Waterway Infrastructure Design, Construction and Monitoring

AFPS has been involved in hundreds of fisheries projects throughout Australia and Southeast Asia and has produced numerous publications associated with these projects. The publications outline the processes and results of the projects and are a vital resource to anyone implementing fish habitat rehabilitation projects in Australia and overseas.

2021 Cone Fishways Reach Significant Development Stage

After 15 years of development, cone fishways have reached an important milestone in 2021 with Australasian Fish Passage Services (AFPS) celebrating the installation of their 25th cone fishway in Australia and Southeast Asia. Come on a journey with us as we look at how the idea was born and developed over time into the successful cone fishway of today.

2019 Evaluation of cone fishways to facilitate passage of small-bodied fish

Fishways are being provided more regularly than ever before and new designs are needed to provide passage for whole fish communities. Despite recent progress, fishways have frequently performed poorly, especially for small-bodied fish (i.e. 10–100 mm long), which can form large aggregations below stream barriers. This was the genesis for the development of the cone fishway design, a new style of technical fishway which consists of a series of pre-fabricated cone-shaped concrete baffles installed laterally within a concrete channel. The cone design arose from the need to install rock ramp fishways at remote sites where rock was unavailable and where maintenance would be infrequent. The objective of the present study was to evaluate the suitability of the new cone fishway design to provide passage for small-bodied diadromous species (i.e. < 100 mm long). Cone fishways were evaluated at three low head (e.g. < 3 m high) case-study sites in tropical and temperate Australia and in total, 45 species and 28,556 fish were collected. There was passage of a broad range of the target size-classes of small-bodied fish and individuals as small as nine mm could ascend. However, further work is needed to quantify the proportion of the small-bodied fish population in the river downstream which find and pass through the cone fishways. The most suitable experimental application of the cone fishway is at sites where there is: (i) a narrow (e.g. < 0.4 m) headwater range, and (ii) where passage of small-bodied fish is a major ecological priority. Cone fishways provide a useful and novel option to improve passage of small-bodied fish, at appropriatesites, and contribute to a contemporary vision of restoration of whole fish communities.

2019 Fish passage developments for small-bodied tropical fish: field case studies lead to technology improvements

In tropical coastal lowland rivers, there are frequent upstream migrations of post-larval and juvenile diadromous fish from estuaries into freshwater. Tidal barriers completely block these pathways and have contributed to major losses of freshwater biodiversity. In northern Australia, early efforts to improve tropical river fish passage with salmonid-style fishways completely failed. Since the mid-1990s, low gradient vertical-slot and rock fishways improved fish passage, but the smallest and most abundant fish (i.e. from 10 to 100 mm long) often still failed to ascend. Since the mid-2000s, there was a paradigm shift in hydraulic design criteria for new fishways, with a renewed focus on: (i) low turbulence, (ii) maximized roughness and hydraulic boundary layers to optimise fish ascent. The success of these new designs for passage of very small (from 9 mm long) diadromous fish on low head barriers (i.e. <3 m high) was assessed by developing a conceptual model of fish movement to inform fishway design criteria, tabulating past and present fishway design criteria, and conducting a series of brief field case-studies. It was concluded that while there have been improvements in passage of small-bodied fish at tidal barriers, further experimental work is still needed to test and refine current eco-hydraulic fishway design criteria.

2018 Achieving fish passage outcomes at irrigation infrastructure; a case study from the Lower Mekong Basin

Irrigation infrastructure expansion threatens the diversity of freshwater fish worldwide by creating migration barriers which can block access to important nursery, feeding and spawning habitat. Lao PDR is a landlocked country situated within the Lower Mekong River Basin where there is a substantial dependency on rice and fish for food, income and livelihoods. The country is experiencing an unprecedented boom in irrigation infrastructure investment, with modernisation programs being implemented in every province. Despite significant investment in infrastructure upgrades, and the potential impact on freshwater fish, little consideration has been given to fish passage solutions. In 2008, we commenced a fish passage program in Lao PDR. The intent of this case study is to outline the pivotal elements of the program of knowledge development and transfer, in the context of river connectivity and fisheries management in Lao PDR. We also highlight challenges in international research in development and lessons learned

2018 Comparing fishway designs for application in a large tropical river system

River infrastructure poses a serious threat to diverse and productive fish stocks in many tropical river-floodplain systems; particularly the Lower Mekong River, where the fisheries are vital for food security. Dams and weirs block fish migration pathways and prevent access to feeding, spawning or nursery habitat. Fishways are becoming increasingly important for mitigating the effects of barriers; however, knowledge regarding their effectiveness for the biodiverse tropical river systems is still scant. This study examined the effectiveness of differing low-cost fishway designs for rehabilitating degraded floodplain fisheries in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) in Laos: (1) vertical slot; (2) submerged orifice — 150 mm square opening; and (3) submerged orifice — 300 mm square opening. Day and night in situ field experiments were undertaken to compare the abundance, biomass, species richness and size range of fish able to pass through each design with relatively low drops between pools (i.e. 150 mm each) and low water velocities (i.e. 1.71 ms−1). Passage of a total of 73 species was supported by the fishway designs at a similar abundance, biomass, species richness and size range of fish, during both the day and night; although, the vertical slot design supported a different suite of fish species to that of the other two designs during the day. This suggests that each of these fishway designs could be successfully used to support the rehabilitation of fisheries in the LMB and potentially other large tropical river systems with relatively diverse migratory fish communities and variable hydrological characteristics. However, the vertical slot provides greater design and operational flexibility over the submerged orifice designs particularly in tropical systems with
inherently variable hydrology. The final fishway design choice ultimately depends on the fish species and size classes being prioritised for restoration and the unique hydrological characteristics of the site.

2017 Fitzroy Barrage Cone Fishway Upgrade and Monitoring Report

The Fish Friendly Fitzroy: Bypassing the Barrage project was initiated to improve fish passage in the lower Fitzroy Basin and restore fish communities in the lower 150 km of stream habitat. The major specific objective was to evaluate the success of an innovative new cone fishway technology as well as remediate the existing vertical slot fishway to enhance upstream passage of super-abundant small-bodied fish (<100 mm long). From 2014-16, monitoring of the two major modifications (i) new cone fishway, (ii) tailwater stabilisation pool, to increase functionality of the new cone and existing vertical slot fishway was completed. In total, 19 species of small-bodied fish were collected with the cone fishway meeting its original design objectives of passage of very small native fish. In fact, the innovative cone design passed the most fish per hour of any Australian fishway and the work also significantly extended the functionality of the vertical slot.

2017 Glenore Weir Cone Fishway Monitoring Report

The Glenore Weir Fishway project was initiated to meet the legislative requirements for the continued provision of fish passage in the Norman River as part of the raising of Glenore Weir. The major specific objective of this report was to evaluate the success of the new cone fishway technology constructed on the new weir. In the 2017 wet season, monitoring of the cone fishway was completed. In total, 27 species of fish were collected from the cone fishway, meeting its original design objectives of providing passage for the migratory fish community of the Norman River. In fact, the innovative cone design passed thousands of fish from a wide range of fish species and size ranges.

2016 Development of fish passage technologyto increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong basin

The Lower Mekong basin is facing an unprecedented level of irrigation development. Many dams, weirs and regulators are being  constructed on an annual basis and there are substantial concerns for the welfare of fisheries resources. There was little information
available on (1) the level of current development; (2) information available on potential fish passage mitigation options or (3) social and economic impacts and benefits of maintaining fish passage. This project sought to address some of these knowledge gaps through the
application of structured field research.

2016 Fitzroy Barrage Cone Fishway Initial Monitoring Report

The objective of the present report is to experimentally determine the success of the new cone fishway at passing small fish as compared to the existing vertical slot fishway. To this end, parallel sampling of the vertical slot and cone fishways was undertaken to determine the
species, numbers and size ranges of all fish using the two fishways.

