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Keywords:

  • diversions;
  • fish larvae;
  • river rehabilitation;
  • water extraction

Summary  The Australian irrigation industry diverts significant volumes of water from our rivers, and as such, may also divert and entrain riverine fish. Although it is widely acknowledged that our native fish fauna have been greatly affected by a variety of anthropogenic changes, little is known about the extent or significance of fish entrainment in irrigation systems. This paper presents results from a preliminary investigation into the diversion of fish into irrigation channels undertaken in the Goulburn-Murray Irrigation Network, Victoria, Australia. The case study and our knowledge of the life-history strategies of the Basin's fish fauna suggest that the loss of native fish into irrigation networks may be a substantial problem, which, up until recently, has been largely ignored. We strongly suggest that the impact of diversions on native fish populations requires urgent further investigation and quantification, through the cooperation of water management authorities and fish biologists.