Protecting the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish

Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish. Photo: Department of Primary Industries.
Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish. Photo: Department of Primary Industries.

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is a rare species of Australian crayfish found only in Wildes Meadow Creek in the Southern Highlands. 

Surviving as a remnant population, it is restricted to a small length of the waterway upstream from Fitzroy Falls.

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish in its natural environment may be confused with the common Yabby, which has been translocated to the Wildes Meadow Creek catchment from the Murray-Darling Basin.

Not much is known about this fascinating prickly creature, except that populations are declining and there are various threats impacting it. 

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish differs from a yabby in that it is larger in size, and has short spikes on its claws and abdomen. The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish are dark olive-green, brown and have a pale orange underside. 

The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) said community members could help to protect the crayfish by learning the difference from the common yabby, reporting sightings and releasing those that are caught. 

Wingecarribee Shire Council environmental projects officer Joe Stammers said while there was signage about the crayfish at the creek, council was taking a more active approach to protect the endangered species. 

“[Council] is in the process of looking to engage landholders in that area to establish a protection project," he said. 

DPI has encouraged the community to report sightings on (02) 4916 3877. 

It is illegal to catch and keep, buy, sell, possess or harm Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish without approval.

Penalties can include fines of up to $220,000 and up to two years in prison.

Causing damage to the habitat of a threatened species without approval is also illegal and penalties apply.

Reasons for the Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish’s decline include interaction with regular yabbies, misidentification by fishers and degradation of the natural environment. 

The Fitzroy Falls Spiny Crayfish is most active late afternoon and early evening.