Aquatic habitat

Aquatic habitat rehabilitation initiatives encompass a range of
projects targeted at protecting and enhancing fish habitat,
along with creating improved environmental conditions to build fish
populations naturally.

Priority Area Snapshot


Made available for on-ground rehabilitation activities to improve fish habitat

community-driven projects

Landcare and Ozfish partnership projects established across NSW over three years

native trees and shrubs

Planted under the community-driven projects to improve fish habitat

Habitat Action Grants

Habitat Action Grants fund a range of stakeholders to undertake on-ground fish habitat rehabilitation initiatives that, in turn, support fish populations and improve recreational fishing opportunities across NSW.

Key achievements:

  • $850,000 made available to fishing clubs, community groups, individuals, local councils and natural resource management groups in freshwater and saltwater environments to conduct practical on-ground rehabilitation activities to improve fish habitat
  • a range of on-ground activities including management of stock access to waterways, native revegetation, erosion control, reintroduction of woody habitat into rivers and estuaries, weed control, wetland rehabilitation and the reinstatement of fish passage
  • OzFish and rec fishers installed 15 large timber snags, planted more than 1,000 native trees and shrubs and engaged the community in rubbish removal within the Bottle Bend Reserve on the lower Murray River using a Habitat Action Grant
  • the Orara Valley Rivercare Group Management Committee installed a series of pin logs and log deflectors to stabilise significant bank erosion along the Orara River. Rivercare volunteers helped plant native tree and shrub species to aid in long-term bank stabilisation, filter runoff and improve water quality, riparian biodiversity and fish habitat.

Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grants

The Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grant program builds on the success of the Habitat Action Grant Program to address major habitat-related issues affecting the viability of coastal fisheries, improve resilience and deliver better recreational fishing opportunities. Funding provided through these grants enables large-scale aquatic habitat rehabilitation projects to be undertaken.

Key achievements:

  • Tweed Shire Council completed more than 100m of riverbank stabilisation and installed 13 fish hotels, leading to improved water quality and enhanced fish habitat. The site was identified in the erosion management plan developed in stage one of the project and targeted for stage 2 on-ground works in consultation with local fishers and stakeholder groups
  • Byron Shire Council completed the remediation of a second causeway on the lower Brunswick River. This causeway was the final barrier to fish passage in the lower Brunswick River.

Landcare NSW & OzFish Unlimited community partnership driving fish habitat action

OzFish Unlimited and Landcare NSW established 30 partnership projects across NSW in 2022-23 that led to improvements in fish habitat.  Projects were split equally between fresh and coastal waters in the third and biggest year for the partnership so far.

Key achievements:

  • 60 community-driven partnership projects established across NSW over three years
  • attracting almost $1 million of extra funding from a wide variety of sources
  • improvements to fish habitat including planting 15,750 native trees and shrubs, weed control measures across 24 hectares riparian zone, the installation of 81 in stream woody habitat structures and 460 tonnes of rocky habitat, the removal of 1.5 tonnes of rubbish
  • 14 community education workshops conducted, two translocations of threatened native fish and eDNA sampling for threatened species.

Coldwater Pollution Mitigation

Cold water pollution (CWP) results from releasing cold water from dams into rivers during warmer months, contributing to declining native fish in NSW. About 2,000 km of lowland river habitat is impacted. NSW Government is updating the Cold Water Pollution Mitigation Strategy to alleviate CWP's impact from major dam releases on downstream waterways.

Key achievements:

  • initiation of the Cold Water Pollution Working Group to guide development and implementation of the Revised Cold Water Pollution Mitigation Strategy
  • production of the draft Revised Cold Water Pollution Mitigation Strategy for finalization in early 2023-24
  • strategic funding acquired for the Pindari Dam Bubble Plume Destratification Program for Stage 1 activities (system design and purchase). The program aims to assess the cost-effectiveness of bubble plumes in mitigating CWP and associated reservoir water quality issues.

Tangaroa Blue - Look after your Tackle

This project involves Tangaroa Blue tackling fishing and waterway litter at its source to raise awareness, collect valuable data, change behaviours and take action that prevents and removes litter across NSW’s waterways. In an Australian-first, selected recreational fishing and packaging items are collected and diverted from landfill through an innovative repair, reuse and recycle framework– a truly circular program that fills a current recycling gap.

Key achievements:

  • Rig Recycle bins at 40 locations across the state including tackle stores and local councils with more to come
  • engaged with recreational fishing industry members on ways to reduce packaging, slack-filling in packaging and increase recycling rates.

Aquatic habitat protection and fish conservation

This program provides fish conservation management services for the Greater Murray (Murray, Lower Darling and Murrumbidgee catchments), and Southern (Snowy Mountains, Southern Tablelands and Southern Highlands catchments) regions to enhance the protection of key fish habitat and increase recreational fisher involvement in fish habitat protection and management. A key responsibility of this program is to assess development proposals with potential impacts on fish habitat and provide development conditions that ensure no net loss of fish habitats.

Key achievements in the Greater Murray region:

  • more than 220 development proposals with potential adverse impacts on key fish habitat were assessed and conditions applied to ensure “no net loss” of fish habitats from development activity
  • developments and worksites on waterways were inspected by Fisheries officers, and follow-up action was undertaken where necessary to ensure compliance with remediation orders to restore damaged fish habitat
  • involvement in community and media engagements that promote fish habitat conservation, including the Tirkandi Inaburra fishing workshop alongside Fishcare Volunteers at Narrandera Fisheries Centre.

Key achievements in the Southern region:

  • more than 205 development proposals and 50 permit applications with potential adverse impacts upon key fish habitat were assessed and conditions imposed that ensured “no net loss” of key fish habitats from development activity across South East NSW
  • four new priority fish passage blockages were identified in South East NSW through development assessment work and negotiations initiated to rehabilitate these
  • presentations on the importance of saltmarsh, seagrass and mangroves as fish habitat were delivered at community engagement events in recreational fishing havens – Curalo Lake and Merimbula Lake
  • representation of the environmental, social and economic values of fish habitat and recreational fishing in the preparation of Coastal Management Plans and Water Sharing Plans on the South Coast.

2022-23 Annual Report

Income and expenditure from the Trusts are subject to an annual audit and regular announcements are made about licence fee expenditure. DPI also carries out periodic surveys of recreational fishing licence holders to ensure that the broad funding priorities are in line with angler expectations.

Download the 2022-23 Annual Report