Upstream passage of fish through a vertical-slot fishway in an Australian subtropical river
The effectiveness of a vertical-slot fishway on the Burnett River barrage for facilitating migration of fish was assessed. In 100 samples taken at the top and bottom of the fishway, over 52 000 fish representing 34 species were collected at a maximum rate of 4500 fish per day. In contrast, less than 2000 fish ascended the original pool-and-weir fishway in 128, 24 h samples at the top between 1984 and 1987. Juvenile size classes dominated the abundance of many species in the present study and fish between 24 and 930 mm in length ascended the vertical-slot fishway. However, passage of small fish was restricted and for new fishways on tidal barriers a further reduction in head loss between pools is recommended. Importantly, the width of the vertical-slots was too small for effective upstream passage of large Queensland lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri (Krefft). The greatest diversity of fish species was found during low river flows. The findings suggest that vertical-slot fishways with wide pools and low turbulence pass a diverse range of fish fauna present in subtropical coastal rivers.