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Holy Catfish!

North Coast Local Land Services, on behalf of two landholders, successfully applied for funding under the NSW Fisheries 2017 Habitat Action Grants. The project will assist addressing riverbank erosion management issues along the Wilson River in the Hastings Catchment.

The Habitat Action Grant program is designed to assist recreational anglers, local councils, environmental and community groups and private landholders to enhance and rehabilitate degraded recreational fish habitat through a range of on-ground works.

Rehabilitation of fish habitat provides long-term sustainable benefits for native fish stocks and in turn provides substantial benefits for NSW recreational fishers who will enjoy more healthy productive fisheries. Improvements in fish habitat will also provide more opportunities for rural and regional communities to promote local tourism.

The Wilson River has a history of major river bed and river bank erosion. Factors contributing to the erosion in this system include historical gravel extraction, clearing of native vegetation, landuse change, flooding and inappropriate riparian use and management.

Despite this, the Wilson River has high biotic and habitat value and has been documented as having the highest fish diversity and aquatic condition of 80 NSW rivers. The Wilson River also scored comparatively well for fish assessments in the Ecohealth Scorecard for the Hastings Catchment 2012.

Working in close cooperation with the two landholders, the project will remediate 500 metres of bank erosion at the two selected sites.

At one site there have been more than 10 catfish nests observed in the river in the two years the landholder has owned the property.

At the other site there is severe erosion along a 500 metre stretch threatening over 80 hectares of otherwise very healthy grazing flats. This site will consume much of the allocated funding to construct eight large woody debris deflection structures.

Geoff LeMessurier from North Coast Local Land Services said, “Gaining landholder cooperation and support has been critical in this process and they have given their ongoing commitment to maintain the sites, including fencing and groundcover planting.

“The ultimate benefit of the Holy Catfish project will be the protection of fish habitats both upstream and downstream of these two locations and habitat diversity for this section of the Wilson River.”

Media contact:

Geoff LeMessurier, Senior Land Services Officer, Phone 6563 6717

Photo captions:

1 and 2. Part of the Wilson River bank to be rehabilitated.