Protecting fish and farms: incentivising adoption of modern fish-protection screens for water pumps and gravity-fed diversions in Australia

This is a Preprint and has not been peer reviewed. The published version of this Preprint is available: This is version 2 of this Preprint.

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Tom Sutherland Rayner , John Conallin, Craig A. Boys, Rodney Price


Modern fish-protection screens offer significant potential benefits for Australia. The Commonwealth and New South Wales (NSW) governments have invested over $30m to incentivise early adoption by water users. However, successful adoption requires an understanding of the motivations and abilities of water users, and strategies to overcome key barriers to adoption. Four practices have been used in NSW to strengthen understanding of stakeholders and encourage participation in incentive programs by water users. These are: apply social learning concepts to screening programs; evaluate stakeholder needs; identify and map stakeholders and their relationships; and, integrate science in communication and engagement. Analysing the motivations and abilities of water users revealed three key motivations: to save money, to protect fish, and to improve their reputation or social licence to operate. However, the ability of water users to install a fish-protection screen was found to vary significantly. We collate the range of barriers identified by water users in NSW, together with the solution or strategy we have used to address each one. Today, in Australia, over 36,000 ML/day of water is being delivered through modern fish-protection screens, protecting an estimated 580,000 native fish annually at 31 sites across NSW, Victoria and Queensland (60% being in NSW). Existing investment should see these numbers increase to approximately 126,000 ML/day and 1.1 million native fish/yr by June 2024. Application of the methods to understand and strategically engage with stakeholders should enable improved uptake of screening technologies in other jurisdictions and areas of conservation implementation into the future.





Diffusion of innovations, fish conservation, incentives, social licence


Published: 2023-02-18 01:15

Last Updated: 2023-08-08 01:00

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CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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