Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment


The Marine Estate Management Authority (the Authority) has released the Phase 2: Community Engagement on Suggested Management Initiatives Report.(Connor, 2017) (1.18MB) This report provides an overview of the outcomes from the community engagement process undertaken in early 2016. This engagement sought feedback on the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment Discussion Paper – Suggested Management Initiatives. (PDF, 4956.38 KB)

Community engagement included an online submissions process, independently facilitated stakeholder workshops and agency led meetings with peak organisations.  Over 3,400 submissions and online entries were received during the public exhibition period. Three main themes emerged from the responses:

  • widespread concern about the level of biodiversity protection, in relation to both specific activities  and general conservation aims
  • high personal value for the range of services and uses the bioregion provides
  • Individuals and organisations want to safeguard those services and uses.

Given the wide range of personal values and uses the submissions ranged from full support to complete opposition to the proposed initiatives. Spatial management for biodiversity conservation and use sharing (Initiative 4) generated the largest amount of interest. Submissions ranged from suggesting the entire region be a large-multi-use marine park with sanctuary zones to ‘no lock-outs’, with a variety of responses in between.

New evidence has been considered during the finalisation of the bioregion threat and risk assessment, which has now been incorporated into the statewide Threat And Risk Assessment, due for public release later this year.

The NSW Government has tasked the Marine Estate Management Authority with bringing forward the finalisation of the first draft 10-year statewide Marine Estate Management Strategy which has now been released for public engagement from 30 October to 8 December 2017. The draft Strategy has considered feedback from the NSW community on the management initiatives for the bioregion and incorporated the broader initiatives into the statewide Strategy, such as water quality, restoration of aquatic habitats, litter and marine debris, research priorities, wildlife interactions, improving boating infrastructure and land use planning outcomes.

Several initiatives that address bioregion-specific priorities are progressing this year. These include reducing resource use conflict in Pittwater and regional boating strategies for Lake Macquarie and Pittwater.

Any proposed spatial management options for the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion will be undertaken separately to the draft Strategy and involve further extensive consultation.


The Marine Estate Management Authority (the Authority) began the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment (the Assessment) in 2015 and recommended  a number of management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity conservation whilst achieving balanced community outcomes including opportunities for a wide range of recreational and commercial uses. This project formed part of a suite of priority NSW Government initiatives to be delivered as part of its new approach to the sustainable management of the NSW marine estate.

The Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion extends between Newcastle, Sydney and Wollongong (PDF, 207 KB) and includes the coastline, estuaries, coastal lakes and lagoons, beaches, and ocean waters out to the continental shelf. The area of NSW state waters – which extends to three nautical miles from the coastline, is the focus.

Five Step Decision Making Process

The Assessment piloted the Authorities five step decision making process for marine estate management outlined in the 2013 Managing the NSW Marine Estate: Purpose, Underpinning Principles and Priority Setting (PDF, 2.12 MB) and the Marine Estate Management Act 2014. To date there have been two phases of engagement for the Assessment:

Phase 1

Phase 2

Background reports

Note: Some of these documents contain images of complex graphs. To obtain an accessible version of the content email contact.us@marine.nsw.gov.au  for more information.


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Page last updated/reviewed: 04 Apr 2018