Anglers, fishing clubs, local councils or community groups with an idea to enhance or rehabilitate fish habitat could soon receive their share of well over half a million dollars in NSW Government funding. The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) will open applications for the 2018 Habitat Action Grants program on Monday 6 August, which will see grants of up to $40,000 awarded per project. DPI Fisheries Manager Scott Nichols said the program provides a great opportunity to improve local creeks, rivers, estuaries or surrounding areas to promote healthy waterways and to make more fish, naturally. “The 2017 program saw more than $644,000 in funding awarded for 29 fish habitat rehabilitation projects across the state,” he said. “Projects included everything from managing stock access to waterways and revegetating these areas with native plants, to reintroducing lost woody habitat into rivers and estuaries for fish. “We also saw projects that undertook erosion control activities to reduce sediment inputs into our rivers and streams, and better managed wetland habitats. “Together these habitat improvements create and support increased fish numbers.” Allan Izzard from Bass Sydney Fishing Club said the grant received by the club in 2017 would allow them to continue their rehabilitation work on the Nepean riverbank at Emu Plains, something they have been working on since 2011. “This ensures the native flora continues to develop and provide a more sustainable environment for our much-loved native fish,” he said. DPI is seeking applications for similar projects for 2018 for works that will restore or stabilise eroded river banks, remove barriers to fish movement by improving road crossings or weirs or other fish habitat improvements. “Since 2009, the Recreational Fishing Trusts have invested more than $5 million into the Habitat Action Grants program, seeing significant improvement to fish habitats in our waterways,” Mr Nichols said. “These works assist our recreational fishers through the provision of long-term sustainable benefits and more productive fisheries. Mr Nichols said applications for Habitat Action Grants are open from 6 August until 21 September 2018 – a timely window providing opportunity for them to be discussed during the two-day DPI Fishers For Fish Habitat forum will be held at the end of the month in Ballina. “In addition to a range of great speakers on a number of topics including from fishers undertaking their own Habitat Action Grants, we’re also pleased to announce Anna Clark – keen fisher, author and researcher – as the guest speaker at our Day 1 dinner event,” he said. “This will provide forum-goers a great opportunity to mingle with fellow guests, share stories and develop ideas on how they can work together to improve fish habitat.” For more information about the Habitat Action Grants program or the Fishers For Fish Habitat forum, visit the DPI website or contact a Department of Primary Industries Fisheries Manager on (02) 6626 1396 (coastal) or (02) 6881 1216 (inland).