NSW Marine Estate Review

We cannot be confident that current protections for marine life in the Batemans Marine Park will be maintained. There are still some people around who are hostile to the Marine Park and we are concerned that the Government seems much readier to listen to their voices than it is to listen to the voices of conservation and science.


NCMG has been closely engaged with government processes over the years, and will be looking for greater involvement from our members and supporters as we move into what is likely to be a crucial year.


The following provides a background to the Batemans Marine Park and the current state of play.  Link are provided to relevant Government documents, NCMG submissions and other associated material.



The establishment of the Batemans Marine Park in 2006 was part of a process that involved short-listing, selecting and designing marine parks that would form part of a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA).


This process involved the Commonwealth Government, all the State Governments and the Northern Territory Government agreeing to a uniform national approach to conserve marine biodiversity.  The marine parks also enabled Australia to comply with international obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity, arising out of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit.


However, in recent years there have been moratoriums on the establishment of new marine parks, changes in existing rules and reviews undertaken.  These events have taken place in NSW, other Australian States and in Commonwealth waters.


Recent NSW history

Prior to the 2011 NSW election, the Labor Government had undertaken a review of the science supporting marine parks and an enquiry into recreational fishing.  These actions were in response to active lobbying by those opposed to marine park in general, the location of marine parks or to the zoning applied in marine parks.


Among the outcomes of the Government enquiries was a five-year moratorium on the creation of any new marine parks.


In June 2011, in fulfilment of a pledge made during the NSW election campaign, the newly elected Liberal/National party coalition commissioned an Independent Scientific Audit of Marine Parks in NSW.

(link to the Audit Report:  https://www.marine.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/739434/Report-of-the-Independent-Scientific-Audit-of-Marine-Parks-in-New-South-Wales-2012.PDF)


In March 2013, the NSW Government responded to the Audit’s recommendations, resulting in:

  • an immediate amnesty on line fishing in no-take sanctuary zones on ocean beaches and coastal headlands within marine parks, except for sites protecting threatened species

  • disbanding the NSW Marine Parks Authority and establishing two new advisory bodies, the Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) and the Marine Estate Expert Knowledge Panel (MEEKP)

  • maintaining the moratorium on new marine parks, until advice  received from MEEKP

  • undertaking a ‘Threat and Risk Assessment’ for the NSW marine estate, and

  • reform marine park management.

(link to the Government’s Audit Report response:  https://www.marine.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0008/498617/Government-response-to-the-marine-parks-audit-a-new-approach.pdf)


The government also transferred the administration of marine parks from the environment department to the primary industries portfolio.


Current state of play

The history of marine parks shows that Governments continually adjust and shift their policy positions.  The finalisation of marine park boundaries and zones can change and management arrangements alter.


In December 2019 the NSW Government announced changes to allow fishing in five of the sanctuary zones in the Batemans Marine Park.  This action was undertaken without consultation among the wider community and contrary to the spirit of their own legislation.  Read more on our Sanctuary Zones page.


The Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018 to 2028 was released in 2018 and an Implementation Plan in 2019.



Next steps

The Marine Estate Management Authority will:

Marine Estate Management Strategy 2018 - 2028

Marine Estate Management Strategy Implementation Plan 2018 - 2028

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