Fish move into ‘motels’

Macquarie perch fingerlings released in the Ovens River.
Macquarie perch fingerlings released in the Ovens River.
The fish “motel” structure.

The fish “motel” structure.

A small Murray cod is released.

A small Murray cod is released.

SCIENTISTS and river health teams are using reclaimed timber from a tornado in the Yarrawonga area to create a series of fish “motels” along the Ovens River.

New habitats for native fish are being funded from recreational fishing grants.

The North East Catchment Management Authority and representatives from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries attached to the Arthur Rylah Institute are involved in developing the new habitat.

The push for additional fish habitat coincides with a large number of recent fish stockings in the region.

The habitat structures are starting to be built between Tarrawingee and Everton today.

“Native fish look for snags and complex structures in a river when they are seeking shelter or it’s time to spawn (breed),” said Anthony Wilson, the catchment co-ordinator with the authority.

“Previous mapping of in-stream woody habitat in the Ovens River identified a lack of in-stream logs and timber for native fish species.

“That’s why we are creating these ‘motels’ for native fish.”

The fish motels are constructed by layering logs in a crisscross formation to form a tower-like structure that provides bulk and complexity for the fish species through differing water heights of the river.

The structures are then held in place within the river by large poles that are pinned into the river bed.

Mr Wilson said it was initially difficult to source native timber for the innovative fish habitat project.

“Streamline Environmental Project Management based in Yarrawonga helped us source the hardwood we needed to build these structures from tornado damaged areas,” he said.

“In doing so, we are helping to clean up storm damaged vegetation in the Yarrawonga community and offering environmental benefits for the Ovens River and its native fish populations.”

Earlier this month 5000 Macquarie perch were stocked in two spots along the Ovens River with another 33,000 released in five spots at Gapsted, Whorouly, Oxley Flats, Tarrawingee and Rocky Point last Wednesday.

About 20,000 Murray cod have been released into the Mitta River.

The North East Anglers Association with the department released 1400 catfish in Lake Moodemere near Rutherglen two weeks ago.