Marron, mens sheds and many hands

Last month, OzFish celebrated the very first OzFish snags and fish hotels getting placed into the waterways of Western Australia. This marks a significant leap forward in our collaborative efforts with NGOs, community organisations, universities and government who have been dedicated to enhancing the instream habitat for marron and freshwater fish species within the Harvey River. 

The project has been years in the planning and focused on revitalising a crucial section of the river which doubles as an agricultural drain. The groups have repurposed tree stumps salvaged from the Bunbury Outer Ring Road development and enlisted the expertise of the Waroona Men’s Shed, along with students from the Western Australian College of Agriculture in Harvey to help build the fish homes.  

Utilising native timbers, these skilled individuals have constructed new fish hotels designed to provide essential shelter and breeding grounds for aquatic life. 

Through strategic placement and craftsmanship, our aim is to transform this segment of the river into a thriving ecosystem, fostering biodiversity and ecological balance for the benefit of wildlife, recreational fishing and the local community. 

The woody habitats serve as sanctuaries, offering fish and marron vital refuge and defence against predators, especially juveniles. While some may perceive the fish hotels as slightly smaller compared to other designs implemented in eastern States, this is a deliberate adjustment to accommodate the relatively smaller size of native fish species in the southwest region of Western Australia. 

They will be ideal for marron, the third largest freshwater crayfish in the world which are endemic to south-west WA and fishing for them has long been a popular pastime. Environmental pressures including the destruction of riverbank vegetation, increasing salinity, climate change and reduced river flow have seen their range and number reduced. 

Looking ahead, the project’s evolution will involve planting native trees and shrubs along the riverbanks which will bring shade coverage and bank stabilisation, effectively moderating temperatures for fish and marron and fostering optimal conditions for more aquatic life to thrive. 

WA Water Minister Simone McGurk was there to see the final habitat structures be placed in the river and was thrilled to see them go in:  

“The work in the Harvey River to restore fish habitat and build resilience to a drying climate is expected to have significant long-term benefits. 

said Minister McGurk

“These fish hotels will provide refuge for native species through long and extreme dry seasons, and I’m hopeful that we’ll get some five-star guest reviews. 

she said.

At OzFish this is just the beginning of our mission to restore freshwater habitats in WA waterways. 

Already this project has inspired further works using woody habitats in nearby Collie and OzFish look forward to expanding these projects into the future. 

This project is the second stage of restoration works in Harvey River led by the Harvey River Restoration Taskforce. OzFish’s contribution to the project included helping to design, source and install the different habitat structures and is supported by the WA Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiative Fund.  
Other project partners included Water Corporation, Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, Murdoch University, Alcoa Foundation, Greening Australia, Harvey Aboriginal Corporation, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Picton Civil, the Bunbury Outer Ring Road project and the Waroona and Harvey Shires. 

This project is funded by the WA Government’s Recreational Fishing Initiatives Fund and is supported by project partner Recfishwest, and BCF – Boating, Camping, Fishing.