Fish friendly farms

Fish Friendly farm

NSW DPI encourages “fish friendly farming”. There are two programs that aim to raise farmers’ and other landholders’ awareness about ways they can improve fish populations in their creeks and wetlands and at the same time improve on-farm productivity.

Fish friendly farms

The health of our rivers and creeks is often influenced by activities on the land, and with more than 90% of all NSW waterways running through farmland, landholders are at the forefront of efforts to restore native fish numbers in our rivers and estuaries.

Often due to poor advice or inadequate communication, many landowners carry out farming activities which can degrade aquatic habitat and lead to a loss of fish from local waterways.

Fish Friendly Farms is a NSW DPI program that encourages farmers to protect fish habitat on and off their properties through sustainable agricultural practices.

This innovative program, assisted by the NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers and supported by funding from the Murray Darling Basins Commission’s Native Fish Strategy and an NRAC Forging Partnerships grant, provides educational field days, workshops and publications on fish friendly land management, fish habitat, fish species and funding opportunities for landholders.

The program encourages actions which enhance the health of our rivers and creeks and build native fish populations, including:

  • have large woody debris (snags) in streams
  • grow native vegetation on the stream bank (riparian area)
  • install fish friendly crossings
  • control or treat agricultural run-off
  • provide water for stock off-stream
  • control the opening of floodgates
  • protect wetlands.

Fish Friendly Farms publications

7 Key Tips for a Fish Friendly Farm provides technical advice on how to have a Fish Friendly Farm, details of why each aspect is important for native fish, contact details if advice is needed in making farms fish friendly, and also information about what grants are available to undertake on-ground works.

Fishes on Cotton Farms provides information for irrigators and anglers in North West NSW about how they can help native fish and their habitat. This 54 page book has been developed to help landholders protect native fish and includes information on common species of fish in northwest NSW.

What fish is this? is a guide to 56 species of freshwater fish in NSW. The Guide includes detailed colour pictures for each species as well as maps indicating their geographic distribution and is glazed to allow readers to take it down to the water's edge.

A recent article (Dec 2009) in the Farming Ahead magazine published by the Kondinin Group. This article showcases the work being done by farmers to become more fish friendly and includes a great interview with a keen fishing farmer.

Wetlands on farms

Wetlands on Farms is a program to assist landholders integrate their wetland/s into their farming management. It is currently operating in all catchments west of the Great Dividing Range. Recommendations have been developed to guide the management of wetlands on farms in inland NSW.

Wetlands can be beautiful places. This program is recognises that they can add value in terms of productivity, catchment health and the natural environment through:

  • improving the productive and financial value of property
  • providing opportunistic grazing and cropping
  • slowing flood waters and thus reducing erosion
  • helping to remove nutrients and pollutants from water, reducing the risk of algal booms and poor water quality downstream
  • providing excellent habitat and breeding grounds for fish, birds and other native plants and animals
  • providing recreational opportunities
  • having important social and cultural values.
Cattleyard Swamp

Cattleyard Swamp. Photo: Sam Davis

The Wetlands on Farms team helps landholders develop a wetland management plan for their property by using:

  • a comprehensive best management practice guide for wetlands in inland NSW
  • a GIS-based wetland planning tool producing information specific to your property.

This will result in:

  • high resolution maps of a property using the most up to date information
  • a property specific wetland plan including detailed management actions.

On a farm near Narromine, a farmer embarked on a process of rehabilitating his wetlands. These photos were taken in 1994-5.

A dry paddock prior to wetland rehabilitation
Another dry paddock prior to wetland rehabilitation

The same scenes in 2007.

A wetland on the way to being rehabilitated
Another area of wetland where once there was dry paddock

See also ...