Hinchinbrook Marine Advisory Committee

HINCHINBROOK MARINE ADVISORY COMMITTEE

29 APRIL 2021

Who doesn’t love talking about fish?! That’s Adam Royle’s take on life, so he’s pretty excited about new fish passageways that will help scores of native fish species move between freshwater and marine waterways in the Hinchinbrook area.

Adam and other members of the Hinchinbrook Local Marine Advisory Committee have been working alongside OzFish with species surveys along Palm Creek where a zig-zagging fish passageway was built at Ingham’s Victoria Mill Weir a year and a half ago. They’re also working on a new project that’ll hopefully lead to a fish passageway being constructed near the Tyto Wetlands in Ingham.

He says the first two Palm Creek fish surveys have returned great results.

“We’ve seen a good number of species, including freshwater prawns, eels and spangled perch. There is absolutely no doubt that fish are moving between the upper and lower parts of the weir, something they haven’t had the opportunity to do at this scale since the weir was constructed.’’

The zig-zagging fish passageway is a series of 26 ramps and ponds or pools that fish can work their way up to get past the weir.

“That’s important to a lot of species, including mangrove jack and barramundi, because they spawn in the marine environment, the juveniles move up the river systems to find freshwater nurseries, and then when they’re of age, they need to return to the marine environment to start the cycle all over again.

“Fish passage barriers are a real threat to fish numbers and diversity.”

Surveys also show where improvements, or “tweaks”, can be made to the design of a passageway.

“We’ve been helping to set-up and remove short-term fish traps, and do fish species counts. It’s been great for our members, with helpers ranging from retirees to teenagers including my daughter Hope who absolutely loves helping with the surveys.”

The Hinchinbrook Local Marine Advisory Committee (LMAC) has recently partnered with OzFish on a different project that will include fish surveys at Tyto Wetlands and in the Herbert River, and initial design work for a rock ramp fishway near Tyto Wetlands. It’s funded through the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

“The Hinchinbrook LMAC identified an issue where overflow from the Herbert River and localised rain fills up a water way adjacent to the Tyto wetlands. Fish move up through the flooded waterway but hit a barrier before entering the wetlands and can’t go any further.

“Without safe passage into the wetlands they are eaten by birds or die when it dries out. We’ll be working with OzFish to scope this out and hopefully it’ll lead to more funding for a passageway.”

Adam said fish stocking groups did a great job in the region.

“The stocking work is really helpful but we need to also think beyond that – if there is no passage for the fish to get good habitat they won’t survive.”

The Hinchinbrook Local Marine Advisory Committee is a voluntary body that advises the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority at a community level and shares information between the Authority and stakeholders. It is as diverse as possible, with representatives from interest groups including fishing, traditional owners, farming, tourism, resources, recreation, education, research, conservation and shipping.

To learn more about the committee, how to become part of it and its projects, contact Adam Royle on 0417 610 446 or nqfisho@live.com.au

Terrain NRM is a community-based membership organisation. Hinchinbrook Local Marine Advisory Committee is one of 80+ members in a network involved in natural resource management in the Wet Tropics. Members have voting rights at our annual general meetings. Find out more at https://terrain.org.au/membership/

The Palm Creek fish passageway project was led by Greening Australia, with funding from the Australian Government’s Reef Trust program.

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