Restoring Habitat for Red Handfish


The objective of this project is to improve the conservation trajectory of the critically endangered Red handfish (Thymichthys politus).



Red handfish, which are only found at select sites in southeast Tasmania, are considered to be one of the most vulnerable marine fish species in the world. Relying on modified hand-shaped fins to move across the seabed, they are only able to move short distances and can only live in areas that meet very specific conditions – which makes them very vulnerable to extinction. It is listed as critically endangered under the EPBC Act and the Threatened Species Protection Act 1995 and is one of the Australian Government’s priority species under its Threatened Species Strategy 2021-2031. Historical and current ecological data confirms that these fishes have specialised habitat requirements, patchy distributions, and poor dispersal capabilities. The main potential threats to the Red handfish are the loss of habitat throughecosystem imbalance and potentially environmental pollutants, and local environmental effects such as changing water temperatures.


Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Australian Government – Environmental Restoration Fund



March 2022 – March 2023



This project will build on previous work and will consist of a combination of interconnected and targeted activities. It will measure habitat cover and threat extent to plan targeted approaches to remediate habitat through translocation of kelp-covered boulders while simultaneously removing threat of urchins to habitat cover. It is novel in its multi-faceted approach to simultaneously deliver on-ground activities to maximise outcomes for habitat restoration. The outcomes from these approaches will be used to inform future habitat management actions.