Protection and management

Queensland’s declared Fish Habitat Area (FHA) network provides long-term protection for fish habitats that are essential to sustaining our fisheries. The network celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019.

Fish Habitat Areas (FHA) are areas protected from physical disturbance associated with coastal development and declared under Queensland's Fisheries Act 1994. They are part of Australia's Nationally Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, and fit within the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Protected Area Management Category VI - 'Managed Resource Protected Area'.

Declared fish habitat areas are important to fisheries

Declaration of FHAs aims to ensure fishing for the future by protecting selected inshore and estuarine fish habitats to sustain local and regional fisheries.

All habitat types (e.g. vegetation, sand bars and rocky headlands) within a declared FHA are equally protected from direct physical disturbance and coastal development.

Locations of declared fish habitat areas

There are 72 declared FHAs along the Queensland coast that protect more than 1.2 million ha of high-quality fish habitats. Information signs showing FHA coverage have been placed in a number of declared FHAs.

Gazetted plans showing the locations of declared FHAs in Queensland are available online and Geographic Information System (GIS) coverage of the declared FHA network is available from the Queensland Spatial Catalogue by searching for ‘fish habitat areas’.

Authorisation of development

Development works in declared FHAs require application for a resource allocation authority under the Fisheries Act 1994 and a development approval under the Planning Act 2016, unless the works comply with accepted development requirements (PDF, 310.3KB) .

Development applications are assessed against the State Development Assessment Provisions (SDAP). A guideline (PDF, 411.0KB) explains the context of the SDAP performance outcomes and how to comply with these outcomes for declared FHAs. Development assessment in declared FHAs is provided by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries on behalf of the department.

Please note: While the SDAP guideline refers to the Fisheries Regulation 2008, this was replaced by the Fisheries (General) Regulation 2019 on 1 September 2019. This resulted in changes to the structure of the legislation (including section numbers) and some minor wording changes to the declared FHA provisions. There was no change to the intent of the legislation for declared FHAs. A review of the SDAP guideline is currently underway, which will include updating references to the new fisheries legislation and its provisions. The SDAP guideline will be replaced with a revised version once completed. Until then, the existing SDAP guideline continues to apply.

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