Marine legislation

For the first time in New South Wales, the Marine Estate Management Act 2014 provides for strategic and integrated management of the whole marine estate – our marine waters, coasts and estuaries.

The Act commenced on 19 December 2014.

The Act sets the legal foundation for delivering on the NSW Government's vision for a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest well-being of the community, now and into the future. It will mean that decisions will be made by considering environmental, economic and social factors.

The Act does this by:

The Act is supported by regulations that set out the rules for managing the marine estate and marine parks, and an aquatic reserve notification is in place with management rules for aquatic reserves:

Marine Parks and Aquatic Reserves

The Act provides for the integrated declaration and management of a comprehensive system of marine parks and aquatic reserves in the context of the whole marine estate. Marine park and aquatic reserve declaration and management will have regard to the Marine Estate Management Strategy and threat and risk assessment.

Under the Act the primary purpose of marine parks and aquatic reserves is to conserve biological diversity, and maintain ecosystem integrity and function. Where consistent with biodiversity conservation, other uses are supported.

Management plans for marine parks and aquatic reserves will include information on:

  • educational, compliance, research and other management programs
  • zoning and other management rules
  • the environmental, social and economic values to be conserved and threats to those values 
  • management objectives and actions to achieve those objectives.

Existing zoning plans and operational plans remain in force until new management plans can be developed. Management planning will be piloted at Batemans Marine Park and Solitary Islands Marine Park once new regulations are in place.

For more information please visit:

Community and Stakeholder Engagement

Extensive consultation with the community and interest groups will be an essential step in informing the future direction of marine estate management.

 A comprehensive review of the regulations under the Act will commence in 2015 and involve consultation with business and the community.

Marine Estate Community Survey

The marine estate community survey completed earlier this year reflects the views of over 1,700 people. Key findings informed the development of the Act and will be a key consideration when reviewing the regulations.

The findings of the survey show that health of the marine estate is a core value that underpins the environmental, economic and social benefits derived from the estate. The marine estate is also considered integral to the NSW community's social and cultural well-being.

Other laws

Other laws that relate to the health, use and enjoyment of the marine estate are listed below. These are available at the NSW legislation website.

  • Coastal Protection Act 1979
  • Crown Lands Act 1989
  • Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
  • Fisheries Management Act 1994
  • Local Government Act 1993
  • Local Land Services Act 2013
  • Marine Pollution Act 2012
  • Marine Safety Act 1998
  • Maritime Services Act 1935
  • National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974
  • Native Title (New South Wales) Act 1994
  • Natural Resources Commission Act
  • Ports and Maritime Administration Act 1995
  • Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997
  • Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
  • Transport Administration Act 1988
  • Water Management Act 2000.

More Information

Page last updated/reviewed: 03 Nov 2015