Habitat Action Grants

Angling clubs, individuals, community groups, local councils and organisations interested in rehabilitating fish habitats in freshwater and saltwater areas throughout NSW can apply for grants.

Habitat rehabilitation projects which may be funded include:

  • removal or modification of barriers to fish passage
  • rehabilitation of riparian lands (river banks, wetlands, mangrove forests, saltmarsh)
  • re-snagging waterways with timber structure
  • removal of exotic vegetation from waterways
  • bank stabilisation works
  • reinstatement of natural flow regimes

Applications are now closed.

For further information please contact the Habitat Action Grants Administrator on fish.habitat@dpi.nsw.gov.au or ring (02) 6626 1396 or (02) 4916 3817.

2016 application forms

Case studies

Project ideas can be found in the following brochures. These brochures provide detail on the 13 projects funded from 2002-2004 under the Clarence Pilot Fish Habitat Grant Program, a selection of 10 projects funded from 2001-2007 under the Statewide Freshwater Fish Habitat Grant Program and 11 projects funded through the Fish Habitat Grant Program since 2011.

Funded projects


Thirty one projects were funded in the 2015-2016 (PDF, 102.08 KB) Habitat Action Grants. These grants totaling over $748,000 will assist recreational anglers, local Councils, environmental and community groups and private landholders to enhance and rehabilitate degraded recreational fish habitat through a range of on-ground works. Rehabilitation of fish habitat provides long-term sustainable benefits for native fish stocks and in turn provides substantial benefits for NSW recreational fishers who will enjoy more healthy productive fisheries. Improvements in fish habitat will also provide more opportunities for rural and regional communities to promote local tourism.


Thirty one projects were funded in the 2014-2015 (PDF, 211.78 KB) Habitat Action Grants totaling over $575,000

2013-2014 Thirty projects were funded in the 2013-2014 Habitat Action Grants totaling almost $570,000

Twenty five projects were funded in the 2012-2013 Habitat Action Grants. These grants totalling almost $525,000.

2011-2012 Twenty five projects were funded in the 2011-2012 Habitat Action Grants, totalling $550,000.
2010-2011 Thirty-one projects were funded in the 2010-2011 Habitat Action Grants, totalling $545,000.

Project ideas

Removal or modification of barriers to fish passage
Many freshwater fish species are migratory and must move between a variety of habitats to complete essential life history stages. Even a small structure such as a concrete causeway or a pipe culvert can create a barrier such as a small waterfall or shallow flow depths and restrict fish movement.  The removal of barriers such as the one on Duroby Creek in the Tweed Catchment or the modification of structures through the construction of a fishway or the remodelling of a crossing such as Locketts Crossing on the Coolongolook River can have instant benefits for fish.

Rehabilitation of riparian lands (river banks, wetlands, mangrove forests, saltmarsh)
Fish and other aquatic species prefer waterbodies with healthy, endemic riparian vegetation because the plants:

  • provide food in the form of fruits and terrestrial insects, shelter, shade and fine organic material
  • are a source of woody habitat and filter sediment and excessive nutrients from run-off.

The protection of existing remnant vegetation and the rehabilitation of unhealthy riparian lands such as the project which was undertaken at Toogimbie Wetland in the Riverina or the project on the banks of Mullumbimby Creek in the Brunswick River catchment are important steps in supporting healthy fish populations.

Re-snagging waterways with timber structure
Large woody structure provides one of the most important habitats for fish within a river or creek. In some cases, numbers of native fish in a waterway are often directly related to the amount of wood. Woody structure provides protection from predators, shelter from direct sunlight, resting areas out of the main channel flow, territorial markers, breeding sites and foraging sites. Large wood in streams can also increase bank stability and reduce waterway erosion.  Re-snagging a waterway which is largely devoid of woody structure such as theMolong Creek project can provide immediate benefits to fish.

Removal of exotic vegetation from waterways
Exotic vegetation such as willows, blackberries and camphor laurel invade stream banks and exclude
native vegetation, changing the structure and function of the riparian zone, creating a poor habitat for fish. Willows, for example, are deciduous, dropping their leaves all in one go.  This alters the timing and quality of organic inputs in the stream, causes wide temperature variations and reduces the amount of shade and protection. An exotic vegetation management project in conjunction with revegetation of the area with endemic plant species such as the one at South Creek in St Marys, Sydney, will enhance stream health.

Bank stabilisation works
River bank erosion is a natural process however, grazing and pugging from uncontrolled livestock, loss of riparian vegetation, invasion of exotic plants, removal of instream woody structure and the excessive extraction of gravel or river sediments can all exacerbate the erosion process. Severe erosion of the river banks or stream bed can lead to an increase of sediment in the waterway which can affect water quality and when deposited can smother instream holes and fish habitat. Instream works such as those undertaken by private landholders at Pumpkin Point on the Karuah River or the more extensive works implemented by Port Macquarie Hastings Council on the Wilson River can assist in stabilising river banks and reducing erosion.

Reinstatement of natural flow regimes
Flood mitigation works such as water retention devices (eg floodgates) and drainage systems prevent flood waters or tidal waters from inundating low-lying land. In doing so, these measures can also affect natural flow regimes, restrict fish access to floodplain wetlands or upstream habitat and in some cases, expose acid sulfate soils.  By working with landholders such as Fred and Chris Welsh on Micalo Island in the Clarence or local Councils such as Great Lakes at Darawakh Creek/Frogalla Swamp Wetland on the mid north coast, these structures and drainage works can be modified to reintroduce flows, alleviate issues related to acid sulfate soils and allow for fish passage whilst still ensuring private assets are protected.