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More Than 1600 Fish Relocated

AUSTRALIA - More than 1600 fish have been relocated within the Shoalhaven River during construction of a fish lift at Tallowa Dam early last week.

NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Scientist, Dr Dean Gilligan said NSW DPI worked with Leighton Contractors, the Southern Bass Fishing Club, the Department of Water and Energy, and the Sydney Catchment Authority to remove the fish before a pool below the dam wall was drained Monday last week, for construction of the dam’s new fish lift.

“The pool below the Tallowa Dam wall is known to be a point where fish aggregate as they try to migrate upstream,” Dr Gilligan said.

“We knew that a large number of fish would be stranded as the water level was lowered, so organised a team to relocate the fish downstream so that they can continue to inhabit the Shoalhaven River and maintain the river’s healthy stocks.”

A team of eight DPI Fisheries staff worked with the Southern Bass Fishing Club, Leighton Contractors and the Department of Water and Energy to relocate the fish, which involved catching the fish with hand nets and carrying them across to the river in tubs and buckets.

“We were able to tag a number of fish with external and microchip tags which will help us monitor fish movements once the Sydney Catchment Authority’s new fish lift is operational,” Dr Gilligan said.

“It is part of a joint DPI and Sydney Catchment Authority program to monitor the effectiveness of the new fishlift and downstream fish passage at the dam.

“Scanners will communicate with the microchip tags and record each time a fish passes through the new fishlift or uses the downstream fish passage.

“This will give us valuable information on how and when different fish species use the fishlift, how fish respond to changes in flow in the river and generally help improve our understanding of the migratory patterns of fish in coastal rivers.

“In total 163 fish were tagged including Australian bass, long-finned eel, sea mullet and freshwater mullet, and European carp.

“We also released a large number of native fish species too small to tag including bullrout, striped gudgeon, cox's gudgeon, flat headed gudgeon, dwarf flat headed gudgeon and Australian smelt.

“Local anglers who catch a tagged fish can call the DPI number on the external tag. If they provide DPI with the tag number of the fish, details of the capture date and location, the length of the fish and their contact details, DPI will send them a fishing lure as a reward for their help.

“This information will help ensure the Shoalhaven River continues to be a popular fishing and tourist spot well into the future.”