Murray-Darling Basin Plan sets out the management framework for the waterways in Australia’s most economically important river system. The Murray-Darling Basin Plan (2012), hereafter the Basin Plan, aims to restore and maintain the health of important water-dependant ecosystems within Australia’s Murray-Darling Basin. To achieve these objectives, ‘water for the environment’ is to be managed under a Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy (MDBA 2014), (the Strategy) that articulates the basin-scale outcomes that will achieve the objectives of the Basin Plan. One of the key outcomes targeted by the Strategy is connectivity, both lateral and longitudinal. Longitudinal connectivity is of particular importance to Australian native fish species, many of which move hundreds of kilometres upstream and downstream at different stages of their life-cycle. The River Murray is now characterised by barrages at its estuary, and weirs and dams along its length, creating a series of barriers to upstream fish migration, and consequently impacting on the reproductive success of a number of Australian native fish species. Our understanding of the life-cycles of two large-bodied, recreational fish species (silver perch and golden perch) and two diadromous lamprey species (short-headed lamprey; pouched lamprey) demonstrates the importance of longitudinal connectivity at the river basin scale. It is these species that emphasise the importance of basin-scale management of river flows, basin-scale fish passage, and the interactions between the two. The outcomes from natural flow events and environmental watering actions targeting these species in the River Murray will be used to demonstrate the interdependencies between river flows and the Sea to Hume fishways. Demonstrating the importance of the Sea to Hume fishways, and Basin-scale fish passage more broadly, to the environmental outcomes of the Basin Plan.

  1. MDBA (2014) Basin-wide Environmental Watering Strategy. Murray-Darling Basin Authority.