The role of Suitably Qualified Fish Biologists in your Waterway Barrier Works Project

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

The approvals process for waterway barriers (e.g. culverts, waterway realignments) within natural waterways requires specialist assessments by suitably qualified fish biologists. These assessments ensure that the designs of the proposed waterway barriers will achieve acceptable fish passage outcomes, and give confidence to the regulator that fisheries resources will not be adversely impacted by development.

Similarly, compliance processes pursuant to development approvals for waterway barrier works generally require input from suitability qualified fish biologists. Firstly, construction phase inspections by fish biologists are a common condition of approval for waterway barrier works. These inspections ensure that the ‘as constructed’ waterway barriers are generally in accordance with the approved plans. The inspections also allow the fish biologist to provide nuanced advice to the construction team about minor construction details for enhancing fish passage and fish welfare outcomes, as the waterway barriers are being constructed.

The inspections are scheduled at key stages of the construction phase, and result in:

  • A written record of the inspection, with annotated site photographs
  • Any recommendations provided in writing (in addition to verbally during the inspection), and
  • Proposed timing of next inspection.

Additionally, post-construction monitoring by fish biologists of the performance of the design in providing fish passage is a common approval condition for development of waterway barrier works. Such monitoring is to demonstrate, using survey data, that the design of the constructed waterway barrier works is enabling fish passage by all species of the fish community. The results of the monitoring program are used to describe the performance of the design in enabling fish passage, and where performance is low, recommendations for amendment of the constructed design are provided for consideration.

The involvement of our suitably qualified fish biologists in the approvals and compliance stages of waterway barrier works design and construction minimises risk to the developer and to fisheries resources.

For additional information about Waterway Barrier Works, or to engage one of our experts, please get in touch.

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