Aquatic Fauna Management Plan: Keeping our aquatic habitat out of harm’s way throughout the project development phase

Post Date
31 May 2024
Ben Cook
Read Time
2 minutes
  • Marine science
  • Ecology

Aquatic environments, such as waterways and farm dams, commonly occur within operational works sites. In such cases, development approvals may permit the infilling (or partial infilling) of farm dams, the construction of waterway barriers on waterways and / or the realignment of waterways. These development activities may require temporary or permanent dewatering of aquatic habitat. Additionally, maintenance works of water infrastructure, such as weirs and dams, may require dewatering of a temporary workspace, such as within spillway pools.

Proposed dewatering of aquatic habitat for these purposes firstly requires relevant regulatory approvals, which in turn generally requires the preparation and implementation of an Aquatic Fauna Management Plan (AFMP) (or similar Fish Salvage Management Plans or Dam Dewatering Plans). Maintenance of water treatment ponds (e.g. de-sludging) may also require aquatic fauna management, even if dewatering is not required.

AFMPs generally specify:

  • Environmental monitoring to be implemented during dewatering (e.g. dissolved oxygen monitoring)
  • Desktop assessment of species likely present
  • Aquatic fauna salvage and relocation, including:
  • Permits required for salvage and review of applicable guidelines (e.g. the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Fish Salvage Guidelines)
  • Qualifications and experience required for persons undertaking salvage
  • Stages of dewatering and fauna salvage to be implemented, and proposed timing and duration for each stage
  • Salvage equipment and method
  • Relocation sites and transit route
  • Relocation vessel types and water quality monitoring of vessels during salvage and transport
  • Maximum holding times
  • Management of pest species, including ethics-approved euthanasia and disposal
  • Indicators of salvage success
  • Reporting of salvage method.

Preparation and implementation of AFMPs require specialist fish biologist input, and an understanding of the likely fish and turtle species that will require salvage. In some cases, a pre-salvage survey is undertaken to support preparation of the AFMP and provide an understanding of the species present and the biomass requiring salvage and relocation.

Our fish biologists and aquatic ecologists are highly experienced in preparing and implementing AFMPs.

Should you have a requirement for aquatic fauna salvage to support dewatering for your development project, please get in touch

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