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


Planted along NSW riverbanks to provide shade, stable water temperatures, insect fall and eventually snags for fish


Commonwealth and NSW government funding for 43 priority fish barriers totalling more than $140 million

Habitat Action Grants

Habitat Action Grants provide funding to a range of stakeholders (including angling clubs, individuals, community groups, local councils and organisations) to undertake on–ground fish habitat rehabilitation initiatives that support fish populations and, in turn, improve recreational fishing.

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 undertaken, including management of stock access to waterways, revegetating areas with native plants, erosion control, reintroduction of woody habitat into rivers and estuaries, weed control and wetland rehabilitation
  • two significant re-snagging projects (by Penrith City Council) along the Nepean River near Penrith at Fowler and Emu Green Reserves
  • Tamworth Local Aboriginal Land Council has successfully undertaken willow control and riparian fencing along the banks of the Peel River, home to the Murray Cod. These works will assist in the recovery of fish habitat and stabilisation of the banks.

Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grants

The Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grants Program builds on the success of the Habitat Action Grants to address major habitat-related issues affecting the viability of coastal fisheries. The program, which builds on Habitat Action Grants, seeks to tackle much larger scale projects that need more funding assistance.

Key achievements:

  • Investigations into Swanpool Wetlands (part of the Macleay River estuary) by North Coast Local Land Services are complete, assisting resource managers to determine acid sulfate management options to improve estuarine health
  • completed riparian restoration activities (by Nambucca Valley Landcare) in the Nambucca River and South Creek at Bowraville, including erosion control works to protect important fish habitats
  • Tweed Shire Council completed a Tweed River Estuary Erosion Management Plan, providing a proactive (rather than reactive) approach to erosion management through robust engineering solutions that maintain and enhance fish habitat within the estuary.

Landcare NSW & OzFish Unlimited community partnership driving fish habitat action

OzFish Unlimited and Landcare NSW have combined forces to work on activities that restore locally important waterways and fish habitat across inland and coastal NSW. The network of skilled volunteers will continue the work well into the future.

Key achievements:

  • Further development of strong working partnerships between Landcare NSW and OzFish, with 25 different OzFish and Landcare groups working together
  • 16 community driven, on-ground fish habitat restoration projects established, totalling close to $1 million of habitat restoration work in NSW
  • 12,000 more trees planted along NSW riverbanks to provide shade, stable water temperatures, insect fall and eventually snags for fish. Almost 20 km of riverbank restored; along with 1.5 km of protective fencing, 18 more woody snags and 10 rocky reefs installed, two cultural engagement site plans completed and eDNA sampling used.

Fish Passage

DPI Fisheries is implementing the NSW Fish Passage Strategy to significantly improve native fish access to nearly 9,000 km of mainstream rivers and key off-channel habitats in NSW. Supported by the Trusts, this strategy is part of a 20-year plan to restore unimpeded fish passage to 165 high priority weirs, improving native fish populations and recreational fishing opportunities. Mitigation options for cold water pollution from NSW storage dams are also a key focus of this strategy.

Key achievements:

  • Removal of Cookes Weir on the Richmond River (in collaboration with WaterNSW) providing native fish access to more than 250 km of upstream fish habitat
  • Commonwealth and NSW government funding committed to 43 priority fishways totalling more than $140 million
  • A Golden Perch tagged in the Darling (Baaka) River, near Wilcannia, was caught by a recreational angler on the Macintyre River, near Goondiwindi. The fish had travelled more than 1,700 km in 12 months when high flows completely submerged all weirs. Planned fish passage remediation on existing Barwon-Darling weirs, listed under the strategy, aims to permanently restore this movement.

Aquatic habitat protection and fish conservation

This program provides essential fish conservation management services for the Greater Murray (Murray, Lower Darling and Murrumbidgee catchments) and Southern (eastern draining catchments from Wollongong to Victoria) regions in NSW to enhance the protection of key fish habitats 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 Southern NSW region, assessments of more than 265 development proposals with potential adverse impacts on key fish habitat were undertaken, ensuring no net loss of fish habitats from development activity. In the Greater Murray Region, more than 230 development proposals were assessed
  • Negotiation of four projects to offset unavoidable loss of habitat from regionally significant infrastructure projects, achieving rehabilitation of more than 4.5 ha of key fish habitat
  • Representing 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
  • Inspection of developments and worksites on waterways (in collaboration with Fisheries Compliance Officers), supporting follow-up action where necessary and ensuring compliance with remediation orders to restore damaged fish habitat
  • Involvement in community and media engagements to promote fish habitat conservation including the Pollack Wetlands community day, showcase wetland rehabilitation and indigenous foods sourced from wetlands.

2021-22 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 2021-22 Annual Report