The NSW Recreational Fishing Licence was introduced on 23rd March 2001. The funds generated by the licence are held in a Trust and used to improve recreational fishing in the state via a number of targeted programs including fish habitat restoration. One of the success stories of the NSW Recreational Fishing Trust has been the Habitat Action Grant (HAG) Program that directs funds to onground works via a devolved grant process. Since the HAG Program began in 2003, over $850,000 has been used to leverage 40 road crossing and weir fish passage remediation projects valued at $7.1M. Importantly, native fish access was improved to over 2,000 km of waterway.
Despite the success of the program, Trust funding for individual HAG projects is capped at $40,000 per year and is primarily directed towards smaller projects involving on-ground works. Such funding is often not enough to tackle larger, more complex projects. Recently, the Trust approved a larger scale version of the HAGs called the Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grant for which projects are able to apply for up to $400,000. The Flagship program has allowed for higher priority fish passage programs to be discussed and initiated that otherwise would have been delayed indefinitely. The Flagship program also value-adds to the existing HAG program, achieving a more holistic outcome for fish passage as will be discussed in one northern NSW catchment.
This talk will detail the outcomes achieved by the HAG program and lessons learned along the way. The NSW Recreational Fishing Trust’s Habitat Action Grant Program and Flagship Fish Habitat Rehabilitation Grants are an excellent example of the NSW licence fee being directed back into the fishery to provide long term, permanent improvements to the waterways of NSW.