Giant Freshwater Crayfish Project

The Giant Freshwater Crayfish Project aimed to expand and recover existing populations of giant freshwater crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) in north-east Tasmania. This was achieved by improving water quality and enhancing native streamside habitat connectivity within priority stream reaches of the Pipers, Brid, and Boobyalla catchments.


Adult giant freshwater crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) can grow to weigh 6 kg and over 80 cm in length, however, there are currently very few individuals of this size in the wild. Image: Lauren Bird.


The Giant Freshwater Crayfish Project engages landholders located within priority stream reaches of the Pipers, Brid and Boobyalla catchments to co-invest in on-ground habitat restoration works. These works may include livestock exclusion fencing, controlling riverbank weeds, native riverbank revegetation and providing alternative livestock water sources.

The project also engages the community by involving volunteers in habitat planting days and a citizen science program that raises awareness of the species and its threats. Trained citizen scientists are equipped to collect data on potential crayfish habitats for adults and juveniles. The data collected is important for improving knowledge about the species’ distribution and where to focus on-ground habitat restoration investment.

These actions will reduce threats to giant freshwater crayfish by:

  • maintaining and improving critical habitat for the species and reducing habitat disturbance;
  • improving soil stability and riverbank integrity;
  • providing a steady food source;
  • filtering sediment and effluent runoff;
  • mitigating the impacts of climate change such as potential changes to flow and flood events, water temperature extremes, and streamside vegetation health; and
  • improving community knowledge of the species, its threats and habitat requirements.


The Tasmanian giant freshwater crayfish (Astacopsis gouldi) is the largest freshwater invertebrate in the world, capable of growing to over 80 centimetres in length and weighing up to six kilograms. Endemic to northern Tasmania, it is only found in rivers that flow into Bass Strait and the Arthur catchment (except for the Tamar catchment) and is culturally significant to the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

Once a common sight in northern Tasmania, the species is now listed as vulnerable under both the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and as endangered under the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species. In recent years the recorded weight of most large mature adults has been less than three kilograms.

Threats to the giant freshwater crayfish include habitat disturbance or loss, sedimentation of waterways, illegal fishing, drought and climate change. Any form of land clearing or habitat disturbance that results in increased sedimentation of waterways, including in-stream erosion, bank destabilisation, slope run-off and clearing in upstream reaches of catchments present high risks, particularly for juveniles.


Excluding livestock from rivers and establishing dense native plantings reduces threats to giant freshwater crayfish by reducing disturbance and establishing shade. Image: Lauren Bird.

Giant Freshwater Lobster Project focus area

The project will focus on key habitat areas in the Brid, Pipers and Boobyalla catchments.


NRM North works with landholders and the community to exclude livestock from waterways, establish dense native vegetation in place of exotic weeds and install alternative water sources for livestock within high priority reaches of the Pipers, Brid and Boobyalla catchments. Delivery of the project includes:

  • the provision of advice and planning towards best practice management for waterways and threatened species;
  • on-ground riverbank protection and rehabilitation work with a focus on improving water quality and contiguous native streamside habitat quality and connectivity within high priority stream reaches;
  • establishing a database of baseline and end-of-project fauna and habitat condition data for giant freshwater crayfish within priority stream reaches of the three catchments;
  • increasing the knowledge and awareness amongst landowners and the community about giant freshwater crayfish and threats to the species; and
  • establishing a citizen science program and providing ongoing training opportunities to involve the community in surveying water quality and potential habitat for adult and juvenile giant freshwater crayfish.

Get Involved

There are plenty of ways that you can help to protect populations of giant freshwater crayfish in Tasmania, regardless of whether you are a landholder within a priority stream reach or an enthusiastic community member.

These may include:

  • maintaining native streamside vegetation and protecting riverbanks from erosion by fencing livestock out of waterways and providing off-stream water sources for livestock;
  • maintaining your fence and streamside vegetation buffers of at least 10 metres from the riverbank (both sides) for shading and runoff filtration;
  • restoring waterway shading and stabilising riverbanks by densely planting a mixed variety of native species;
  • leaving critical habitat, such as logs and branches that fall into waterways in place;
  • reporting poaching activities to the Inland Fisheries Service at or call 1300 INFISH;
  • helping to identify priority habitat by becoming involved in the project’s citizen science program; and/or
  • becoming involved in NRM North’s Volunteer Champions Program and attending a volunteer planting day for giant freshwater crayfish habitat.

For more information please contact Biodiversity Coordinator Kym Blechynden at


Become directly involved in giant freshwater crayfish conservation by identifying priority habitat for the species through the project’s citizen science program. Image: Lauren Bird.


This project is supported by NRM North, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.


This project is supported by NRM North, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.