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Action 4. Key habitat and threatened species resilience

Key habitat and threatened species resilience

Coastal habitats

Many important coastal environments have been impacted by flooding, such as smothering with sediment, die off due to prolonged freshwater or flood debris causing physical damage. Further, some existing land use management, particularly of drained coastal floodplain wetlands, will continue to pose risks to water quality and estuarine ecosystems in future floods, reducing the environmental resilience of these areas.
A range of projects are being implemented under the NEAP Program to assess these impacts, monitor recovery and work to implement on-ground works that will improve estuarine habitat condition and resilience, including:

A researcher stands on the edge of an estuarine creek testing salinity levels using a hand held probe.

Threatened species

Endangered fish species, such as Oxleyan Pygmy Perch (Nannoperca oxleyana), Australian Grayling (Protroctes maraena), and White’s Seahorse (Hippocampus whitei) only occur in a limited range of locations and habitats, some of which are also endangered such as Cauliflower Soft Coral (Dendronephthya australis). Their populations have declined substantially in NSW over the past two decades and both are now listed as Threatened Species in NSW. Recent floods and bushfires have severely impacted these species. Without intervention, we face the risk of losing them in NSW in the next few years.

Key habitat identification, restoration and management are important over the longer term to ensure these fish have suitable homes into the long term. Provision of artificial habitat for White’s Seahorse and protection of transplanted Cauliflower Soft Coral habitat are part of these activities. To address the urgent need to increase population numbers for Oxleyan Pygmy Perch, Australian Grayling and Cauliflower soft corals in NSW, pilot breeding and stocking conservation programs for each species will also be undertaken.

Together these habitat and breeding activities will:

  • contribute to the current knowledge and understanding of the distribution of the species in NSW
  • establish best-practice methods for species specific species breeding and ability to create captive ‘Ark’ populations
  • identify key locations for conservation stocking of captive reared fish
  • improve the survivability of transplanted Cauliflower Soft Coral habitat
  • increase the abundance of White’s Seahorse habitat
  • identify opportunities for targeted habitat restoration that would benefit Oxleyan Pygmy Perch and Australian Grayling.