With 4500 new native trees planted, the installation of 25 reef balls, along with the creation of a connected floodplain wetland, Emigrant Creek in northern NSW has undergone a habitat transformation.
OzFish Unlimited, in partnership with local landholders and North Coast Local Land Services, has achieved remarkable success in restoring a 2.65km stretch of Emigrant Creek, creating a thriving habitat for native fish and other wildlife.
The two-year project funded by the Australian Government’s Fisheries Habitat Restoration program also saw an innovative pilot of concrete reef balls placed onto the riverbed.
The area lacked in-stream habitat complexity so the placement of 25 reef balls into the creek will be of critical importance to the creek corridor where freshwater mixes with salt.
It’s the first time OzFish has used a concrete reef ball structure in a freshwater environment and fishers will monitor fish use and algae growth and other organisms on the reef balls.
These actions effectively reconnected a critically important fish habitat corridor, a spawning zone for Aussie bass and linking the creek to an open freshwater wetland, which serves as a native fish nursery when the water is high.
The project also addressed the significant infestation of woody weeds, particularly camphor laurel, in a 4km stretch north of Tintenbar along the western side of Emigrant Creek.
This builds on the community’s concerted effort to restore Emigrant Creek which started five years ago and has resulted in an area that serves as a haven for many native fish, platypus and turtles.
The comprehensive restoration work has seen more than 7km of riparian zone planted and restored has been possible through a series of initiatives funded by Ballina Shire Council’s Healthy Waterways Program and Local Land Services, highlights the dedication of OzFish and its partners in transforming Emigrant Creek.
Cassie Price, OzFish Director of Habitat Programs, commended the consistent efforts, emphasising the positive impact they have had on local fish habitats.
“To have five years’ worth of in-stream and riparian habitat created along one local creek really serves to highlight the difference OzFishers and the local community can make if they look at the whole system,” she said.
“By working together and aligning our efforts, this stretch of Emigrant Creek was transformed entirely in a few short years - that's an awesome thing to witness.
“This project really highlights the diversity of restoration needed in our creeks to restore the complexities of habitat required for local fish and wildlife.
“Here we've reconnected wetlands to the creek, brought native plants back to the riverbank, added in-stream woody and rocky structures to a bare river bottom, removed invasive weeds and we're tackling pest species too. All necessary for thriving native fish populations.”
The return of platypus sightings in the area demonstrates the positive impact of the restoration efforts. However, there is a concern about the presence of carp. OzFish encourages the community to report carp sightings in Emigrant Creek, enabling targeted eradication efforts and fostering the recovery of native fish populations.
OzFish is open to suggestions from the Emigrant Creek community. Residents and anglers are encouraged to reach out to OzFish to express their views and contribute to future actions to extend the work into rebuilding Emigrant Creek as a fish habitat haven via their website.
A dropbox of images of OzFish’s restoration work at Emigrant Creek is available here:
If you would like to know more about the project or get involved become a member of OzFish at www.ozfish.org.au or phone 1800 431 308.
OzFish Unlimited is a national environmental conservation charity established to improve the health of our rivers, lakes and estuaries. It is a member-based organisation dedicated to make our fishing grounds healthy, vibrant and more productive. Their active work includes; habitat restoration such as resnagging, riverbank planting, clean-ups, fishways, shellfish reefs and educational and community capacity building programs.
If you would like further information about the project or to interview Cassie Price, please contact OzFish Unlimited Communications Manager Paul Suttor
0421 491 229 | email@example.com