state the environmental, economic and social values to be conserved by the marine park
identify threats to those values
state the management objectives of the marine park in relation to those values and threats
specify actions to achieve those management objectives, based on a consideration of risks
set out the programs to be implemented for managing the marine park
Discussions with marine park advisory committees and agencies (2020)
Stage one is the development of the management Plan for the NSW mainland marine park network.
Stage two is the development of the draft marine park management rules (including zoning) to implement those actions in the Plan that relate to rules.
conserving biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and function, particularly by managing cumulative threats associated with reductions in abundances of species and trophic levels
providing scientific reference sites
conserving bequest and intrinsic values
increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change
as one tool to manage some resource use conflict.
Rules that protect threatened or protected species habitats or ecosystems by restricting access to special areas
Research to understand and manage new and emerging impacts on marine wildlife
Education to protect known breeding, nesting and roosting sites, and reduce wildlife disturbance
Implementation of priority management actions for an array of threatened species in marine parks.
conserving biodiversity, ecosystem integrity and function, particularly by managing cumulative threats to environmental values
providing scientific reference sites
conserving bequest and intrinsic values
increasing resilience to the impacts of climate change
as one tool to manage some resource use conflict.
There is an action included in the draft Plan to support the use of spatial management in the form of no-take or sanctuary zones to deliver each of these benefits in future. No-take or sanctuary zones may be supported where evidence indicates they may deliver these benefits at specific locations.
What is the draft Network Management Plan?
The draft Network Management Plan (draft Plan) will provide a streamlined, single plan of management for the five mainland marine parks and will outline priority management objectives and actions for the mainland marine park network over the next decade. The draft Plan is not about whether there should be more or less marine parks, but how to effectively manage existing parks into the future.
The draft Plan is a new approach to marine park management. It will consider all priority threats to marine park values, including threats that originate both within and outside the marine parks and will contain the most effective management actions to respond to threats. These include research, education, rehabilitation, infrastructure, compliance, planning, policy, rules and partnership activities, based on the best available scientific evidence and engagement with communities and stakeholder groups.
How will this draft Plan help with my local issues?
While some issues are unique to local areas and need a tailored local solution, there are many common issues across marine parks that may benefit from a coordinated response, and there are some issues that have been addressed inconsistently across marine parks in the past.
For the first time, the draft Plan proposes a coordinated and consistent approach across the NSW marine park network balanced with a local approach for unique local issues. We welcome the community’s advice on this approach to help us make sure we get that balance right.
The draft Plan also proposes simple 3-year implementation plan for each marine park to provide further detail required to support local issues.
Why is a new approach needed to marine park planning and management?
The draft Plan is not just a review of existing arrangements – it is a completely new approach to marine park management.
Historically, NSW marine parks have had a primary focus on conserving environmental values by using zoning to manage in-water activities. Opportunities to enhance social, cultural and economic values while still conserving environmental values have not been proactively pursued. Opportunities to manage catchment threats to marine park values have been very limited. The new approach aims to conserve environmental, social, cultural and economic values, and manage priority threats to those values. It considers threats that originate in the water, and in adjacent catchments. The draft Plan includes a range of actions including research, education, on-ground rehabilitation, infrastructure, compliance, policy, partnerships and regulation. The actions proposed are based on the best available knowledge and evidence.
Regulation (including zoning) is just one of many actions proposed.
What does the draft Plan cover and why are we doing it?
The draft Plan includes the five mainland marine parks in NSW – Cape Byron, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay and Batemans. Local evidence and advice has highlighted that there are many common issues across the five mainland marine parks that require coordinated solutions, but also many unique local issues that need a specific local response.
A network management plan for mainland marine parks is proposed to ensure common issues can be addressed consistently and most effectively, but still also considers and addresses additional specific local marine park values, issues and needs.
A similar network planning approach has proven to be effective in other jurisdictions, including Australian marine parks.
The Marine Estate Management Act 2014 establishes the requirement for a marine park management plan to be prepared and adopted for one or more marine parks in NSW and provides clear guidance for the management planning process. Section 48 outlines the required content, and states that management plans must:
This draft Plan delivers on these requirements.
Why isn't Lord Howe Island Marine Park covered by the draft plan?
Lord Howe Island Marine Park has many unique issues and management arrangements. A draft management plan for Lord Howe Island Marine Park will be developed after the NSW mainland marine park network management plan has been finalised.
Why has this approach taken several years to deliver a draft Plan?
Some stakeholders have been eagerly awaiting a review of marine park management for a number of years. The new approach to marine park management is one of many priority projects delivered under the NSW marine estate reforms since 2013. To implement the new approach, it was necessary for other priority projects to be completed first so that they could inform the draft plan.
The information in the draft Plan has been informed by evidence and knowledge from the following projects:
When will the community be engaged on management rules for marine parks?
The new approach to marine park planning includes two clear stages:
The draft Plan proposes a range of actions to conserve marine park values and manage threats to those values. Some of the actions in the draft Plan propose use of regulation such as spatial management (zoning), permits or other rules. The detail of the draft management rules will be delivered in stage two.
Further community engagement will be undertaken on any proposed changes to management rules, including zoning.
How does the draft Plan link to management rules?
The draft Plan identifies certain marine park values and threats that may benefit from the use of rules and zoning, but it does not include any specific detail on rules or zones. The detail of any rules or zones will be developed in stage two of the planning process (see response above).
When can I provide feedback on the Batemans amnesty which is allowing limited recreational fishing in sanctuary zones?
On 12 December 2019, the NSW Government announced increased recreational fishing access is immediately available at five sites in the Batemans Marine Park. These sites included Brou Lake (South), Clarks Bay (Freshwater Bay), Forsters Bay, Montague Island and Nangudga Lake.
These changes followed targeted consultation including with local members of the former Batemans Marine Park Advisory Committee. Draft management rules to implement the final Network Management Plan, incorporating these zone changes, will be subject to a minimum two-month statutory consultation period during stage two of the planning process.
How does the draft Plan interact with Native Title?
Native Title claims have been determined over Sea Country in Cape Byron and Solitary Islands marine parks. A claim is pending in Jervis Bay and Batemans marine parks.
The draft Plan has been prepared consistent with the principle that Native Title exists in NSW waters. It aims to support and complement Native Title determinations.
Is zoning still proposed as a tool going forward to manage values and reduce threats in marine parks (e.g sanctuary zones)?
Some marine park management rules use spatial management or zoning to regulate certain activities within a defined area of a marine park. The Government response to the Report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales recognises that no-take ‘sanctuary zones,’ or areas where extractive activities including fishing are restricted, do have an important role in marine estate management, as one tool in a suite of actions needed to conserve values and manage threats. Advice and evidence received during development of this draft Plan has confirmed that no-take or sanctuary zones deliver a number of benefits in NSW marine parks by conserving specific values or managing specific threats, including:
There is an action included in the draft Plan to support the use of spatial management in the form of no-take or sanctuary zones to deliver each of these benefits in future. The draft Plan does not intend to increase access and opportunity for extractive activities in areas that remain or are designated as no-take or sanctuary zones in the future.
The management plan does include actions where increased access and opportunity for activities such as fishing, ecotourism and other secondary purposes of marine parks may be allowed in other zones where evidence indicates they are minimal or low risk and consistent with the primary purposes of marine parks. Any proposed management changes will be effectively monitored and evaluated to ensure they achieve intended outcomes.
The details of draft management rules, including zones, their specific objectives, the marine park values to be conserved, threats to be managed and locations, will be developed in stage two of the process and will be subject to further community consultation.
What happens after consultation the draft Plan ends?
After the consultation period, community feedback and advice will be analysed and assessed for trends and compared with available informal and formal evidence. The draft Plan will be revised to incorporate the results of this analysis, and then submitted to the Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) for review and approval.
Once approved by MEMA, the final management Plan will be submitted to the two Ministers, the Minister for Agriculture and Western New South Wales and Minister for Energy and Environment, responsible for marine estate management for final approval.
Draft management rules (including zoning) will be developed in stage two of the planning process to implement the regulatory actions in the Plan. The draft management rules will be submitted to the two Ministers for approval to undertake public consultation.
What is the current status of the Hawkesbury Shelf proposal from 2018?
Extensive consultation on the Hawkesbury shelf marine bioregion marine park proposal was undertaken in 2018 and is still under consideration by the NSW Government.
Existing management rules for the aquatic reserve network remain in place and the NSW Government continues to explore opportunities for better management of values and threats across the whole NSW marine estate via the delivery of the Marine Estate Management Strategy (2018-2028).
Does the draft Plan propose any new marine parks?
No, the draft Plan focusses on improving the management of the five existing mainland marine parks.
NSW has sustainable fisheries management, so what is the value of marine parks?
Sustainable fisheries management is delivered across the NSW marine estate through the Fisheries Management Act 1994 and regulations and supporting policies and plans. All fisheries management arrangements that apply in NSW waters also apply to the waters of NSW marine parks. Additional management arrangements apply in marine parks to achieve the objects of the Marine Estate Management Act 2014 and purposes of marine parks, outlined in section 22 of the Act.
While complementary, fisheries management and marine park management have different objectives. Fisheries management aims to conserve and maximise recreationally and commercially important fish stocks at sustainable levels. Marine parks aim more broadly to conserve biological diversity and maintain ecosystem integrity and function. Fisheries management seeks to maximise sustainable levels of target fish species, while marine parks aim to conserve all marine life, habitats, ecosystems and processes and support uses and activities that are consistent with the conservation of marine biodiversity, including fishing.
How will this draft Plan link to Coastal Management Plans and the Marine Estate Management Strategy?
Effective management of marine parks requires a coordinated management approach with strong linkages between catchment and marine park management. Marine park programs will complement, build on and fill priority gaps in existing external programs and avoid duplication.
The Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018–2028 outlines how the most significant statewide threats to the environmental, social, cultural and economic values of the NSW marine estate will be managed over the next 10 years. The draft Plan aims to complement actions underway through the Strategy and support delivery of Strategy actions within the five mainland marine parks.
While both approaches have been guided by the same threat and risk approach and decision-making methodology, the Strategy addresses priority threats that were assigned a risk level of moderate or high in all three regions (north, central and south) of NSW. The Strategy has management objectives and actions to respond to these priority statewide threats at a statewide scale. This draft Plan identifies priority threats at a local marine park scale and takes a place-based approach to conserving values and managing those threats that is consistent with the specific purposes of marine parks stated in the Marine Estate Management Act.
Coastal management programs (CMPs) set the long-term strategy for the coordinated management of the NSW coast, with a focus on achieving the objectives of the Coastal Management Act 2016 and identify coastal management issues and the actions required to address these issues in a strategic and integrated way. CMPs detail how and when those actions are to be implemented and resourcing requirements. Many of the key threats to marine park values are actively managed under CMPs. The actions in the draft Plan identify opportunities to complement, integrate with and add value to this work.
What science/evidence is there to support marine parks in NSW?
NSW marine parks are important sites for scientific research with many different research institutions, organisations, government agencies and individuals undertaking studies and programs of research. By providing data and knowledge to support evidence-based decision making, research is an important tool for effective marine park management. Research is also a valued activity in its own right with many sites in marine parks being highly valued for their scientific interest. A significant body of research has been undertaken within NSW marine parks to date.
What are marine parks and why are they special places?
Marine parks are special areas set aside to conserve marine environmental values for everyone to share. The primary purpose of marine parks under legislation is to conserve the biological diversity, and maintain ecosystems, of these areas in the marine estate. This includes protecting animals such as turtles, birds, fish, sponges and environments like mangrove forests, seagrass beds, reefs and beaches.
NSW marine parks have always been multiple use areas for everyone to enjoy, with management rules, including zoning, seeking to balance different values and uses. Currently 17.5% of the total area of the five mainland marine parks is set aside as ‘no-take’ or ‘sanctuary zones’ where extractive activities that may harm plants and animals are highly restricted.
Each marine park has been selected to showcase the best representative sample of everything the NSW marine environment has to offer. Each marine park includes a unique mix of special natural features and ecosystems that underpin important environmental, social, cultural and economic values.
Legislative provisions have been in place for between 15 and 39 years to conserve these special places and protect them from a range of threats. This protection has given marine parks a unique identity and a special place in many hearts. The community feels a strong sense of ownership and stewardship for our marine parks. Marine parks have become hot spots for education, research, marine tourism, appreciation of Aboriginal culture and development of environmental best-practice. See What are marine parks? for more information.
What's the difference between marine parks and the Marine Estate?
Marine parks are part of the NSW marine estate – that is our estuaries, beaches, dunes, headlands, islands, coastal wetlands and ocean seaward to 3 nautical miles. The marine estate stretches from the Queensland border to the Victorian border.
The marine estate is a valuable natural asset and supports the wellbeing, lifestyle and livelihoods of the community of NSW.
Our marine parks are special areas within the broader marine estate where the conservation of marine life, their habitats and ecological processes is prioritised. These environmental values also underpin important social, cultural and economic values within marine parks. See What are marine parks? for more information.
How does the draft Plan support our threatened and protected marine wildlife?
The plan incorporates a range of actions to support threatened and protected species. These can generally be found under Objective 1 To protect and enhance species, habitats and ecosystems within marine parks.
These actions have been informed by the Saving our Species Framework and include:
How does the draft Plan seek to address climate change threats in marine parks?
The draft Plan includes a management objective and related actions to help understand, mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change on marine parks. Management actions include research, planning and management rules to understand and respond to climate change as a priority threat.
What are threatened and protected species?
Threatened and protected species are plants and animals that have special protection in NSW and Commonwealth legislation. They are given this special protection for a range of reasons which can include declines in population, distribution, or having few adult plants or animals in their population. In marine parks, these include marine mammals (whales, dolphins, and seals), marine reptiles (turtles, sea snakes), shorebirds (such as oystercatchers, plovers, sandpipers, herons), seabirds (such as petrels, albatrosses, shearwaters), and threatened wildlife species (such as Little Penguin).
How does the draft Plan respond to key issues?
No-take or sanctuary zones
The draft Plan includes actions which may support increased access and opportunity for activities such as low impact fishing, manipulative research, ecotourism and other low impact social and economic activities.
Some marine park management rules use spatial management or zoning to regulate certain activities within a defined area of a marine park. The Government response to the Report of the Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in New South Wales recognises that no-take or ‘sanctuary zones,’ or areas where extractive activities are restricted, do have an important role in marine estate management, as one tool in a suite of actions needed to conserve values and manage threats.
Advice and evidence received during development of the draft Plan has confirmed that no-take or sanctuary zones deliver a number of benefits in NSW marine parks by conserving specific values or managing specific threats, including:
The details of draft management rules, including zones, their locations, their specific objectives, the marine park values to be conserved, and threats to be managed, will be developed in stage two of the process after the draft Plan is finalised and will be subject to a minimum further two months of community consultation.
Any areas that are declared as no-take or sanctuary zones after consideration of evidence and community consultation in stage two of the process will remain no-take areas to provide the benefits identified above. Any areas that are classified as no-take or sanctuary zone under future management rules will not permit extractive commercial and recreational activities that are prohibited in sanctuary zones under current management rules.
Artificial reefs in marine parks
The draft Plan seeks to improve and restore marine habitat, as well as provide improved access and opportunity for outdoor recreation and enjoyment. One element of this approach is outlining management actions that consider the use of innovative structures (including artificial reefs and fishing platforms) in marine parks.
Use of these types of infrastructure can enhance marine park values, improve habitat areas and improve safe access, whilst also reducing user conflicts and enhancing access opportunities – particularly for recreational fishers. These structures also provide the community with offsets for areas set aside for ecological protection, which assists to provide a balance on the use of marine parks across communities.
Any proposed structures would be considered in line with the purposes of marine parks and subject to environmental assessment processes.
What is water quality like in our mainland marine parks?
The Marine Estate Threat and Risk Assessment (2017) (TARA) has identified several threats to water quality as a high risk for both the northern and southern regions in NSW. This risk rating applies to very large regional areas rather than at the local marine park scale. Local advice and evidence has confirmed several TARA water quality threats to environmental, social, cultural and economic values at a local scale.
Approximately 36% of all NSW mainland marine park catchments are protected in national park estate, which helps to protect marine parks from most priority threats to water quality.
There are a range of existing and planned programs that aim to improve water quality at a state-wide level. These are largely delivered under the Marine Estate Management Strategy and Coastal Management Programs. Many projects are already being delivered in and adjacent to our marine parks. The draft management plan aims to complement and add value to these existing programs.
The draft Network Management Plan includes a management objective “To improve water quality and reduce marine litter within marine parks for the environment and community”. Under this objective, there are 24 management actions that focus on improving planning, research, infrastructure, education, rules, policies and compliance.