Checking in to the Fish Hotel

'Fish hotels' improve river health by reintroducing complex woody habitat into the waterway to benefit native fish and provide new recreational fishing opportunities for families and their children to enjoy.

The Victorian Fisheries Authority in partnership with Melbourne Water, The Department of Justice and VicForests have been collaborating to create important new fish habitat in the mid to upper reaches of the Maribyrnong River estuary. This work is one part of a much larger Maribyrnong River Native Fish Revival Project led by The Victorian Fisheries Authority.

Fish hotels are built structures that are anchored to the bed of the river and made from a range of materials including rocks, concrete formwork, and timber. They are expected to last up to 20 years. Two different habitat types were utilised for the project – timber hybrid complexes and rocky piles. Thirty-four in-water fish habitat structures were installed in 2022 between Flemington Racecourse and Canning Street Bridge.

Fish hotel locations in the Maribyrnong Rivers Estuary. Credit: Victorian Fisheries Authority
Fish hotel locations in the Maribyrnong Rivers Estuary. Credit: Victorian Fisheries Authority

The fish hotels will reintroduce woody habitat into the river that has historically been removed from waterways. This habitat protects fish from currents and predators; as well as providing safe breeding habitats and protection from predators.

As part of the project, Victorian Fisheries Authority are also restocking the river with native estuary perch.

WATCH - Maribyrnong River Native Fish Revival Project

Links to the Healthy Waterways Strategy - Maribyrnong catchment

Works to improve fish habitat through the installation of fish hotels aligns with performance objectives in the Healthy Waterways Strategy to improve connectivity for fish. This work, along with the removal of key fish barriers in the Maribyrnong River, supports populations of fish between the mouth of the Maribyrnong River to the confluence with Deep Creek and Jacksons Creek.

This work also supports social values in the Maribyrnong Estuary by supporting key recreational activities such as fishing.