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Ovens River waterway works support native fish at Bright and Tea Garden Creek Weir

North East Catchment Management Authority (CMA) is undertaking two fish passage projects on the Ovens River aimed at restoring habitat to support endangered native fish species at Bright and Tea Garden Creek Weir at Markwood.

The $2.6 million Bright project will see construction of a vertical slot fishway at Bright Weir on the Ovens River which is currently a barrier to fish movement. Construction of the fishway will allow fish to move up and downstream of Bright, a 42km increase in movement between Bright Weir and the headwaters of the Ovens River. It will also provide access for the fish to an additional 120km of tributaries linked to the Ovens River.

The $2.5 million Tea Garden Creek Weir project will provide for construction of a rock-ramp style fishway at Tea Garden Creek weir, opening up an additional 270km of riverine habitat and refuge upstream of Tea Garden Creek, along the Ovens River and major tributaries which connect to the Murray River.

North East CMA Executive Manager, NRM delivery, Helen Wilson, said both projects aimed to provide important fish habitat and refuge for nationally significant native species including Silver Perch, Flat-headed Galaxias, Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch and Murray Cod.

“This proposal provides an excellent opportunity to build on prior investment and enhance native fish populations in the Ovens River, which is home to one of the most significant populations of native fish in the Murray-Darling Basin and is one of two significant rivers in the Basin that has a near-natural flow regime,” Ms Wilson said.

“Without these projects major migratory restrictions in fish populations will continue, contributing to the species decline of Silver Perch, Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch, Murray Cod and Flat-headed Galaxias.

“Improving fish passage in rivers like the Ovens is vital for maintaining viable habitat for many aquatic species, particularly with the impacts of climate change on water flows and quantities in the Murray Darling Basin.”

Construction of the two fish passage projects will be managed by North East CMA in partnership with Alpine Shire Council (Bright) and Goulburn Murray Water (Tea Garden Creek Weir). Both are due for completion in June 2022. North East CMA will seek feedback from the community at key stages of the projects.

Funding for the projects is part of the Victorian Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works package. Native fish habitat and endangered native fish species will be boosted by $17 million for environmental waterway works across northern Victoria.

Minister for Water Lisa Neville said: “This work to restore waterway health and assets is also an important part of our bushfire recovery efforts”.

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