Lungfish to swim back into court

WITH small eyes and a dirty olive-brown complexion, the Queensland lungfish may not be the cutest fish in the river, but they have not been forgotten.

The Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council and Burnett Water Pty Ltd are set to head back to the Federal Court over a “fish lift” installed at Paradise Dam, after Federal Minister for the Environment Peter Garrett decided not to alter the original environmental approval conditions.

Wide Bay Burnett Conservation Council water policy officer Roger Currie said the group was pleased with the minister's decision.

“It appears that the minister is interested in allowing the court to take a very close look at the Queensland Government's performance for lungfish protection, and considers that the due process of law must be upheld,” he said

“The judgment in this court case will also have ramifications for Traveston Dam.”

A similar fishway has been proposed for the controversial Traveston Crossing Dam, near Gympie.

Environmental groups have been lobbying Mr Garrett to delay his decision on the new dam until the conclusion of the Paradise Dam case.

Mr Currie said the group was anxious for the trial to be concluded.

“We will run the court case, which we think will be three to four weeks, and hope that the right decision is reached,” he said.

The group claims the lift, installed to move fish over the dam wall, has failed to move a significant number of fish up or downstream in the Burnett River.

Mr Currie said it was important for the lungfish be able to move up and downstream freely to help avoid inbreeding.

The lungfish's only natural habitat is the Burnett and Mary rivers, but there are small colonies which were introduced to the Brisbane River catchment area in the 1880s.

The trial is set to resume on November 9.

A spokesperson from Sunwater Pty Ltd, which owns Burnett Water, said it was unable to comment while the case was before the court.

Read more about the lungfish.



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