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Fish protected by projects

Australian Government funding under the Northern Basin Toolkit is helping to protect native fish by building fishways, installing screens on pumps and pipes and improving delivery of water for the environment.
Published: 08 March 2022

Northern Basin Toolkit projects to enhance ecological health 

Fish will be able to swim more freely along 2,000 km of northern Basin rivers following the recent announcement of a suite of Northern Basin Toolkit projects including fishways and fish screens on pumps. 

Structures will also be built to improve the delivery of water for the environment in the Macquarie Marshes, New South Wales, one of the largest remaining inland semi-permanent wetlands in south-eastern Australia.  

Photo of a fish screen being installed on an irrigation offtake pipe. The screen is a large (3 metre) flat cone of steel mesh.
Massive fish screens like this one are installed across pump openings to prevent fish being extracted from rivers during irrigation.

As well as ecological benefits, the $80 million in funding announced by the Australian Government Water Minister, the Hon Keith Pitt MP recently will create jobs, use local suppliers where possible, improve economic outcomes and bring social and cultural benefits to northern Basin communities.  

The 3 Northern Basin Toolkit projects are: 

  • Fish for the Future: Reconnecting the Northern Basin Project 
  • Fish for the Future: Fish-friendly Water Extraction Project – Barwon–Darling and Gwydir Rivers 
  • Macquarie Marshes Enhanced Watering Project. 

Photo of a gum tree standing in green grass on the edge of the Macquarie Marshes wetland
The stunning Macquarie Marshes in central north-west NSW will benefit from the improved flows of water for the environment from recently-announced Northern Basin Toolkit projects.

Fishways allow fish to pass around dams, weirs or other in-stream obstacles. The re-connecting the Northern Basin Project will remove barriers or modify 22 obstacles creating a 2,100km fish highway in the Barwon–Darling and Border Rivers. 

The projects have been developed with community input to improve water management practices to make best use of the available water.  

As part of the Northern Basin Toolkit and with the support of $180 million Australian Government funding, a total of 10 environmental works and measures projects will be completed by 2024. The toolkit measures support an additional 70 GL of water in productive use under the Basin Plan in the northern Basin and provide a much-needed economic stimulus to communities in the region. 

These projects, coupled with improvements to policy and management, are working towards viewing water management holistically, rather than simply in terms of volume of flow.

Where and what is the northern Murray–Darling Basin?

Map of the northern basin, with catchment areas shaded and towns labelled
The northern Murray–Darling Basin includes parts of southern Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Comprising significant areas of both southern Queensland and northern New South Wales, the northern Murray–Darling Basin represents a large part of the Murray–Darling Basin. It is defined by the catchments of the Barwon–Darling River system and its tributaries upstream of the Menindee Lakes.  

To achieve a healthy working river system for the northern Basin, measures such as those being implemented as part of the Northern Basin Toolkit, are needed.  

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