Fish habitat improvements

Fish passage

Eleven fishways were installed and/or improved between 2013 and 2016, over the course of the Urban Reef Rescue Project. As a result, a previously restricted habitat and refuge was opened to greater migration opportunities over a range of flows, which aids the health and ecological function of lower catchments by building resilience within local fish communities. Four fish ladders were each installed adjacent to Little McCreadys and Lagoons Creek, one fish ladder in Blackrock Creek, and two fish ways were remediated in Gooseponds Creek. Post works fishway assessments, to demonstrate the efficacy of the ramps, are ongoing.

Remediation of fish ladder at Goosepond Creek will assist fish migration
between fresh water and marine environments.

Instream vegetation provides habitat and refuge, stabilises banks, improves water quality and reduces water velocities.

Black Rock Creek rock ridge fish ladder.

Fish hotels

The Gooseponds, located in lower Janes Creek, Mackay is one of the few systems within the lower Pioneer catchment that provides aquatic connectivity between estuarine and freshwater wetland habitats. The headwaters of the catchment offer good habitat for a variety of fish species; providing habitat variation and sufficient pond depths to survive drought. The urbanised sections of the creek (the ponds) lack such features, despite high recorded species richness in the lower catchment. To complement fish passage improvement works, 5 engineered wood structures (aka fish hotels) were installed to increase availability and complexity of in-stream habitat. Not only do the hotels improve the instream habitat conditions for native fish species, they also have the potential to reduce the ongoing threat of a declared noxious fish species, Tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus). Tilapia is shown to proliferate in systems exhibiting poor water quality and limited habitat availability. Tilapia is highly invasive, feeding on and competing with native fish, their eggs and aquatic macrophytes which are important in nutrient cycling, habitat provision and as a food source for aquatic fauna. Habitat improvements using instream structures will allow indigenous fish species to effectively compete with tilapia and reduce their spread and impact. Increased habitat will enhance the health and ecological function of the lower wetland complex through an increase in aquatic macroinvertebrate and fauna diversity.

One of three fish hotels installed within Janes Creek to improve instream habitat and protect juvenile barramundi from tilapia predation.