|Click for full size image:.
location of the barriers that do not afford
fish any protection from human predation
Photo 2: The
barriers themselves. Fisheries are adamant
that only rounded aluminium bars be used
to prevent fish damage.
Photo 3: The
normally flowing Pondage Gates that are
now dormant to allow maintenance work to
be carried out.
Photo 4: The
foot valves through which trout can make
their way into the Pondage.
Photo 5: The
Dragon's Teeth; the site of the soon to
be installed barriers that will give a favourable
rise to the challenge and stop the possible slaughter
of larger river fish stocks while the Pondage is low.
Thankfully it doesn't happen
every year but it has this time around. Due to maintenance
work on the Intake Tower, Power Station and the Pondage
Gates into the river, the level of this popular stillwater
has been dropped as low as possible. When the Pondage
is at such levels and the river at riparian flow a unique
phenomenon can occur. The fish can migrate from the
river to the Pondage through the foot valves on the
Pondage Gates. Large breeding fish will move out of
the protected zone below the gates in the closed river
and become target-able as they roam the emptied Pondage
looking for a spawning site.
Over the last few weeks
the pressure has been put on Fisheries to prevent this
movement of fish. The loss of highly valued fish stocks
from the Goulburn into the Pondage had to be prevented
and several groups voiced their concerns over the issue.
The initial response was
to fence off a shallow run with a barrier of chain,
mesh wire and some purpose built screws held in store
by MAFRI at Snob's Creek. A few star picket posts and
chains completed the task. However the barrier was situated
on the edge of the 200 metre exclusion zone below the
Pondage and would therefore hold all the fish that will
soon run exposed in the river in a shallow run where
human predators would find them a very easy target.
Make no mistake, the greatest threat to our fish stocks
are from humans through either predation or or mismanagement
by letting them get into the Pondage where they could
be taken all year round.
After further consultation
with Peter Grant from MAFRI we went to inspect the alternative
solutions. When we arrived, Peter was already there
inspecting the possibilities. As it was a Sunday, and
Peters day off, we were impressed by his dedication
to see the problem resolved. In the discussions that
followed it was obvious that Peter was not prepared
to see a temporary or unsatisfactory fix.
Subsequently a set of screens
will be installed between the 'Dragon's Teeth' or 'Dreadnoughts'.
The concrete blocks that disperse the water across the
apron below the Pondage wall. These screens will be
made from aluminium bars, rounded so that the fish will
not damage themselves as they would have on wire.
We will keep you posted
over the next week or so!
Part 2 Below
for full size image:.
Photo1:The grills as viewed from downstream
Photo 2: The grills are made from rounded
aluminium so that the fish will not be damaged
when trying to get through
Photo 3: The side on view gives you some
idea of the work and effort involved
Photo 4: Looking from the Pondage Gates
gives possibly the most impressive view
Photo 5: These grills can be removed before
the water comes up again in Spring allowing
them to be stored away until the next time
they are needed
Last week the new grills were installed on the
Dragon's teeth much to the delight of local and visiting
promised removal of the temporary barriers located just
above the restricted zone in the area immediately below
the Pondage gates has taken place. Early last week the
work was completed and we should all applaud the willingness
of Peter Grant and his boys to find a proper and adequate
The initial information
gathered by them regarding possibly affixing barriers
to these structures (Dragon's Teeth) was incorrect with
those consulted saying it couldn't be done. They wrongly
claimed the water was too deep there for the workers
to get in. However after David got in contact with them
and convinced them that their sources were unreliable
Peter Grant went up on his Sunday and did some hands
on work confirming that this was indeed the case.
Once this was established
the wheels were set in motion and a more permanent solution
planned. The significant cost of the materials ($8,000)
was appropriated and the work was carried out without
delay. While these costs are only a fraction of what
the spawning stock threatened is worth, we were all
impressed with the willingness to get the job done and
would like to think that the Minister would find a way
to return that money to Fisheries who do run on a tight
budget. Alternatively Southern Hydro, the people responsible
for draining the Pondage to repair and maintain their
infrastructure should be footing the bill.
The grills are made of
rounded bar aluminium to prevent injury to fish that
will try and move through them. The urge to move upstream
is strong and if wire or any other sort of sharp material
was used we would have a lot of damaged fish. The placement
of the grills well above the surface prevents fish from
jumping across the barrier. As the flow passes through
the barrier fish do not try to jump as they would if
it was a natural waterfall barrier.
It is now very easy to
view large numbers of big fish that are trapped between
the new barriers and the Pondage wall. On a bright day
you can see large black torpedo shapes cruising around
and even rising. Some of these fish are estimated to
be over 10 pounds. All of this instils confidence in
us that finally true recognition of the value of the
trout fishery is slowly being acknowledged in action
as well as words.