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Improving fish habitats for Saltwater Creek, Cairns

OzFish Unlimited 3 mins read
OzFish Cairns is restoring Saltwater and Lilly Creeks in urban Cairns to aid in fish passage and breeding

The Cairns Chapter of OzFish Unlimited will receive $1.5 million in funding from the Australian Government’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program.

The funding will allow the members of the Cairns Chapter of OzFish Unlimited to undertake habitat restoration and improve wetland connectivity in the Saltwater and Lilly Creek catchments in partnership with local recreational fishers, the Cairns Regional Council, traditional owners Gimuy Walubara Yidinji and other community partners.

OzFish Cairns Chapter president and project manager Phil Laycock said, “Urban catchments like Saltwater and Lilly Creek are under pressure from the effects of development and urban runoff, however they play an important role in supporting the life cycles of the fish recreational fishers love to catch.”

Fish surveys in Saltwater Creek conducted by OzFish have shown this waterway is an important nursery habitat for Mangrove Jack, Barramundi, Jungle Perch, Prawns and many other baitfish and native fish species that are so important in the food chain.

OzFish Cairns Chapter president and project manager Phil Laycock said, “There are some great opportunities to restore habitat and remove barriers to fish migration particularly in the mid and upper sections of Saltwater and Lilly Creeks that will boost the waterway’s ability to support those juvenile Mangrove Jacks, Barramundi and the diversity of native species that still call the waterways home”.

The funding will allow OzFish to do this by:

1. The removal/modification of at least two fish barriers

2.The restoration of fish habitat along sections of the main waterway totalling 600 metres

3.Implement aquatic weed control and riparian revegetation along at least 1.5 kilometres of waterways.

Gimuy Walubara Yidinji Traditional Owner and ranger Jiritju Fourmile said “these waterways are important places to us and our culture” “we are pleased to be working in partnership with OzFish to care for this country. Being part of this project helps us connect with and protect our culture as well as improving fish habitat for future generations”.

Recreational fishers and community members who would like to be part of the team working on this habitat restoration can join OzFish by going to the website OzFish Membership | OzFish Unlimited and signing up or by contacting Phil

This project is funded by the Australian Government’s Urban Rivers and Catchments Program. The Minister responsible for the program, the Hon Tanya Pliberseck, Minister for Environment and Water, congratulates OzFish and the Cairns community for their actions to care for this waterway and wishes them well with the next steps of the project.


More photos available on request.

Additional partner quote:

Councillor Anna Middleton (Div 7 Cairns)

Cr Anna Middleton said “Cairns Regional Council is proud to be a partner with OzFish and the Gimuy Walubara Yidinji traditional owners in this project. Urban rivers and catchments are a vital part of Australia's ecosystem. They function as important green and blue spaces supporting biodiversity, cultural and community values. Healthy urban catchments play an important role supporting fish lifecycles and improving water quality leaving our coastal catchments and entering the Great Barrier Reef.”

Key Facts:

$1.5million in funding to restore Saltwater and Lilly Creek catchments in urban Cairns

OzFish is calling on recreational fishers and community members to join the restoration efforts

About us:

About OzFish


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.

Contact details:

Phil Laycock Project Manager - OzFish Cairns
M: 0439 252 828 | E: 

Caitlin Berecry Social Media and Content Manager
M: 0448 200 822  | E: 


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