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Frequently asked questions

Published 2 March 2023

What is the NSW marine estate?

The marine estate includes the

  • ocean
  • estuaries
  • coastal wetlands (saltmarsh, mangroves, seagrass)
  • coastline including beaches, dunes and headlands
  • coastal lakes and lagoons connected to the ocean
  • islands including Lord Howe Island

It extends seaward out to 3 nautical miles and from the Queensland border to the Victorian border, as shown in the map.

Why is the Authority undertaking a community survey?

The people of NSW value the marine estate. It has multiple uses and benefits that contribute to the community's wellbeing.

As noted in Managing the NSW Marine Estate: Purpose, Underpinning Principles and Priority Setting (Principle 1), effective community engagement is needed to identify and prioritise benefits and threats to the marine estate.

This survey is the first step of engaging the NSW community in the new approach to management of the marine estate to ensure community views and ideas are understood and considered in decision-making.

The survey provides a statistically robust sample of the community's views on the range of values and benefits derived from the marine estate, the threats that need to be managed now and in the future, the opportunities it provides for future use or enjoyment and possible management solutions to key threats associated with its use.

How was the information collected?

The community survey needed to reach a wide variety of people who value the marine estate from social, economic and/or environmental points of view. A variety of methods were used to collect the information from the broader community as well as specific stakeholder groups.

The results include a representative sample of the NSW community's views. To achieve this, some of the methods used involved random sampling of a representative portion of the population to avoid biased results.

An independent contractor, Sweeney Research, was commissioned to implement a range of research activities to capture the variety of community views about the marine estate at local, regional and State scales.

Detailed in-depth interviews were conducted with 36 different marine estate interest/user groups (including a total of 5 peak and regional Aboriginal representatives). Seven (7) focus groups with local community representation were conducted in seven (7) regional locations. These included Lismore, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Orange, Sydney, Batemans Bay and Eden. These locations were chosen to capture input from across the marine estate (including inside and outside marine park areas) and from inland NSW to ensure broad representation and greater in-sight into the community's views and values of the estate.

The results of the interviews and focus groups were used to formulate an on-line questionnaire which was completed by a randomised sample of just over 1,000 NSW community residents with representation from across all regions of NSW during March 2014. The selection process ensured that adults (aged 18 and over) of all ages were captured and there was no gender bias.

Over 700 field intercept surveys of local residents and tourists visiting the marine estate at seven (7) regional locations along the NSW coast were also conducted during March 2014. These regional locations included Ballina, Coffs Harbour, Newcastle, Sydney (Circular Quay and Pittwater), Batemans Bay and Eden.

The NSW community were also provided an opportunity to have their say on the initial results via an online survey which closed on 8 June 2014.

The NSW Government is already responding to the key findings from the survey. The results are also informing several priority projects in the NSW marine estate Schedule of Works including the:

Which marine estate interest/user groups were interviewed?

A total of 36 in-depth interviews were held with representatives from key marine estate interest/user groups from the following interest areas:

  • Aboriginal community
  • aquaculture
  • commercial fishing
  • conservation
  • ethnic community
  • farming organisations
  • local government
  • marine-related tourism and businesses
  • recreational and commercial boating and shipping and associated industries
  • recreational fishing and associated industries
  • science and research
  • surf life saving
  • other recreational uses (e.g. surfing, diving)

What questions were asked during the survey?

The survey included a range of questions to determine:

  • how marine estate interest/user groups and the wider NSW community value and use the marine estate
  • the personal benefits they derive from the marine estate
  • changes they have observed to the marine estate in the short and long-term
  • their perceptions on NSW marine parks and their management
  • their perceptions on the threats to, and opportunities for, the marine estate now and in the future
  • their priority benefits, threats and opportunities to inform future management of the marine estate

Who conducted the research?

Sweeney Research was commissioned to undertake the research. They are a leading market research company and are one of the largest Australian owned research consultancies in Australia.

When did the survey take place?

The survey commenced on 13 January 2014 and will concluded June 2014. Fieldwork coincided with the summer period when a broad range of users of the marine estate, including tourists, were sampled.

What is meant by 'value'?

For the purpose of this survey a value is the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

The value of the marine estate can include:

  • intrinsic value that marine biodiversity has, and gives to my confidence that the ocean is healthy
  • the opportunity to access and use a local beach when I want to for recreation
  • knowing that my grandchildren will have the same opportunity for quality fishing experiences in our local fishing port that I had as a child
  • the impetus that the marine environment provides for people to buy my swimwear/sports goods/fishing gear/tourist products

What is meant by 'benefit'?

A benefit is anything that is for the good of a person, community or thing.

The benefit of the marine estate could be:

  • cooling off by swimming at the beach on a hot summer day
  • exercising while enjoying the coastal views
  • family time at the beach or while boating in an estuary
  • undertaking a hobby (e.g. fishing, kayaking, surfing, bird watching)
  • deriving income (e.g. whale watching business, charter fishing, commercial fishing)

What is meant by 'threat'?

A threat to the marine estate is any activity or process which prevents environmental, social and economic values and benefits that people derive from the estate from being realised. Some threats are likely to vary in complexity and scale across the estate. This can impact on the ability to manage the threat or to adapt to it over time.

A threat to the marine estate could be:

  • poor water quality entering an estuary affecting a local fishing or swimming spot
  • closing areas to particular uses
  • a new pest species emerging affecting a local fishing, boating or aquaculture industry

What is meant by 'opportunity'?

An opportunity for the purposes of this survey is a time or set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something, or achieve an outcome, in the marine estate.

An opportunity for the marine estate could be:

  • seeking additional boating infrastructure to improve boating access to an estuary
  • conserving a special area of social or ecological importance
  • starting a new commercial venture
  • promoting a new marine-based water sport