Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is not likely to be funded?

A: The scope of projects under the Fish Habitat Improvement Fund is broad with an emphasis on achieving tangible outcomes on the ground, or in the water, that will make a material and lasting contribution to recreational fisheries. To retain a focus on these objectives, the following items are unlikely to be funded:

  • Major fish passage construction projects, for example vertical-slot fishways or largescale rock-ramp fishways.
  • Research, investigations and engineering design-only projects
  • Purchasing of environmental water or payment of water extraction licence fees.
  • Fishing competitions or other public events (except when they are a legitimate part of celebrating the success of a project, e.g. tree-planting days).
  • Infrastructure or equipment upgrades to club rooms (including computers or audio-visual technology, trailers, boats or catering equipment), access facilities or other fishing infrastructure (e.g. boat ramps).
  • Fish stocking, translocation and/or captive breeding proposals.

If you are unsure if your proposal is eligible, please contact us to discuss it further - we’d love to hear from you!

Q. My project is for an estuary or marine environment.  How do I proceed?

A: Projects in estuarine and marine environments are eligible under this fund.  However, it is important to note that all use, development and works on marine and coastal Crown land by any party, including committees of management and local government, require consent under the Marine and Coastal Act 2018 from the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA).  You may also require a permit from Parks Victoria.

Please see the following detailed fact sheet on obtaining approvals for works under the Marine and Coastal Act: Fact Sheet: Use and development on marine and coastal crown land

Prior to submitting your application, you must first speak to your local DEECA office regarding the process for gaining formal consent for your project. DEECA regional offices that manage coastal areas can be contacted via:

Alternatively, contact DEECA’s customer service centre on 136 186 between 8am - 6pm, or email:

You must also consult with the relevant local Government and determine if the proposed activity also requires a planning permit.

It is recommended that you also consult with your local Catchment Management Authority, particularly in estuarine environments, as there may already be processes or approvals in place for certain activities. CMA’s may also be able to provide useful information to support your application.

Owing to the possibly lengthy process of gaining consent for projects in the marine environment, if you can demonstrate in-principle support for your project from both DEECA and local Government then your project may be deferred to a two-part approval and delivery process:

  1. VFA Project approval and release of up to 20% of you project budget for working capital to commence the formal approvals process(es). Your project will also be allocated an additional 6 months delivery timeframe to accommodate approval timeframes.
  2. Following receipt of all approvals, the balance of your funding will be released for delivery (less 10%, which will be paid following the submission of the project acquittal form).

If your project is not permitted, you will not have to pay back the initial outlay, however the balance of your project will be cancelled.

Q: Can I fund monitoring activities?

A: Yes.  Up to 10% of the project budget can be utilised for baseline, pre-works monitoring to establish a reference point for demonstrating success in the future. Provide details of how monitoring will be carried out, and how it will support the habitat intervention that you are planning.

Q: Can I fund Cultural Heritage survey, due-diligence assessment or Cultural Heritage Management Plans?

A: Yes, within limits.  Applicants are encouraged to plan the location and design of works to eliminate or minimise impacts on cultural heritage.  However, in Victoria all waterway frontages are deemed to be Culturally Sensitive within 200m of either bank.  Therefore, engaging a qualified person to undertake precautionary survey or due-diligence assessment is eligible where required, but should not exceed more than 10% of the total project budget.

Development of full Cultural Heritage Management Plans (CHMP) is not eligible for funding; however, this work can be included as an in-kind contribution by others.  Where a CHMP is required and unfunded the project should either be reconsidered, or co-contribution funding sought to fund both the CHMP development and any recommended actions of the plan.  If it is identified that a CHMP is required post awarding the grant, the applicant must contact the VFA to discuss a project variation and developing a solution to move the project forward (e.g. in an alternative location).

In many situations Crown Land and Waterway Managers already have a knowledge of the cultural assets in their region, and strong relationships with the Traditional Owners of the land on which the works are proposed.  All applicants must consult with both Crown Land and Waterway Manager for the proposed site as part of the application process.  Accordingly, they will be able to provide more specific advice during the project planning phase.

Q: Can I fund research projects, investigations or major engineering design-only projects?

