FEB 15-17 – 2018
Native fish set to be big winners as Steven’s weir fishway nears completion
By Ian Fisher
The long campaign for Steven’s Weir fishway on the Edward River is nearing completion. The fishway which is expected to be finished next year will provide a clear passage upstream for native fish while removing carp at the same time. Ian Fisher and Lyle Bassett along with the Deniliquin RS.L Fishing Club started a renewed push for the project 8 years ago.
After much intense lobbying the project was given the go ahead earlier this year. The fishway will also be built in conjunction with two others at the top of the Edward and the Yallakool Edward junction at a total cost of approximately twelve million dollars. This will open up a total of 1480 km of river previously blocked by the weir structures.
The Gulpa Forest, its water ways and fish breeding habitat will finally be accessible for migrating natives to breed. In the previous 80 years, since the construction of the weir, fish migrating upstream have been blocked by the weir wall where they have been vulnerable to over fishing and poaching. Because of their confused state fish have milled around this spot for several weeks in breeding season which coincides with start of the irrigation season and the closing of the weir gates. “It is great to see that someone has finally listened and done something about the situation” Ian fisher said.
These fish are set to improve the already great fishing that can be had around Deniliquin. The last part of the fishway incorporates a carp catching cage which will remove these pests from the system. It was discovered at the fishway at Turrumbury on the Murray that carp jump and natives don’t, so the cage is placed just above the water on the exit side of the fishway and the carp jump in to it.
The R.S.L. Fishing Club is running its classic in February and in conjunction with (CMA) Catchment Management Authority, will be collecting data and doing some tagging of natives. Once the fishway is in place this should give a good data base on fish movements as the classic is held upstream of the fishway each year.
The RSL Fishing Club is also involved in native fish awareness and has educational classes for Deniliquin South School students and is looking to expand the program. Lyle Bassett runs the workshops and the students really look forward to the classes each week.
Members of the club are working hard to improve fishing infrastructure , educate the public , promote catch and release and involve students in fishing activities. Now with the help of the CMA. and NSW I&I fishing in Deniliquin area is really looking up.
Some of the 200,000 native fingerlings which have been released into the Edward River system through money raised from the Deniliquin RSL Fishing Club.
Over $130,000 has been used to purchase these fingerlings over the past 13 years
The Deniliquin RSL Fishing Club will continue to raise money in various ways which enables us to continually improve the quality of fishing and the facilities along the Edward River system.
Our ‘wish list’ of future projects will continue to evolve along with the needs of the fishing community and in consultation with appropriate authorities.
Future Projects we hope to achieve with your support include:
The Murray Catchment Management Authority is taking a lead role within the Murray Catchment in relation to native fish management and research.
Led by Catchment Officer for Water Dr John Conallin, the CMA has initiated a series of projects within the Edward-Wakool System to identify the distribution and diversity of fish within the catchment, and also how they use the system.
The CMA is also very keen to have community ownership of the projects and are initiating a community based tagging program as part of the areas local fishing classics. One of these classics is the RSL Fishing Club of Deniliquin, which is held in February each year. Ian fisher, Andrew Jefferies,and Andrew Hall are co-ordinating the event this year and we will be looking to support them as much as possible.
Members of the RSL Fishing Club have been actively involved in getting a fishway installed on the Stevens Weir. This fishway presents the perfect opportunity to monitor fish movement through the system, and with the initiation of community fish tagging programs valuable data will be collected that will give us a better understanding of our native fish populations, and aid in management.
Some other examples we have discussed include; a native fish awareness program for local people including school kids of all ages, fish tagging during the classic events. The club is also looking to expand their ‘Fishing for Friends Program’ in schools which involves introducing fishing to under privileged kids and teaching them good fishing practices.
Proceeds from the event will help this to happen.