2016 Prioritising Barriers to Upstream Fish Passage – Barwon and Moorabool Catchment

A barrier prioritisation process was refined and adapted specifically for the Barwon and Moorabool catchment to identify and recommend ecological, social and resource-efficient priorities. The prioritisation demonstrated that while there are hundreds of barriers within the catchment, remediation of a small number of the highest priority barriers will significantly increase the habitat available to migratory fish. A strategic restoration approach is recommended herein which will greatly aid in restoring access to the different aquatic habitats of the Barwon and Moorabool catchment, along with recommendations for a series of well-known and innovative fishways for the Corangamite CMA to take forward.

2016 Prioritising Barriers to Upstream Fish Passage: Mary River Catchment

This report outlines information collected for the five stage Mary River Catchment Barrier Prioritisation Project. The aim of this study is to identify and prioritise all potential barriers to fish migration within the Mary River catchment for future investigation of high priority sites.
This will assist in the informed investment in barrier rehabilitation to be undertaken by NGO’s and government organisations.

2015 Common Rail Proof of Concept and Baffle Field Trial Assessment Report

The performance monitoring and assessment of common rail field test components and baffle-type fish passage systems for culverts project successfully tested the common rail culvert baffle test system and the Queensland WWBW baffle configurations. The common rail culvert baffle test system is a well-engineered test system that could be successfully used to test baffle configurations with some minor modifications. The system would be best suited to permanent installation in a culvert located close to the mouth of a coastal creek system, where there is a good supply of water and abundant migratory small and juvenile fish species. In this location the system would be able to
the perform as designed and with the new baffle designs produce results at a greater level than the portable flume system. The baffle designs as recommended by the Queensland WWBW codes were also demonstrated to successfully pass fish and compared equally with or better than various other baffle configurations. All baffle systems were demonstrated to be superior for providing fish passage to a culvert without baffles.

2015 Fitzroy Basin Fish Barrier Prioritisation Update

The 2015 project updated the progress of installing fish passage at barriers, to provide refined guidance for future remediation works and to assess achievement against targets set in the Fitzroy Water Quality Improvement Plan

2015 Fitzroy Barrage Fishway Sampling and Recommended Updates

The Fitzroy barrage vertical-slot fishway provided adequate functionality in the 1990s but new technology is now available to vastly increase its functionality. The objective of the present report was to experimentally determine the suitability of various new hydraulic control innovations, including sills and keyhole slots, to provide significantly improved fishway hydraulics and potentially extend the range of fish species and sizes successfully using the existing fishway. These modifications have proven highly successful in other recent Australian fishways.

2015 Incorporating Fish Passage into Sustainable Development Practices and Policy in Lao PDR

The regional irrigation industry is rapidly expandingin Lao PDR. Irrigation infrastructure, while important for generating income from rice production in drying landscapes, can adversely impact upon fish; a major source of nutrition and income for regional communities. Australian researchers deployed technology that can significantly reduce fisheries impacts and generate win-win outcomes for irrigation and fisheries. Regional donor bodies are keen to invest in these solutions but are seeking guidance to ensure programs are implemented
effectively. This policy brief sets out key actions that could substantially benefit both fishers, farmers and communities if implemented in a strategic manner.

2015 Risk Management of Waterways: Impact Determination of Barrier Works for Fish Passage in Queensland

The Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Australia has a statutory role in the assessment of the impacts a proposed development may have upon fish passage. The decision on the importance of a waterway to fish passage (a waterway determination) was previously made on a case-by-case basis. Although the definition of a waterway is consistent, the characteristics of an individual waterway and their importance to fish passage have been interpreted differently by DAF staff and applicants. In March 2013, DAF released a spatial layer with a waterway determination for every waterway across the State that is considered to be important to
fish passage. These waterway determinations are coded into five colours depending on how instream development impacts upon fish passage, ranging from Purple (major impacts) down to Green (low impacts). The Department now uses this spatial layer to trigger and assess Development Approvals and its use has streamlined the waterway determination process, providing a transparent and definitive determination both in-house and for the wider community. The spatial layer has also enabled a major redefinition of a set of waterway
barrier works self-assessable codes that are used for fish passage under minor works. The codes outline a set of acceptable development risks that the Department is satisfied can occur without the need for a development.
approval or further fish passage mitigation. With the use of this spatial layer, the codes are now better attuned to
the impacts development (waterway barriers) could have upon fish passage in all five colour-coded waterways.

