FINAL public comment is being sought on streamlined policies and guidelines aimed at maintaining and enhancing fish habitat for the benefit of native fish species in NSW.
Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Director Aquaculture and Aquatic Environment Bill Talbot said a 12 month public consultation period and call for submissions on the updated document Policy and guidelines for fish habitat conservation and management (2013) will close on 30 June.
“Healthy fish habitats underpin the productivity of our State’s fisheries resources,” Mr Talbot said.
“It is vital that government, industry and community work together to protect and restore key fish habitats in order to sustain our fisheries in the long-term.”
Mr Talbot said fish habitat protection and management are now subject to less red tape under this updated policy and guidelines document.
“It consolidates and replaces two former policy documents addressing fish habitat and fish passage and two Fish Habitat Protection Plans gazetted under the Fisheries Management Act 1994 in the late 1990s,” he said.
“The new document aims to help people step through the legislation, policies and guidelines as they relate to fish habitat protection, and to simplify the process of compliance with aquatic habitat protection legislation.
“It provides useful information for 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 or managed.”
Mr Talbot said key initiatives include the adoption of a new practical definition of ‘key fish habitats’ that these policies and guidelines will apply to.
“The previous versions applied to all waterways in NSW, regardless of their value as fish habitat,” he said.
"This new definition makes it easier for individuals and farmers wanting to undertake works in gullies or modified waterways, such as canal estates and agricultural and irrigation areas, as these waterways are not captured by this new definition.
“This reduces red tape and makes it easier for developers, industry, government and non-government organisations and the community to understand and comply with fish habitat protection requirements through one document.”
DPI consulted other relevant state agencies and the Nature Conservation Council of NSW during the development of this document. Submission can be made at www.fisheries.nsw.gov.au