A NSW Government website

Northern Basin Toolkit

Fish passage: Reconnecting the Northern Basin project

Creating fish migration paths across more than 2000 km of waterways.

Recessed partial-width Rock Ramp Fishway, Barwon River, Brewarrina. Credit: Jason Baldwin, DPI Fisheries

About the project

Australian native fish migrate along our rivers to spawn, find food and shelter, as well as to avoid threats such as drying habitats. The Barwon-Darling and Border Rivers are the main fish migration pathway in Northern Basin.

Fish for the Future: Reconnecting the Northern Basin project seeks to improve connectivity across the northern Basin and deliver ecological outcomes by reinstating the movement and abundance of migratory native fish species.

This major infrastructure program aims to address barriers to fish passage at priority sites across the northern Basin, providing a connected ‘highway’ for native fish to migrate.  Infrastructure solutions aiding fish migration will primarily be focussed on the construction of fishways.

The project is being delivered using a staged approach, with project development activities occurring in parallel with some early on-ground works.

Stage one will occur in mid-2023 with a submission of Milestone 3 to the Australian Government on the strategic options. The project is funded by the Australian Government and is being delivered by Water Infrastructure NSW in partnership with the Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries.

The Australian Government has provided $56.8 million to fund the project.

Project benefits

The project will generate significant benefits, including:

  • increased movement of native fish species across the northern NSW Murray Darling Basin
  • increased abundance of native fish species in the system
  • enhanced cultural values for First Nations communities (native fish are an important part of First Nations cultures in the region)
  • support for regional economies and the creation of local job opportunities during construction
  • increased regional tourism opportunities as native fish populations increase
  • sustained management of agricultural and water resources with reduced ecological impact.

Project location

The proposed works will provide access to more than 2000 km of aquatic habitat in the Barwon-Darling and Border Rivers (Macintyre and Dumaresq).

Project map

View a map (PDF, 222 KB) of the proposed project area in the Barwon-Darling.

Project map

View a map (PDF, 227 KB) of the proposed project area in the Border Rivers.

About fishways

Fishways are structures placed on or around constructed barriers, such as dams or weirs, to provide a passageway to help fish migrate.

Find out more about the different types of fishways, or view several fishway diagrams below:

Stakeholder engagement

We will provide opportunities for local communities and stakeholders to have their say on the project throughout its stages of development and delivery, and this feedback will be used as a key input into project decision-making. Upcoming engagement opportunities will be listed on this webpage and on our stakeholder engagement page.

Engagement with First Nations people

We recognise and acknowledge the unique relationship and deep Connection-to-Country that First Nations people have as the Traditional Owners and First Peoples of Australia.

The wisdom and experience of First Nations communities will play a role in informing our approach. We have a dedicated engagement team who will guide our engagement with these communities, and we look forward to working with them to deliver real and tangible outcomes.

Contact us for more information


1300 081 047

Photo credit: Jason Baldwin, Department of Primary Industries - Fisheries