Most fish habitat in NSW has been modified, lost or destroyed through human-induced change. We have regulated rivers, removed mangroves and saltmarsh for coastal development, drained wetlands and fish nursery habitat, constructed structures which restrict river flow and inhibit fish migration and removed macrohabitat such as fallen timber. These changes have put pressure on native fish populations. Fewer fish means reduced fishing and greater scrutiny of fishing activities.
We can all be inspired by the many recreational anglers throughout NSW who are doing things to improve fish habitat. They plant trees on riverbanks, protect mangroves and seagrass beds, clean up rubbish at local fishing spots, help out at carp muster events and raise awareness about structures that restrict fish movement.
Recreational anglers spend many hours standing or sitting on river banks, on beaches and rock platforms, wading in the shallows, sitting in boats or kayaks and generally taking in the aquatic environment. As such, they are the eyes and ears of our river systems – if something isn't quite right they are regularly the first to realise it. Fishers for Fish Habitat is an innovative project which recognises the involvement of recreational anglers in habitat improvement initiatives and aims to inspire anglers to do what they can to protect and enhance these vital areas that our native freshwater fish need to survive and thrive.
The Fishers for Fish Habitat project is funded by revenue raised by the NSW recreational fishing fee.
Funding from the Recreational Fishing Trusts for projects that restore, rehabilitate and protect fish habitat in NSW is available through the Habitat Action Program. These Habitat Action Grants are available in August each year and require the completion of a habitat-specific Funding Application form. Applications for funding are sought from individuals, fishing clubs and organisations, community groups or local councils interested in rehabilitating fish habitats in freshwater and saltwater areas of NSW. For further information, look at the Habitat Action Grants page or contact the Habitat Action Program coordinator on firstname.lastname@example.org or ring (02) 6626 1107.
The Forums provide an opportunity for fishers to get together, share their fish habitat stories and hear from people working to rehabilitate aquatic habitat. The inaugural Forum, in 2009, was held in Ballina. The 2010 Forum was in Lake Macquarie and the 2011 Forum in Tamworth; the first west of the Great Dividing Range. In 2012 the Forum took a different form, morphing into 9 mini-forums across the State. We helped our inter-State fisher-friends in 2013, providing mini-forums near Stanthorpe, Queensland, and in Lake Mawson and Renmark (South Australia). 2014 saw a return to the west of the State and to the longer format.
Inspirational tales of everyday fishers making sure there will be fish their local fishing spots into the future.