Fish Habitat Area (FHA) Selection and Assessment
Description and method logic
The FHA system is designed to investigate the most valuable, pristine and productive habitats for FHAs through a strategic planning process. The declared Fish Habitat Area (FHA) program aims to ensure that Queensland's extensive fish (including crustacean and mollusc) habitats remain healthy and productive and support Queensland’s commercial, recreational and indigenous fisheries.
The declared FHA selection approach is based on the use of fish habitat and fisheries indicators, in combination with the strategic planning objectives to ensure that all habitat types are adequately represented within the regional declared FHA network. This approach combines traditional aquatic protected area assessment criteria such as comprehensiveness, adequacy and representativeness with fisheries specific assessment criteria such as the value of an area to the productivity and long-term sustainability of fish stocks, fishing values and fishing opportunities.
For a candidate inshore/estuarine area to be considered as a potential declared FHA for consultation, it should satisfy the following assessment criteria:
The assessment framework requires the collection of detailed information to assess the site against the FHA selection criteria. The criteria are based on fish habitat, fisheries indicators and strategic planning. The selection criteria have only been developed for inshore and estuarine habitats.
Each criterion has suitability for FHA standards. For example, the size criteria standard for FHA 'A' is greater than 500ha, for FHA 'B' it is greater than 100 ha. The framework also sets out how many/which criteria should be met for the area to be considered for nomination.
A stakeholder consultation process is required for any proposed FHA declaration.
Criteria groupings of the method
The FHA system uses traditional Aquatic Protected Area selection criteria - comprehensive, adequate and representative (CAR), fisheries specific criteria such as value of an area to the productivity of fish stocks, and future management implications.
Fish species richness, benchmark fish species inventories, targeted species presence, existing and historical fishing activities (e.g. using fish catch data), information on adjacent fisheries, life cycles and habitat requirements of species in adjacent fisheries, habitat type and extent, condition of riparian buffer zone, location of in stream structures, water quality data, location of water impoundment structures, existing and proposed major developments, local government planning schemes, Regional coastal management plans, other strategic planning strategies, unique features.
Fisheries experts, water quality experts, GIS capability, access to existing data, field assessments as required.
A database platform for data storage, manipulation and values assessment, a Geographic Information System (GIS) platform for result presentation and interpretation.
Published Fisheries Resource Assessment Report that defines the fisheries and habitat values of the area, the existing and potential impacts to the habitats and how the area meets the selection criteria.
Criteria by category
Physical and chemical
Management and planning
Government agencies, natural resource managers.
Last updated: 7 February 2019
This page should be cited as:
Department of Environment and Science, Queensland (2019) Fish Habitat Area (FHA) Selection and Assessment, WetlandInfo website, accessed 1 February 2023. Available at: https://wetlandinfo.des.qld.gov.au/wetlands/resources/tools/assessment-search-tool/fish-habitat-area-fha-selection-and-assessment/