OzFish Cairns Chapter

The Cairns OzFish Chapter was established in 2018 by a group existing OzFish members and passionate fishos. They joined forces with Cairns City Council, Treeforce and other members of the local community to organise a tilapia busting and litter clean-up event on Lily Creek.

Over the past two years, the Chapter has been working closely with Council and Dr Geoff Collins, Project Manager for OzFish. They’ve been going from strength to strength in their efforts to ensure healthy habitat for fishing future.

The Cairns Chapter is established on the lands of the Dawul Wuru,
Djabugay, Gunggandji and Yidinji people.

 Become a member of a proud recreational fishing community that is making a real difference to the future of fishing in Australia


Every new member will receive a welcome pack which includes an OzFish cap, sticker, facemasks and a $10 BCF Gift Card courtesy of our major partner.

Cairns Chapter Members

Regional Queensland has some of the highest per capita rates of recreational fishing in Australia.  There is an estimated 30-35% of residents participating in recreational fishing in far north Queensland. So the odds that you are going to meet some fishos with a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors at these meet up is high.

Not only do they love to fish, but the members of the Cairns Chapter are also known to be active stewards of the local waterways. At this stage, members are busy working to develop a pilot waterway management plan for the Saltwater Creek catchment with the hope to apply this concept across the entire local council area.

The Chapter is also involved in the planning and implementation of the Cairns Recreational Fishing Strategy, which sets a framework for the sustainable development of recreational fishing in the region.

Cairns Chapter will be holding Citizen Science Fish Surveys and need recreational fishers to help. The first surveys will be taking place in August, date to be confirmed.


Saltwater Creek Fish Surveys

OzFish are organising a series of baseline fish surveys for the Saltwater Creek catchment and a general habitat assessment. Volunteers are needed to help set up and pull in nets to count fish captured, scribing data, recording fish measurements and reviewing and recording habitat concerns in urban waters. This will be done in the low lying areas of the Saltwater Creek catchment.

The data collected from these surveys will then be presented to the technical working group at a stakeholder workshop and will inform actions to improve urban waterways and urban water management. The project aims to improve conditions for fish and to provide recommendations for improving waterway management in urban waterways of Australia’s tropics.


Cairns An Anglers Paradise

Cairns is an angler’s paradise and has always held high appeal to anglers worldwide. There aren’t many urban areas in the world which can offer such a diverse range of fishing options in such close proximity to the city centre.

In the freshwater, rec fishers are targeting Jungle Perch and Sooty Grunter. Along the estuaries, you will find good runs of Barramundi, Mangrove Jack, Threadfin Salmon and Grunter.

Further out in the open water, fishers are hooking pelagic species such as Spanish Mackerel, Tuna, Marlin, Giant Trevally, Wahoo and Mahi Mahi.

Reef species like Coral Trout, Red Emperor, Nannygai, Sweetlip and Fingermark are all frequently caught in this area.

Lilly Creek, Cairns – OzFish FNQ / BCF / James Cook Uni

Our OzFish FNQ Chapter wanted to know just what fish were inhabiting Lilly Creek running through the centre of their great city… you might be surprised what they found!! Stay tuned… this afternoon all will be revealed! Get involved with the Chapter's Lilly Creek Fish Habitat Day (Sat 13th Oct!) More Info.. email ozfishfnq@gmail.com >> Video: James Cook University elecrofishing Lilly Creek to discover its fishy secrets! Thanks to Chapter executive member Dan Easton for the fantastic footage!! <<

Posted by OzFish Unlimited on Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Fish Habitat Concerns

For many, Cairns is their idea of paradise, but it is not without its hurdles. Some of the main concerns rec fishers have in this area are:

  • Riparian corridors are often in a state of degradation in low-lying coastal areas. The Chapter has partnered up with other groups to improve riparian vegetation. This will have multiple benefits to fish such as shading, habitat structure, buffer for nutrients and sediment.
  • There are literally thousands of barriers to fish passage on the east coast of Queensland. The Chapter is committed to identifying and remediating these barriers to increase the amount of available habitat for fish, particularly those that move between fresh and saltwater environments.
  • Cairns is one of three net-free areas in Queensland and this has resulted in improved fishing.  To complement the gains undertaken in the establishment of the net-free zone, habitat improvement initiatives here are required to further enhance these environments for better habitat and better fishing.
  • Overall, ensuring that urban and rural waterways are as healthy as they can be for fish habitat is the guiding foundation of our work.

