Rock fillets will grow fish fillets

IN A first for recreational anglers in New South Wales, three artifical reefs have been installed in the Bellinger River to create a fishing hotspot that you can cast a line over from the riverbank.

Cast concrete modules have been installed near Mylestom this week as the final stage of a joint project to stabilise eroded sections of the lower Bellinger River.

Department of Primary Industries and North Coast Local Lands Services have worked in partnership with Bellingen Shire Council on the shoreline stabilisation and rehabilitation project named Rock Fillets for Fish Fillets.

"This is a great initiative for the North Coast. It's not only improving the stability of the riverbank, but also providing a new opportunity for fishers to land a catch," Member for Oxley and Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said.

"These reefs will be the first that can be accessed from land in New South Wales. They are within casting distance from the riverbank - so they are set to lure fish, fishers and tourists."

The three reefs consist of 153 reef ball concrete modules that have been designed to create new fish habitat for a wide range of fish and acquatic species including yellowfin bream, flathead and even mangrove jack.

The cost of the reefs totals $125,000 and has been funded by money raised through recreational fishing licences.

North Coast Local Land Services has sunk $150,000 and the Recreational Fishing Trust's Habitat Action Grants Program $40,000 into stablising more than 500m of sensitive riverbank with an innovative type of rock and log fillet to stop bank erosion and the growth of mangroves.

In the next two years, the state will have three offshore artificial reefs as well as six concrete artificial reefs in estuarine locations.

Reefs are proving popular with anglers off Sydney's South Head and off Shoalhaven Heads while an offshore artificial reef is planned for the Port Macquarie area.

Five estuarine concrete artificial reefs are in place at Lake Macquarie, Botany Bay, St Georges Basin, Lake Conjola and Merimbula Lake.

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