2014 Guideline to Prioritising Fish Passage Barriers and Creating Fish Friendly Structures: Lower Mekong Basin

This document sets out a process for practitioners that allows them to identify the most high priority barriers for repair and undertake a design and construction process that will lead to high quality outcomes for fish passage. The process handles the large number of barriers present within each system by using remote sensing tools and analysis to identify and rank barriers. Based on physical, biological and socio-economic considerations the process prioritises which barriers should be targeted for rehabilitating and restoration of fish passage. This prioritisation process has been successfully used in the Xe Champhone catchment of the LMB as well in sub-tropical and tropical river systems overseas. The document then sets out a design and construction process for fishways that will guide practitioners through the selection of a design team and determination of the best fish passage solution for each of the high priority barriers. No one fishway design will fit all sites, so to achieve effective fish passage a design team that has appropriate biological and engineering expertise as well as operator input is vital. The combination of biological, engineering and structure expertise is key for successful implementation of fish passage. These guidelines therefore provide practitioners with the tools required to see through any fish passage project to a successful conclusion.

2014 Prioritising Barriers to Upstream Fish Passage for Remediation Works: Xe Champhone Catchment, Lao PDR

This report outlines information collected for the first objective of the “Development of fish passage technology to increase fisheries production on floodplains in the lower Mekong and Murray-Darling River basins” project. The aim of this is to identify and prioritise potential barriers to fish migration so that informed investments in barrier rehabilitation can be undertaken by NGO’s and government organisations. As this prioritisation process has not been undertaken previously in the LMB, it was decided that a pilot prioritisation in a smaller catchment be undertaken prior to a larger scale prioritisation. This report details the process and the results of identifying and
prioritising the barriers found within the Xe Champhone system a significant subcatchment of the Xe Bang Heing and outlines the highest priority barriers for rehabilitation.

2013 Moores Creek Fishway Sampling Report

In July 2012, a partial-width rock ramp fishway was constructed to remediate a pipe culvert causeway that was acting as a barrier to fish passage on the lower reaches of Moores Creek. The causeway, which is located on Charles Street in the centre of Rockhampton, consisted of a 1.1 m high barrier to fish passage. Significantly, the barrier was located on the freshwater/estuarine interface of Moores Creek, and therefore prevented the migration of diadromous and potamodromous fish species over most medium and low flows conditions. Fishway sampling results confirmed the fishway was successful at passing both juvenile and adult fish, including bottom and surface dwelling species. Significantly, the fishway was successful at facilitating passage of larval (long-finned eel), post larval (sea mullet) and juvenile (barramundi) life history stages. In total, 2040 individual fish representing 18 species at a total catch rate of 26.49 fish per hour were recorded from the Moores Creek rock ramp fishway. Sixteen of the 18 fish species recoded are endemic to the Fitzroy Basin, however, two exotic pest fish species; mosquitofish and guppy, were recorded in low abundance. Fish species between 19 and 500 mm successfully
migrated through the fishway, with juvenile and small prey species making up the majority of the catch. Diadromous fish species comprised 28% of the total species catch and consisted of sea mullet, flat tail mullet, barramundi, empire gudgeon and long-finned eel.

2012 Waterpark Creek Fishway Project

Waterpark Creek Weir was ranked the 16th most important barrier to fish passage in the recent ‘Fitzroy Basin Fish Barrier Prioritisation Project.  Fish community sampling prior to construction of the fishway was conducted at two sites above the weir using electrofishing techniques. A total of 342 individual fish comprised of 13 species were sampled at two sites upstream of the weir. In September 2010 a vertical slot fishway to remediate the barrier to fish migration posed by the weir was constructed. In November 2011, fishway sampling using a trap placed at the top of the fishway yielded a significant number of juvenile fish which had successfully ascended the fishway. Post fishway community sampling revealed an increase in overall species abundance but no increase in diversity. There was however a notable increase in the number of diadromous species; from 2 species prior to fishway construction to 6 after construction.

