Policy and guidelines for fish habitat conservation and management (update 2013)

Policy cover

This document outlines policies and guidelines aimed at maintaining and enhancing fish habitat for the benefit of native fish species, including threatened species, in marine, estuarine and freshwater environments. It builds on earlier versions which have been in place since the early 1990s.

The document aims to help developers, their consultants and government and non-government organisations to ensure compliance with legislation, policies and guidelines as they relate to fish habitat conservation and management. It can be used to inform land use and natural resource management planning, development planning and assessment processes. It is also a valuable tool to improve awareness and understanding of the importance of fish habitats and how impacts can be mitigated, managed or offset.

The document will feed into a range of NSW Government reform programs including strategic and regional planning processes, the assessment of State Significant Development and Infrastructure projects, aquatic biodiversity offsetting and other environmental regulation reforms, to ensure the sustainable management, and “no net loss”, of key fish habitats in NSW.

NSW DPI will take these policies and guidelines into account when assessing and either approving or refusing proposals for developments or other activities affecting fish habitats. These policies and guidelines will assist NSW DPI to apply the legislative requirements consistently and fairly to individual proposals. NSW DPI recommends proponents of developments or other activities to submit proposals that address these policies and guidelines.

Key changes from the 1999 version include:

  • the adoption of a new definition of ‘key fish habitats’ to which these policies and guidelines apply. The previous versions applied to all waterways in NSW, regardless of their value as fish habitat.
  • up-to-date legislative and policy information for planning and development assessment processes, including threatened species assessment and development affecting marine protected areas.
  • new sections tailored to different development activities affecting key fish habitats, such as the construction and maintenance of in-stream structures and barriers, various types of foreshore works and waterfront development, urban streams and stormwater management, sediment extraction in waterways and use of explosives, electrical devices and other dangerous substances in waterways.
  • new policies and guidelines for the protection of freshwater fish habitats.

This version replaces the earlier 1999 version and the Fisheries NSW Policy and Guidelines for Fish Friendly Waterway Crossings (2003). It also largely incorporates the requirements of the gazetted Fish Habitat Protection Plans No. 1 (General) and 2 (Seagrasses), which have been revoked. This reduces red tape and makes it easier for the community to comply with fish habitat protection requirements in one useful document.