The Weir Removal Program
Non Technical Summary
Barriers such as weirs and crossings impede and in some cases prevent movement of fish into upstream habitat. Removal of barriers to fish passage will result in improved water quality, biodiversity and provide recreational angling benefits.
NSW Fisheries has been working in close association with the Department of Land and Water Conservation to coordinate the Weir Review Program which arose from the State Weirs Policy, a component of the Water Reform in 1995.
The Weir Review Program involved undertaking an environmental audit of all publicly and privately licensed weirs. Initially, NSW Fisheries completed a desktop prioritisation of weirs within each catchment using a set of established criteria, followed by onground inspections, from which arose recommendations for their management. The detailed reviews currently being undertaken are looking specifically at the advantages and disadvantages of removal, taking into account the ecological, hydrological and social aspects of each weir.
The significance of unlicensed structures including crossings and weirs to fish passage are also being assessed and recommendations being made to remove non-functioning structures and modify utilised barriers.
With funding from the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust, NSW Fisheries is providing a service to all stakeholders across NSW to help identify potential barriers to fish and manage them appropriately. Costly routine maintenance on disused or unimportant structures can place significant financial burdens on responsible parties. By removing these structures to improve riverine environments and fish passage in the local area, it can also dissolve potential legal issues such as workers safety and public liability.
The Fish Passage Project Officer based in Tamworth is available for consultation and facilitation of removal projects. Any queries in relation to removal and fishway construction will be attended to as high priority issues. NSW Fisheries is working with councils, private landholders and corporate organisations across the state to better manage instream structures to create healthier rivers and improve their native fish populations.