FISH HOMES AND HIGHWAYS PROJECT
INSULATOR CREEK’S FARM-FRIENDLY FISH PASSAGES
22 NOV 2022
Native fish are getting a helping hand in Insulator Creek thanks to a project that’s removing barriers to fish movement, and replacing them with farm and fish-friendly alternatives.
Fourth-generation cane farmer Michael Reinaudo says he hopes creek crossing modifications on his property will bring fish species further upstream.
A pipe culvert causeway crossing has been replaced with a concrete bed-level crossing, and a fish ladder has been added further along the creek as part of the ‘Fish Homes and Highways’ project being delivered by Terrain NRM and funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.
Terrain’s Rowan Shee said work was underway at some weirs, roads, crossings and other fish barriers in the Murray River and lower Herbert River catchments, after inspections of waterways to determine the priority spots for remediation. Insulator Creek is south of Ingham.
“When native fish can’t access different habitats needed for their breeding cycle, it can impact overall species population and diversity,” he said.
“Many of the barriers we’re focusing on are historical. We now know how to build infrastructure in more fish-friendly ways.
“The best outcome for fish is achieved when the infrastructure allows water to flow across the full channel width, and natural components of the creek are retained or replicated – like riffles and eddies, rocky areas, and different creek bed textures. This creates natural resting spots for small fish like baby empire gudgeon and barra, which are not strong swimmers.”
Mr Reinaudo said the work was starting to gain interest and traction in the farming community.
“The idea of fish passage wasn’t on our radar until Terrain approached us, but we found the concept really interesting and wanted to get involved,’’ he said.
“It was important to us that the barrier remediation wasn’t going to compromise farm operations or haulage access. We’re keen to get good biodiversity outcomes that work in with farm operations, so we were pleased to be closely involved in the planning process.”
Mr Shee said Insulator Creek was a great example of an entire system being improved.
“There has been a lot of revegetation and weed control work in this system over the years, and improving fish passage will further improve biodiversity outcomes. There are lots of co-benefits.”
The work also includes monitoring upstream to see how fish access improves.
Mr Reinaudo is looking forward to seeing the results.
“You always want to be able to measure in some way, so you know how well something is working. We’re hoping to see fish species moving further upstream.”