A: No.  A key driver of the fund is for building high quality fish habitat where it is already known that habitat quality or quantity is limiting for fish populations.  Parallel research investment that overlaps with the roll out of your project proposal may be used as an in-kind contribution where it can be shown that it will have an immediate benefit to the project.

Q: Can I fund engineering design costs and/or construction oversight?

A: Yes.  Up to 10% of the project budget can be used for site specific engineering design and/or oversight.  The VFA understands that some habitat structures can be complex and need to be designed to maximise structural integrity and benefits to fish.  Some Authorities may also require engineering design and oversight to satisfy works permitting requirements.

Q: Can I fund a project for small-bodied native fish?

A: Possibly. Projects that target a single species of small-bodied native fish (e.g. a rare galaxiid in an alpine environment) are unlikely to be supported. However, projects that deliver benefits to multiple species of fish and recreational fishing outcomes, including small-bodied fish, would be encouraged.

Q: Can I install fishways or other water-infrastructure such as carp screens, wetland regulators or pumps?

A: Yes.  But: Keep in mind that the fund is for the improvement of fish habitat, not major infrastructure builds.  It is widely understood that barriers to fish passage are a major limiting factor for many fish populations. Equally, altered water regimes and European Carp may be having a major impact on aquatic vegetation, water quality and wetland productivity. To be considered, projects of this nature must be supported by complete, fully costed plans and design reports.  In general, fish passage projects should focus on overcoming minor barriers to movement (e.g. through removal of redundant v-notch weirs or road culverts), rather than building major new fish passage structures.

The applicant will need to demonstrate:

  • the need for the investment to overcome a critical gap in habitat,
  • how it will benefit fish populations,
  • that removal of the barrier does not pose unintended negative consequences e.g. facilitate the movement of predatory fish that may impact upstream native fish populations.
  • who will own, monitor or maintain the infrastructure into the future.
  • In the case of pump installations, the applicant will need to show that they have an existing water entitlement to access water, and how this will be sustained into the future.

Q: Can I fund European Carp reduction and/or eradication?

A: Yes.  In certain waterways Carp are a major limitation on habitat quality and quantity. Whilst carp reduction projects are eligible, to be considered you will be able to demonstrate:

  • that carp are the major limiting factor in habitat quality in the target waterway
  • that the proposed activity will effectively reduce (or eradicate) carp biomass and provide a lasting benefit to habitat in the waterway,

The installation of carp screens may also be supported, subject to the applicant demonstrating that they are part of an integrated plan to manage carp biomass.   For example (in addition to screening):

  • capitalising on or facilitating drying cycles,
  • using commercial carp harvesting contractors
  • aquatic vegetation restoration, and
  • facilitating predatory fish recovery

Ownership, monitoring and maintenance arrangements for the screens will also need to be demonstrated.

Q: Can I purchase tools and equipment required for on-ground volunteer activities? 

A: Yes.  Purchasing hand tools and equipment to aid volunteers is eligible.  Suitable equipment might include safety equipment such as protective glasses/gloves, fencing tools, shovels, planting augers etc.  A maximum of $2000 per project can be spent on tools and equipment.  Note the program does not fund the purchase of chemicals.  If chemical weed control is necessary, it should be included as an activity in your project budget, using qualified contractors for herbicide application, or as an in-kind contribution from the applicant.

Q: Can I fund fish stocking projects?

A: No.  Contact the VFA if you wish to discuss stocking, translocation, or captive breeding fish.  If you believe that your habitat project will only be successful in the long term if desirable species are helped to recover by re-stocking, then we are very happy to have this conversation with you.  If it has merit, the proposal may be referred to the Authority’s annual fish stocking plan and/or the Translocation Evaluation Panel (TEP) for consideration.

Q: Can I use project funds for undertaking or hosting formal training, education or running workshops/seminars etc?

A: No. Training is restricted to applied, on-ground practical works and demonstrations to build community capacity and understanding and does not include formal training courses, certificates or attendance/hosting seminars or conferences.

Q: Who can I contact for help?

You can contact the VFA’s Habitat Fund Project Manager Andrew Briggs on 0427 018 406, or by emailing

If you would like to speak to your local Catchment Management Authority for local advice on your project idea, please contact: