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Critically endangered native crayfish offered a lifeline

An exciting and much-needed initiative has just commenced on the NSW Southern Highlands to extend a helping hand, or claw, to one of Australia’s most threatened aquatic species.

South East Local Land Services and NSW Department of Primary Industries Fisheries, with support from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, have joined forces to work toward securing the future of a critically endangered native spiny crayfish.

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is naturally very rare, having been identified as only occurring within a 12km stretch of creek in the Southern Highlands.

Local Lands Services Officer Felicity Sturgiss says that while these enigmatic creatures are critically endangered, we now have the resources and the knowledge to properly invest in improving their habitat and improving farm infrastructure along with it.

“This is a win/win for land managers and the crays, and comes at an important time.” Felicity said.

“Recent surveys found that these crayfish seem to have drastically declined in numbers, likely due to the current dry conditions, however the cumulative impacts of predation by carp and yabbies, trampling by livestock and the loss of cooling vegetation on the water’s edge have made it very hard for them to get through stressful events like drought.”

The new 12 month project is now underway and the community is invited to get on board and learn more about this ancient crustacean and others like it.

Significant support is now available to land managers with property adjacent to key habitat. Funding for important farm infrastructure such as riparian fencing to exclude stock from the waterways and the installation of off-stream watering systems will provide much cleaner and more accessible water for livestock, as well as protecting the creek from trampling.

Planting some tough local species along the creekline will encourage bank stability, keep the aquatic food-web cycling and improve water quality to support the crays. This is a big opportunity to work with Local Land Services to be a key part of securing the future of this unique spiny cray.

A raft of other exciting activities are proposed that the broader community can get involved in to show their support for this rare and intriguing species - an icon of the Southern Highlands area. These include public artwork, school visits, public talks and information days to share knowledge with the local community.

A great place to find out more about spiny crayfish is on Rob McCormacks site: and at the Department of Primary industries

The project will undertake essential new surveys and research so the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish will keep its place as a keystone species of the Southern Highlands region.

To find out more:

Contact or 0427 072 763 to organise a visit or just have a chat. Felicity and DPI Fisheries Conservation Officer, Erin Lake will be at the Robertson markets on Sunday December 9 and at an upcoming event in Burrawang if you want to come and chat in person.


Media contact: Dave Michael, South East Local Land Services, 0418 513 880