WHAT is a fishway?
A fishway is a constructed waterway that allows fish to bypass a physical barrier like a weir. The structure creates a passage so fish can move freely along a river to successfully complete all stages of their life-history, including spawning, feeding and for refuge.
Fishways are being constructed in various locations throughout the Murray-Darling Basin to help protect and boost native fish populations.
WHY is a fishway needed at the Bright Weir?
The Ovens River is home to significant populations of native fish and is one of only two rivers in Murray-Darling Basin with a near-natural flow regime.
Establishing a fishway within the Bright Weir will remove an artificial barrier that is preventing fish from migrating into the upper reaches of the Ovens catchment. Restricted fish passage is negatively impacting on breeding of native fish, which is contributing to population decline.
Providing fish passage at Bright Weir at Centenary Park is identified in the North East Catchment Management Authority Regional Waterway Strategy (2014) as a lead action (UOV LA 1.5).
WHAT will the fishway do?
The fishway will create a passage that allows fish to move more freely up and downstream across a 42 kilometre stretch between Bright Weir at Centenary Park and the headwaters of the Ovens River. Fish will also gain access to an additional 120 kilometres of tributaries linked to the Ovens River.
The fishway will give adult fish access to and from more spawning habitats, create new habitat for juvenile fish and offer fish access to and from refuge areas during droughts, floods or blackwater (poor water quality) events.
WHAT type of native fish will the fishway help?
The Ovens River is home to significant populations of native fish, including several threatened species. The fishway will benefit nationally significant native species including Trout Cod, Macquarie Perch and sub adult Murray Cod. Read more and download factsheets about threatened fish species here.
WHERE will the fishway be installed?
The fishway will be installed at the Bright Weir in Centenary Park.
WHAT type of fishway is being built at the Bright Weir?
There are many different types of fishways. Designs are selected to suit the characteristics of each site. Design choices are based on the ability of specific fish species to swim and manoeuvre against a current, and consider specific water velocities, turbulence and light levels.
After extensive research and analysis, a Vertical Slot Fishway design was selected for construction at the Bright Weir. This fishway design has proved most effective for passing native fish. It provides consistent within fishway flow conditions over a wide range of river flow conditions and can be specifically targeted for a broad size range of fish or subsets.
WHAT will the fishway look like?
A Vertical Slot fishway consists of a constructed channel divided into a series of pools, separated by baffles that have a vertical slot through which water passes. Fish move upstream by passing from pool to pool. This video shows the layout and use of a vertical slot fishway.
Pictured right: View of the fishway looking downstream from the weir bridge.
WHAT will the fishway look like? Pt 2
Right: View from the upstream weir pool looking downstream.
WHAT will the fishway look like? Pt 3
Right: A view of the Vertical Slot fishway installed at Broken Creek.
WHO is paying for construction of the fishway at Bright Weir?
In May 2020, NECMA secured $2.6 million of funding through the Victorian Government's 'Building Works' program to construct a fishway at the Bright Weir at Centenary Park. Funding for this project is part of the Victorian Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works package.
WHO will manage construction of the new fishway?
Construction of the fishway is being managed by North East CMA in partnership with Alpine Shire Council (Bright).
A tender for construction of the fishway will open in mid September 2022.
HOW is the community involved in the project?
In 2021 NECMA convened a Project Steering Group to provide oversight and review as the detailed design was developed. The Project Steering Group comprises representatives of the following organisations:
- North East Catchment Management Authority (NECMA)
- Alpine Shire Council
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)
- Taungurung Land and Waters Aboriginal Council
- Upper Ovens Landcare Group
- Bright Chamber of Commerce
WHAT materials will be used to construct the fishway?
The fishway will be constructed mostly out of precast concrete panels. This material choice will reduce onsite construction time and allow the project to occur in Autumn, thereby reducing impacts to recreation and tourists. Aesthetic treatments will be used to naturalise the fishway into the surrounding riverine environment.
HOW long will it take to build the fishway at Bright Weir?
On site fishway construction will take about 8 weeks. The pre cast concrete panels can be manufactured off site, significantly reducing construction time. Commencing construction in autumn will minimise impacts to recreation and tourists during the warmer summer months and allow construction to take place while the Ovens River flows are at their lowest.
WILL construction impact on Bright residents or visitors?
Construction will be undertaken primarily downstream of the Bright Weir to minimise impacts to recreation and is expected to take place between February and May 2023, when river flows are lowest.
Steps are being taken to reduce the impact to businesses, the Bright community and tourists by engaging with stakeholders, hearing their concerns and mitigating these where possible.
WHEN will the fishway be opened?
The fishway will be completed and operational by end of June 2023.
WILL the fishway create a hazard for people who swim in the river?
NECMA commissioned an external specialist to facilitate a design safety review of the proposed fish passage structure at the Bright Weir at Centenary Park. Alpine Shire Council officers participated in this review.
This review identified threats and groups of people most likely to be exposed to these threats. Existing and planned mitigation and controls were considered, and a number of new mitigation methods and controls.
The review concluded that all reasonably practicable precautions have been identified to manage safety associated with the operation of the proposed fish passage structure, and that the operation of the proposed fish passage structure will not result in a situation that is prohibitively dangerous for members of the public or for Council staff involved in the operation and maintenance of the structure.
Through flood modelling, NECMA has demonstrated that there will be negligible impact on flood risk to the Bright township through the construction of a fish passage structure at the Bright weir.