Marine Estate Community Survey

Authority advice to Minister for Primary Industries and Minister for the Environment – Marine Estate Community Survey

12 August 2014

I have great pleasure in providing you with the findings from the Marine Estate Community Survey (the survey) which was commissioned by NSW Department of Primary Industries, on behalf of the Authority, earlier this year.

As flagged in the marine estate Schedule of Works, the survey aimed to capture the NSW community's views on the marine estate to inform other key initiatives of the marine estate reforms program.

The results reflect the views of over 1,700 people from across NSW randomly sampled to avoid bias. They provide detailed qualitative and quantitative findings on the key social, economic and environmental values and benefits the NSW community derive from the marine estate and an understanding of their perceived threats to, and opportunities for the marine estate.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • The health of the marine estate is a core value that underpins the social, economic and environmental benefits derived from the estate;
  • The marine estate is integral to the NSW community's social and cultural well-being, and offers countless opportunities for the community to socialise, stay healthy and active and be a part of nature.
  • Forty eight percent of the community stated that a key social benefit is knowing that the marine estate is there, with all its natural beauty, even if they can't visit it regularly;
  • These benefits are amplified for coastal Indigenous communities as many of their core traditions are linked to the marine estate;
  • The diversity and abundance of marine life and natural beauty of the marine estate are key economic values for nature-based and regional tourism; with 44 percent of the NSW community noting a key economic opportunity for the marine estate is promoting these values, and associated tourism, more broadly;
  • Pollution of the marine estate, from littering, spills and land-based runoff, is perceived as the major threat to the social, economic and environmental values and benefits derived from the marine estate; with 55 percent of people noting that a key social threat is the loss of appeal of the marine estate due to pollution and littering and 62 percent noting water pollution affecting the viability of tourism was the greatest economic threat to the marine estate. Less than one in five members of the community identified overfishing as a priority threat.
  • Key management opportunities that were identified included addressing pollution, greater public involvement in decision-making and on-ground environmental action support programs, improved public education, increased public access, and actions to rehabilitate coastal habitats and address coastal inundation and erosion.

The Authority intends to make the media release, the full version of the final survey report, and outcomes from the Authority's consultation on the qualitative findings from the survey and the Expert Knowledge Panel's associated technical paper, available on the marine estate reforms website at This webpage will also include links to current NSW Government programs that are improving the community benefits, or are addressing the key threats, identified in the survey findings.

The survey was commissioned as a critical first step in engaging the NSW community on the new management regime for the marine estate to ensure their views and ideas are understood and considered in our decision-making and advice to government.

Our Principles Paper, Managing the NSW Marine Estate: Purpose, Underpinning Principles and Priority Setting (Principle 1), notes the importance of early and effective community engagement to identify and prioritise benefits and threats to the marine estate.The results are already informing current NSW Government programs and future marine estate reforms projects outlined in the Authority's Schedule of Works, including the proposed Marine Estate Management Act and Regulations, threat and risk assessment processes, and the Marine Estate Management Strategy.

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Page last updated/reviewed: 22 Nov 2016