Burdekin community celebrates World Fish Migration Day with barra release

Around 50 Burdekin landholders and community members came to Kalamia Creek, Ayr,  on Saturday 21 May to celebrate World Fish Migration Day and learn about the threats faced by local fish species.

Participants learnt that many local fish, such as barra, need to move between freshwater and estuarine areas to spawn. Without continuous passage linking fresh and saltwater, they can’t successfully breed, which impacts fish stocks.

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Scott Fry said that fish face many barriers – including physical structures such as instream weirs and floodgates, changes in water velocity, poor water quality, and blockages formed by aquatic weeds,”

“This event was about raising awareness of the potential challenges fish face whilst trying to migrate, and the conditions they need in which to thrive,” he said.

The NQ Dry Tropics event was supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Some of NQ Dry Tropics’ key local project partners came together on the day, including the Burdekin Bowen Integrated Floodplain Management Advisory Committee (BBIFMAC), Lower Burdekin Landcare, and the Burdekin Fish Restocking Association (BFRA).


Allan Griggs of the BFRA emphasised the importance of controlling aquatic weeds. He also explained that local landowners should plant trees close to creek banks because the root systems provide important fish habitat, whilst also improving water quality by preventing erosion.

“By removing  weed chokes at Sheepstation Creek, we went from having only three invasive fish species to the return of 17 native species, including Sleepy Cod.”

“More recently, Tropwater fish surveys showed far higher diversity and populations around areas where we’d planted trees, because they provide essential habitat.

All visitors joined in to tag and release young barra fingerlings into the creek, to help boost future fish stocks.

Home Hill resident Allan Petersen said he was encouraged by the passion on display by people who care about having healthy functioning waterways and creeks, with plentiful fish stocks.

“We must provide the right conditions for fish to migrate  through the system and grow. To do this we need to understand the lifestyles of different fish, and also involve locals as much as possible. I have been around these creeks for more than fifty years and I have seen how the ecology has changed,” he said.

The Burdekin event was one of more than 450 held around the globe for World Fish Migration Day, to draw attention to the importance of fisheries, fish movement and aquatic habitats for healthy fish stocks.