Get Involved

There are many different ways that fish habitat can be improved and many opportunities available for people to help us. Projects that people can get involved in include:

  • Improving riparian vegetation and re-snagging local waterways
  • Surveys of fish and habitat condition
  • Habitat mapping and assessment
  • Fishing and pest species busting competitions
  • Managing fringing weeds on creeks
  • Monitoring of habitat improvement projects
  • Restoring seagrass and mangrove habitats
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Coral reef restoration




We are growing our membership base in the tropical north and engaging with others who are interested in the work we do.
With more people involved, we can create better fish habitat which will improve opportunities for all recreational fishers in Far North Queensland.

Latest News

Get up to date on what is going on in Mourilyan Harbour

Mourilyan Harbour, an estuary just south of Cairns, has been a focus site for scientists and OzFish volunteers over the last few months. Here, the objective has been to bring back

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Citizen Scientists And Researchers Check Fish Populations In The Saltwater Creek Catchment

A  team of  recreational fishers and researchers spent two days collecting baseline data on fish populations in the Saltwater Creek catchment to help understand our fish and environmental impacts. Recreational fishers put their castnetting skills to good use to monitor fish in Saltwater Creek. Saltwater Creek and other small coastal catchments in Cairns contain some of the highest diversity of native fish found in urban waters in Australia. The project team sampled eight sites across the catchment, including saltwater and freshwater environments.

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2020 - Seagrass restoration trial started at Mourilyan Harbour

A pilot project to restore seagrass meadows at Mourilyan Harbour, south-east of Innisfail, has started with input from local recreational anglers and university researchers. The trial will assess the success of a unique seagrass restoration technique deploying seagrass fragments (sprigs) attached to mesh frames into a designated section of the harbour. The work is a collaboration between James Cook University’s Seagrass Ecology Group and Australia’s fishing conservation charity OzFish Unlimited. OzFish Senior Project Manager, Dr Geoffrey Collins said the work was an important step toward restoring seagrass meadows.

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2019 - OzFish Lend A Hand At Tree Planting Day

OzFish Unlimited were thrilled to support Mulgrave Landcare and Catchment Group’s tree planting event over the weekend. The day was a huge success, with 1500 trees planted by 52 volunteers to protect the banks of McDonnell Creek from erosion, and improve water quality entering the Fig Tree Lagoons and Mulgrave River, FNQ. The event was well attended, with representation from Traditional Landowners, Landholders, local family groups and school children from 4 local schools, all lending a hand on the day. A big thanks to our Major Partner BCF- Boating, Camping, Fishing who also supported the day, gifting lucky winners with rods, eskies and chairs. Well done to the organisers on such a successful event. Want to get involved?

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2018 - Tilapia Busting And Litter Clean-Up Event Along Lily Creek

2018 - Tilapia Busting And Litter Clean-Up Event Along Lily Creek

In 2018, OzFish Cairns organised a tilapia eradication and litter clean-up event along Lily Creek. These Tilapia busters are always very popular across the country. It is a fantastic way to get members hands-on in a project and it also helps native fish populations get ahead against these pest species. Also held at Lily Creek, OzFish Cairns worked with Dr Brendan Ebner from James Cook University to complete a fish survey and to conduct public education and awareness on fish diversity and fish habitat issues for the wet tropics.

Continue the conversation with the OzFish Cairns Chapter by following their Facebook page and tagging @OzFishCairns