Fish habitat area selection and declaration

    Fish habitat area selection

    The department assesses candidate areas against each of the criteria below, with the overall rating providing an indicator of the area's suitability for declaration as a fish habitat area (FHA).

    Fisheries criteria

    The fisheries criteria include:

    • fish species richness
    • presence and abundance of regionally targeted species
    • level of existing fisheries within the area
    • links between the area and external or regional fisheries.

    Habitat criteria

    The habitat criteria include:

    • size
    • diversity of habitat types
    • presence of a functioning riparian buffer zone (riverbank)
    • degree of disturbance from in-stream artificial structures (e.g. jetties)
    • water quality
    • existing disturbance from water impoundment structures
    • expected future disturbance
    • compatibility with state and local government plans.

    Unique features

    These are any regionally unique fish habitat features present in the area.

    Adequate protection of fish habitats within a coastal bioregion may also be considered in selection of a declared FHA. The table below indicates the approximate area of declared FHAs within each of Queensland's eight coastal bioregions.

    Approximate area of declared FHAs within each Queensland Coastal Bioregion

    Queensland coastal bioregions

    Area of declared FHAs (ha)

    Area of proposed FHAs (ha)

    Tweed - Moreton (NSW border to Seventeen-Seventy)



    Shoalwater Coast (Seventeen-Seventy to Mackay)



    Lucinda - Mackay Coast (Mackay to Lucinda)



    Wet Tropic Coast (Lucinda to Cooktown)



    East Cape York (Cooktown to Cape York)



    West Cape York (Cape York to Aurukun)



    Karumba - Nassau (Aurukun to Burketown)



    Wellesley (Burketown-NT border)



    Total (approximate)



    Community consultation

    Extensive community and stakeholder consultation is undertaken with the proposed declaration of FHAs. The consultation occurs over one to two years, depending on the complexity of issues. Consultation follows a standardised, transparent process.

    FHA proposals generally receive broad community support, given that legal fishing continues and that boundaries to coastal development are clearly defined and established.

    Fish habitat area declaration

    Declaration of an FHA requires amendment of the Fisheries (General) Regulation 2019, approved by Governor-in-Council.

    FHA proposals and new declarations

    A proposal to extend the Cleveland Bay declared fish habitat area (Townsville), funded by the Port of Townsville Ltd, is currently being considered. An assessment of the fish habitat and fisheries values of the Cleveland Bay area will inform the proposal, in addition to targeted consultation with First Nations peoples and key stakeholders.

    Further information

    Policies and code of practice.