2004 – North American Experience with the Management of Fish Passage at Dam Structures. Is it Relevant to Australia?

David Murray, Christopher Dann and Brent Mefford

Historically dams have been built across our river systems with little regard for the impacts on fish passage both upstream and downstream of the structure. Today’s increased environmental awareness and standards means that the impacts of a dam on the fish community are key issues that must be addressed by the operators of existing dams and in the design of new infrastructure.

Although fish transfer systems are currently being retrofitted to existing structures, there is a limited Australian knowledge bank on the performance of these systems and their impact on the fish communities. This lack of knowledge coupled with the potential for more strict environmental requirements in the future requires fish transfer systems to be designed with maximum flexibility and to rely on overseas practices where a greater knowledge bank exists but which may or may not be relevant to Australian conditions. For example, high lift fish transfer systems such as fish lifts and sluicing have been commonly used in North America for the last 20 years but are only now being considered for use in Australia.

This paper presents an overview of North American experience with the management of fish passage at dam structures and considers some of the following key issues relating to Australian conditions.
1. Upstream passage.
2. Downstream Passage
3. Sluicing as a method for conveying fish.

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