Project to turn fish passage into fish highway on the Lower Darling

4 December 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, The Hon Keith Pitt MP
Minister for the Environment, The Hon Sussan Ley MP
Minister for Regional Health, Regional Communications and Local Government, The Hon Mark Coulton MP

The Coalition Government will provide $1.1 million funding to improve the diversity and abundance of native fish in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia, Keith Pitt said the funding would enable site investigation, design work and consultation with Lower Darling communities about improving fish passage at three weirs south of Menindee.

Minister Pitt said community involvement would be key in developing the program of works designed to improve connectivity for fish in the lower Darling River.

“All native freshwater fish in Australia need to migrate to breed and to feed,” Minister Pitt said.

“The fish deaths in the summer of 2018-19 led the Australian Government to commit $6 million to improve connectivity along the 520 kilometre stretch of river from Menindee to where the Darling meets the Murray at Wentworth.

Member for Farrer, Sussan Ley, says upgrading fish passages at the weirs will deliver benefits for both these native species and my local communities.

“This funding will provide practical improvements to the Burtundy and Pooncarie Weirs as well as Weir 32, to give our native fish a fighting chance when conditions are challenging,” Minister Ley said.

“The scoping work will make sure the refurbishment of the three weirs delivers the best technology, in the most appropriate way, at each site. I’m sure some community know-how combined with coordinated project planning can deliver much better mobility for these important native species.”

Federal Member for Parkes Mark Coulton said the direct investment would not only support native fish populations, but would also offer social and economic benefits to the area.

“This Commonwealth funding will deliver local jobs in the construction phase, as well as longer term social benefits for those recreational fishers who enjoy dropping a line in,” Mr Coulton said.

“This is a great example of how the Federal Government is delivering improved environmental outcomes in consultation with key stakeholders including the local Aboriginal community, without taking vital water from irrigators and other groups.”