National Wetlands Update 2012
Issue No. 20, February 2012
Declared Fish Habitat Areas benefit tourists, fishers and nature lovers
Rebecca Batton and Kurt Derbyshire, Fisheries Queensland - Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation
Corio Bay declared FHA, central Queensland, is a great spot for fishing and birdwatching (Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation)
Queensland's wetland habitats support the diverse fish communities on which Queensland's fisheries rely. Fish require a mosaic of habitats for spawning, migration, feeding, growth and shelter. Maintaining a broad range of habitat types, characteristics and functions is critical to sustain fisheries productivity and provide seafood for the community.
Declared Fish Habitat Areas (FHAs) are spatially defined areas protecting key fish habitats from development impacts. Since 1969 a network of 70 declared FHAs has been implemented to protect 1 134 300 hectares of important fish habitats. The coastal and estuarine focus of the network reflects the development pressure on these habitats and their importance in supporting fisheries.
All types of fish habitats, including mangroves, sand flats, corals and seagrass beds, are equally protected by FHA declaration. Two management levels, A and B, provide flexibility for the declared FHA network. Management A protects critical fish habitats and allows only limited public development, such as community access points. More than two-thirds of the network is within Management A. Management B protects important fish habitats while allowing some additional development, such as a small boat ramp to provide access to a private property.
The fish habitats that declared FHAs protect are also important for sea turtles, dugong, dolphins and birds. In many places (such as the Noosa River everglades and Trinity Inlet in Cairns), declared FHAs provide a wilderness experience on your doorstep through opportunities such as fishing, boating and wildlife watching.
Declared FHAs allow unrestricted access for tourism, including access to recreational fishing opportunities. In fact, these marine protected areas are great places to fish because the habitats are so good. Rehabilitation, education, research and monitoring are also specifically allowed in declared FHAs. These activities can improve the quality and understanding of the area and enhance the tourism experience.
State wide map of declared Fish Habitat Area network (Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation)
The quality and integrity of declared FHAs are threatened by activities such as dumping of rubbish, off-track disturbance of intertidal habitats and by illegal structures such as informal boat ramps.
The community plays a key role in the success of the declared FHA network through its ongoing support. Communities are encouraged to make nominations of candidate areas and report illegal and other harmful activities. Fisheries Queensland works with community groups and organisations such as OceanWatch through its Tide to Table program to clean up and restore affected areas.
Strategic planning can prevent issues before a problem arises. For example, well designed and located public boat ramps suited to community demands reduce the pressure for illegal ramps.
Development is restricted by law in declared FHAs and approvals are required for works that may be permitted. The approval of structures, such as public fishing platforms and boardwalks, allows for public access while keeping the habitats in a healthy condition.
Also, future climate change and sea level rise may affect the nature, function and extent of these areas. Strategic planning and adaptation measures will be needed to deal with climate change impacts
Fisheries Queensland is implementing the Declared FHA network strategy 2009-14, including:
- investigation of potential new areas and review of existing boundaries to ensure that key fish habitats are included in the network
- an annual communications plan to promote understanding of declared FHAs
- status assessments of declared FHAs.
For further information call 13 25 23 or visit:
Osprey House boardwalk provides education and birdwatching opportunities in Hays Inlet Declared FHA, south east Queensland (Queensland Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation)