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Partnership aims to improve fisheries in NSW

IN a world first, a diverse group of organisations with an interest in the long-term future of fishing in NSW has come together for one purpose: to help create more fish through improving the health of fish habitat.

“‘Working together for healthy fish habitat” is the vision of the NSW Fish Habitat Partnership, formally launched today.

“We are united by our common interest in looking after and improving the ecosystems that support the fish”, said Mr Mark Bulley, Independent Chair of the Partnership.

The NSW Fish Habitat Partnership is made up of recreational, commercial and indigenous fishing organisations, the oyster industry, conservation groups and NGOs, the tackle trade, fishing co-ops and farming groups who all agreed to support the initiative.

“I’m personally very pleased to have the opportunity to work together with the Partnership organisations”, Mr Bulley said.

The founding members of the NSW Fish Habitat Partnership are:

Australian Fishing Trade Association; Australian National Sportsfishing Association; Nature Conservation Council of NSW; NSW Aboriginal Land Council; NSW Council of Freshwater Anglers; NSW Farmers; OceanWatch; Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW; Professional Fishermen’s Association; Sea Life Conservation Fund; Sydney Fish Markets.

“It’s a significant step forward because, while each sector has its own challenges, we are clear in our agreement about the critical importance of habitat for the future productivity of fisheries,” he said.

“We will be actively encouraging activities that protect, restore and enhance the state’s fisheries via the better management of fish habitat,” Mr Bulley said.

Through these activities, the NSW Fish Habitat Partnership expects to achieve sustainable environmental, economic and social benefits for the people of NSW.

Mr Bulley said, “The key species important to fishers in NSW are dependent on the habitat available to them. It needs to be there and it needs to be healthy and that also applies to fish not targeted by fishers.”

The decline in the abundance and quality of habitat in NSW over the last 200 years is well documented, and the links between poor habitat and water quality and reduced fisheries production are well established.

He stated that “Historical degradation of habitat quality has had a very significant impact on the numbers of fish, the resilience of fish communities and the sustainability of oyster production. Habitat protection and rehabilitation are actions that can realistically increase the abundance and resilience of all species.”

“This Partnership is the result of many years of individual efforts by key bodies and organisations to improve aquatic habitat in NSW” said Mr Bulley.

The NSW Fish Habitat Partnership will pursue four fundamental strategies:

  • Identify strategic and specific ways to improve fish habitat condition.
  • Mobilise and focus national, state and local support for achieving fish habitat management goals in NSW.
  • Measure and communicate the status of fish habitats and what fish need in terms of habitat.
  • Build strong grassroots support among its constituents to raise the profile of fish habitat conservation in the public arena and enlist contributions from the private sector.

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