James Cook University's (JCU) College of Science and Engineering undertakes planning, design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation projects for aquatic fauna connectivity and fish passage. This ranges from prioritization of aquatic connectivity impacts at a catchment scale, to design, implementation and evaluation of fishway facilities at a waterway structure.

Fish passage planning and design requirements for a project are determined by the type and scale of project (e.g. design of new highway section, impact mitigation for urban waterway structure) and the stage of the project activities (e.g. preliminary concepts, implementation, monitoring and evaluation).

Aquatic fauna connectivity/fish passage design projects may relate to a range of spatial scales (e.g. catchment scale prioritisation, road corridor scale assessment, site scale fishway design). Undertaking either a broad scale (e.g. catchment) or fine scale (e.g. site) assessment/design project will determine the level of detail and the focus of the work.

Planning and design activities for these projects are best undertaken in a number of phases, leading from concept design through to detailed design and implementation. Doing this work in phases is beneficial as it provides the best opportunity to achieve the following benefits for the project:

  • provides expert input to meet multipurpose design requirements at the start of the project
  • allows progressive development of concepts, assessment, approvals and stakeholder input
  • minimises site assessment and detailed design effort in early project stages
  • reduces unnecessary financial commitment to projects that may not proceed

The scope of work for the project and the associated planning and design activities to be undertaken by JCU Engineering are determined in consultation with the client. Depending on the type and scale of the project and the stage of the project activities, this could for example include the following:

Major projects undertaken by College of Science and Engineering in aquatic fauna connectivity and fish passage planning and design at small waterway structures include:

The College of Science and Engineering collaborates in fish passage planning and design with Walaman Fishways, which develops and markets prefabricated fishway products for waterway structures.

These prefabricated fishway components are suited for installation at culverts and other small waterway structures to overcome hydraulic barriers to fish migration, provide for aquatic fauna connectivity, and meet other multipurpose design requirements.

Walaman prefabricated fishway products are used in a number of different site configurations where fish migration barrier problems are to be overcome. For example, this can include road culverts with a drop at the outlet and high velocity zones within the culvert barrel, or small waterway structures such as weirs and grade control with water surface drops downstream of the structure.

The Walaman fishway components are manufactured under controlled conditions in the factory, and are installed within fishway facilities that are designed for the particular waterway structure and site characteristics.

A number of fishway types incorporating Walaman products are available for use. For example, the Block Ramp fishway is used to overcome water surface drop, and the Offset Baffle fishway provides for upstream fish passage in high velocity culvert zones. The EL Baffle fishway incorporates floor and wall mounted units for use in box culverts where fish passage is required in deeper flow conditions. Walaman fishways are also being developed for installation in pipe culverts.