2011 Addressing Threats Posed by Invasive Aquatic Animals on Shoalwater & Corio Bay Ramsar Wetlands

To investigate the status of pest fish in Shoalwater/Corio Bay’s unique Ramsar wetlands, ‘Iwasaki’ wetlands of national significance and adjacent waterways, aquatic invasive identification surveys were carried out. Sampling was undertaken at 56 sites across five catchments over a two year period. A total of 10,335 native freshwater fish comprising 26 species representing 17 families were recorded. Significantly, no invasive pest fish or other invasive aquatic animals were sampled, making the Shoalwater Bay region significant on a national scale. Importantly, intensive aquatic surveys have provided a greater understanding of the health of the regions aquatic eco-systems
and contributed valuable information used to produce ‘Shoalwater Bay Training Area Pest Fish Management Strategy’.

2011 Shoalwater Bay Training Area Pest Fish Management Strategy

The Shoalwater Bay Training Area Pest Fish Management Strategy has been designed especially for the Australian Department of Defence
who manage the area; a relatively pristine environmental area containing a diverse and unique freshwater fish fauna including endangered and restricted species. Protecting this area from pest fish incursion is not just a State and Federal Government issue, it is also a local community issue, and through engaging all key stakeholders, it is anticipated that effective control and success on the ground can be achieved.

2010 Amity and Bridge Creeks Fish Passage Project

Amity Creek (ranked 3rd highest in priority) and Bridge Creek (ranked 25th highest in priority) were chosen for remediation following the 2008 Prioritisation report. In May 2009, a partial width rock ramp fishway was constructed on the concreted rock fill causeway located on Amity Creek, while a culvert baffle fishway was constructed on the road crossing over Bridge Creek. Fish community sampling was undertaken before and after the construction with results demonstrating that the partial width rock ramp fishway on Amity Creek is successful at passing juvenile and adult migratory fish species. A total of 397 fish between 12 and 321 mm successfully ascended the fishway, with small prey species and juvenile diadromous species making up the majority of the catch. Over 84% of the native freshwater fish species recorded upstream of the fishway in Amity and Bridge Creeks were recorded using the fishway.

2010 Eel Passage Past Large Dams: Burdekin River Drainage Basin

This report presents eel passage sampling data collected in late 2008, as well as information from previous general fish fauna surveys of the Burdekin River drainage basin to determine whether eels are successfully negotiating large dams in the Burdekin system, and provides recommendations for the implementation of future eel passage management strategies.

2010 Restoration of Fish Passage in Carpentaria Shire: Concept Design Report

In 2005 the Gulf Catchments Fish Passage Assessment examined potential fish barriers within the Southern Gulf Region identifying 15 sites that required remediation. In 2008, three sites were retrofitted with fishways and four sites were vistited to investigate fish passage options. This report details the concept designs for two sites in the region and provides reasons as to why remediation at some sites is not feasible.

2008 Fitzroy Basin Fish Barrier Prioritisation Report

The first comprehensive fish barrier prioritisation project undertaken in the Fitzroy Basin and only the second undertaken in Queensland at this scale. The primary objective of the prioritisation was to provide a list of priority instream barriers in need of fish passage remediation in the region.
The project led to the installation of fishways at instream barriers throughout the region including Amity, Moore’s and Waterpark Creeks. See Ferguson et. al. 2008, Moore and Marsden 2010, Moore and Marsden 2011, Donaldson et. al. 2012 and Moore and Marsden 2013.

2008 St Lawrence Wetland Fish Passage Improvement

In 2007, two rock ramp fishways were constructed at the St Lawrence wetlands to facilitate fish passage over the tidal bund between the estuary and the freshwater wetland. Post-construction sampling revealed a four-fold increase in total catch, and increases in species diversity and relative abundances.

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