Promoting fish passage in the Maribyrnong River

Native fish species that call the Maribyrnong River home are benefiting from significant works to restore their natural ‘passage’ through the river and encourage effective spawning. ​

As part of the current Healthy Waterways Strategy for all waterways under our jurisdiction, Melbourne Water has removed 14 out of the targeted 16 barriers to native fish passage. 

These works include the construction of an innovative ‘cone style’ fishway (at Garden Avenue, Brimbank Park), the first ever in Victoria.

Emily Phillips, Manager, Regional Services (West) said the strategically placed fishway was important to ensure native fish could complete their lifecycle in the Maribyrnong River. 

“Native fish such as Common Galaxias spawn in the estuary (the freshwater / saltwater interface)”, she said.

“The young fish are then swept out to sea and must migrate back upstream in order to live out their adult lives in the upper reaches of the river, returning each year to the estuary to spawn again.”  

“The cone fishway at Garden Avenue provides a critical point of passage upstream and down for native fish such as Common Galaxias, Short-Finned Eel, Tupong, Short-Headed Lamprey and Australian Smelt.”

“The innovative cone design means that at a location with limited working space (between a weir wall and a road), a soft enough gradient can be achieved, where previously fish passage efforts have been too steep to allow fish migration.”

In addition to the construction of the Garden Avenue fishway, two other barriers to natural fish passage along the Maribyrnong River have been removed or mitigated in recent years, with Arundel Weir due to have the second cone style fishway in Victoria built in the coming financial year.

 “We want to do everything possible to protect the environmental integrity of the river and ensure native species are given the best opportunity to thrive.”

 The works will also help to support rarer species not often seen in the Maribyrnong.

“Fish surveys conducted prior to work being carried out found a protected Australian Grayling in the Maribyrnong downstream of the Bluestone Ford (the most downstream barrier).We hope to see more of them now that the overall fish passage has been significantly improved.”

Melbourne Water hopes its maintenance and improvement programs and environmental water releases along the Maribyrnong will help to highlight the environmental and social value of the river.

“The Yarra receives significant focus in Victoria and we want to ensure that other important rivers like the Maribyrnong receive the same level of attention and support. Programs like fishway barrier removal are one way we can help to ensure the ecological and social value of the Maribyrnong River is preserved for the future.”
Media contact
Joseph Keller, Senior Media Advisor. Ph. 0430 219 287 | 03 9654 3234