The NSW Fish Habitat Partnership Fish Habitat Awards were presented to organisations, groups or individuals that have achieved significant outcomes for the betterment of fish habitat in NSW through:
- Demonstrated leadership in, and commitment to, sustained or significant on-ground rehabilitation actions to improve the state of fish habitat in NSW; and/or
- Actively facilitated and promoted industry or community participation that has resulted in increased support, resourcing and/or understanding of the importance of fish habitat in NSW.
Eight high quality nominations were received, with Awards presented in the following categories:
- Fish Habitat Champion – Organisation – Inland Waterways Volunteer Committee
- Fish Habitat Runner Up – Organisation – Little River Landcare
- Fish Habitat Champion – Individual – Ross Webster, Yass River Landcare
- Fish Habitat Runner Up – Individual – Alan Izzard, Bass Sydney
- Highly Commended – Collaboration – Murray Local Land Services
- Highly Commended – Innovation – Shoalhaven Riverwatch
Awards were presented to the outstanding winners as part of the 2017 NSW Landcare Awards evening, held in conjunction with the Landcare conference in Albury NSW in October 2017.
All the excitement on the night!
Inland Waterways Volunteer Committee – Fish Habitat Champion (Organisation)
The Inland Waterways volunteer committee started off in 2009 as a small grass roots group of local fishers, who put together a raffle to “raise some money to improve the local river”. Today, the group undertakes major fish habitat replenishment projects, has installed hundreds of large snags to form breeding sites and habitat for native fish, and has purchased a River Repair Bus that sees work for the dole participants plant thousands of native trees and remove countless tonnes of rubbish from the waterways.
To raise funds, the Inland Waterways volunteer committee has run the catch and release Lake Burrendong Fishing Classic for the past nine years, which has generated hundreds of thousands of dollars to improve river health in central NSW. The event is a platform to engage with recreational fishers in their thousands, and to pass on messages of sustainable fishing, best fishing practices, and the importance of healthy fish habitat. Inland Waterways puts 100% of proceeds back into making healthy waterways through both large scale habitat and education initiatives.
You can view their acceptance speech by following this link: IWRA acceptance speech.
Little River Landcare – Fish Habitat Runner Up (Organisation)
A survey revealed that there was a remnant population of the small-bodied endangered fish species, the Southern Purple Spotted Gudgeon (PSG) in the Little River Catchment.
The “Protecting the Purple Patch” project targeted the preferred habitat of the gudgeons and protected and enhanced those areas to ensure the risk of degradation was reduced, habitat area was increased and it ensured the ongoing viability of the remnant population. The “Protecting the Purple Patch” project implemented a suite of rehabilitation activities in order to repair and restore degraded stream reaches and link and protect areas of aquatic habitat that remained in good condition to benefit the endangered PSG. Works included 88kms of creek system mapped, 12 large snags were positioned, 6kms of fencing, positively engaged landholders and 2000 tube stock were planted in the project sites to further augment PSG habitat.
Ross Webster, Yass River Landcare– Fish Habitat Champion (Individual)
Ross Webster has been a champion of the Yass River and its fish habitat for more than two decades.
He has worked with outstanding commitment and energy to improve fish habitat in the Yass River in collaboration not only with Yass Landcare Group, but also Yass Valley Council, Yass Soldiers Club Fishing Club, Greening Australia and the Yass Acclimatisation Society. Ross has galvanised these organisations to restore the Yass River. Now retired, Ross devotes the greater part of his energy to improving the environment in the Yass District, with a principal focus on fish habitat.
Alan Izzard, Bass Sydney – Fish Habitat Runner Up (Individual)
Alan Izzard joined Bass Sydney Fishing Club in 2002 with an interest to learn about Bass fishing.
He took up the position of Secretary shortly after, then President later. Alan then served three terms as President. He has taken to heart the strong belief of the Bass Sydney club, that the Australian Bass will only thrive if they have access to waterways with a riparian zone that supports them, and that a healthy river is far better than restocking. He has demonstrated a continual commitment to this ideal, principally by leading the ongoing effort to rehabilitate a site at Russell St. in Emu Plains on the Nepean River. Alan continues to lead the project that he has been involved with since 2011, and has been involved in further spreading the message by speaking at other landcare groups and being involved in other landcare projects.
Murray Local Land Services– Highly Commended (Collaboration)
Murray LLS’s Small-bodied Native Fish (SBNF) project aims to increase the viability of threatened SBNF populations in the region by rehabilitating priority habitat areas, reducing impacts from key threats, and raising awareness of this fish guild and their habitat and management needs. The project is a partnership with NSW DPI Fisheries, Office of Environment and Heritage, Holbrook Landcare Network, Private Forestry Land holders, local landholders, community members and schools.
The SBNF project has been extremely effective at addressing key habitat issues for SPP, resulting in the two populations that were almost lost in 2010 surviving, breeding and increasing in size. There are additional habitat areas for fish to colonise and new nursery sites for future breeding. Community and industry awareness of SBNF has dramatically improved, as has support for their conservation.
Shoalhaven Riverwatch– Highly Commended (Innovation)
Shoalhaven Riverwatch have been active for over 20 years implementing works to stabilise the banks of the lower Shoalhaven River around Nowra. Most recently, it has designed and fine-tuned an innovative approach to stabilising vulnerable riverbank sites by protecting the inter-tidal zone. The Shoalhaven Sand Sausage creates one long continuous sandbag using a unique removable frame, a role of geotextile fabric and volunteers with shovels. In implementing this new technique, Riverwatch has been successful in recruiting a new team of enthusiastic volunteers accepting this opportunity to deliver back to the community in a dynamic setting and organisation. This has also allowed a recommitment to replanting of bank stabilising species to be completed as part of the package.
Complementing the on-ground works, a combination of recruitment, equipment upgrading, communication and promotional activities has rejuvenated Shoalhaven Riverwatch and pushed forward a community-driven program of bank stabilisation not reliant on government funding.