There is 5575 known waterway crossing across NSW, of which 1770 represent a barrier to fish passage. NSW Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries (DPI Fisheries) has developed, implemented and modified guidelines for fish-friendly road crossings since 1999. The most recent version developed in 2003 - why do fish need to cross the Road? Fish passage Requirements for waterway Crossings. Much of the information that underpins the guidelines is based on fish-way research and anecdotal observations of fish swimming performance and behaviour. It is important to note that the guidelines recognise that other factors should also be considered such catchment or river specific requirements and cost constraints. Accepted knowledge gaps for the design of fish-friendly waterway crossings include specific swimming performance information on a range of fish species, and how these interact with culvert hydrodynamics.
To address this and improve the current culvert design guidelines, DPI Fisheries, NSW Roads and Maritime Service and the University of Queensland developed a collaborative partnership in 2011 to conduct research into how to develop fish-friendly culverts that integrate fish swimming performance and culvert hydrodynamics into the design.
An issue facing many natural resource and asset managers in NSW is finding a balance between infrastructure costs and the ongoing protection of aquatic biodiversity. In order to achieve that outcome, the delineation and spatial recognition of aquatic biodiversity is paramount in providing a greater understanding and appreciation of species distributions across the state.
By combining this information with evidenced based research on swimming performance DPI Fisheries is endeavoring to provide a robust information baseline on fish communities and their swimming performance, which when combined with specifically developed culvert design guidelines will provide for river specific, cost effective, fish-friendly waterway crossings.