Threatened species conservation
Over the past 200 years of European settlement the natural environment of Australia has been modified dramatically. Some of our unique animal and plant species have already been lost, and others are in danger of extinction. The increasing number of threatened species in Australia is a serious environmental issue.
While many people are aware of threatened mammals, birds and other species that occur on land, it's not as widely known that many of our aquatic animals are also under threat.
For example, in NSW there are 28 species, populations and ecological communities of fish and marine vegetation listed as threatened with extinction. This includes almost 30% (7 out of 25), of all native fin fish species found in lowland rivers. Many other species are of conservation concern.
Threatened species are animals or plants whose numbers or habitat have been reduced so much, or are facing such threats, that they're in danger of becoming extinct if we don't take action.
It's illegal to catch and keep any protected or threatened species, and any that are accidentally caught must be immediately returned to the water unharmed. There are large fines, and even imprisonment, for taking any of these species or having them in your possession.
There are also several extra rules that apply to threatened species. For example:
- people must not damage the habitat of threatened species;
- the impacts on threatened species must be considered during development assessment and approval processes;
- recovery and threat abatement plans may be developed for all threatened species and key threatening processes; and
- the Director-General of I&I NSW must prepare and adopt a Priorities Action Statement setting out the strategies to be adopted to promote the recovery of each threatened species, population and ecological community, and to manage each key threatening process.