In Queensland, fish passage is recognised for its importance in maintaining the life cycles of many native fish species. All waterways providing for fish passage within Queensland are protected through provisions of the Fisheries Act 1994. However, the Planning Act 2016 allows approval to be granted for waterway barrier works that can demonstrate adequate fish passage. Operational work that involves constructing or raising waterway barrier works must either comply with Fisheries Queensland’s Accepted Development Requirements (ADR), or require assessment under the Planning Act 2016.
What constitutes a barrier to fish movement depends on the species involved, their movement patterns, life stage and swimming ability. Unlike fish species from the northern hemisphere, such as salmon, Australian native fish do not have the ability to scale large drops in a single leap or swim against high flow velocities over long distances. Fisheries Queensland have developed tools based on the swimming abilities of Australian native fish. These tools aim to provide guidance on design elements of commonly built waterway barriers, such as culvert crossings, to help facilitate fish passage across these structures.
The spatial data layer, Queensland waterways for waterway barrier works, categorises waterways into colours based on the potential risk of instream barrier works to fish passage. This informs the specific design requirements for certain types of instream structures proposed on these waterways, depending on their location. It can then be determined if the proposed works are likely to be Accepted or Assessable development. Design features to provide fish passage, are incorporated within the ADR and similar provisions are required for assessable development within the State Development Assessment Provisions. With approximately 80% of development categorised as Accepted Development, this facilitates an affordable and time-effective process for certain waterway barrier work developments and ensures adequate fish passage for native Australian fish species.