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Mechanical fishways

Mechanical fishways

Wyarlong Dam (Teviot Brook/ Ikkaybin, Queensland) fish lift showing hopper at top Photo by Andrew Berghuis


Mechanical fishways are structures that have moving parts to transfer fish from one side of a barrier to the other. They all operate by attracting fish into a sealable chamber at the downstream side of the barrier (tailwater level). The chamber is moved or filled to the storage level of the dam or weir pool, where fish are mechanically moved to so that they can exit the chamber into the upstream pool. Mechanical fishways on medium and high dams should also be designed to pass fish safely downstream[1] given catadromous species, such as barramundi, bass and striped mullet (valuable commercial and recreational fishes), migrate downstream to estuarine areas to spawn.

Disclaimer: In addition to the standard disclaimer located at the bottom of the page, please note the Fishways (biopassage structures) disclaimer.


  1. ^ Mallen-Cooper, M & Stuart, IG (5 January 2007), 'Optimising Denil fishways for passage of small and large fishes: Small and Large Fishes in Denil Fishways', Fisheries Management and Ecology. [online], vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 61-71. Available at: [Accessed 10 November 2020].

Last updated: 10 May 2021

This page should be cited as:

Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2021) Mechanical fishways, WetlandInfo website, accessed 13 April 2023. Available at:

Queensland Government
WetlandInfo   —   Department of Environment and Science