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How are the results being used?

Published 2 March 2023

The NSW Government is responding to the key findings from the survey through many of its current programs within the NSW marine estate. Just a few examples are provided here:

Key threats / opportunities from the survey

  • Littering in the marine estate
  • Other forms of water pollution including spills and land-based runoff
  • Public access to the marine estate
  • Coastal wetland rehabilitation and on-ground environmental action
  • Education programs

Littering in the marine estate

NSW Environment Protection Agency

  • Litter prevention is a key priority for NSW. By 2016, NSW aims to have the lowest litter count per capita in Australia. This equates to about a 40% reduction in the number of littered items by 2016, based on 2011-12 data.
  • The NSW Government has committed $20 million to 2017 to revitalise litter programs as part of the broader $465 million Waste Less, Recycle More initiative.
  • The new NSW Litter Prevention Strategy is being developed and will be released for public feedback before being finalised. The strategy will provide the key facts about litter in NSW, and include an Action Framework setting out key actions and timeframes to achieve the ambitious litter reduction target set by the NSW Government.
  • In 2013-14, almost $2.7 million in Council Litter Prevention Grant funding was provided to local councils. Funding supports the roll out of integrated litter projects that include public education, effective infrastructure and site clean-up and increased enforcement.
  • In partnership with Keep NSW Beautiful, 31 Community Litter Prevention Grants projects were funded and EPA has provided further funding of $375,000 for community groups to tackle litter this year.
  • The Local Litter Check helps gather evidence about litter behaviour in sites such as local parks and beaches. It has easy-to-use survey sheets and forms to help target litter prevention action. Participants can build an integrated project to tackle a litter hotspot and use the Local Litter Check to track progress.

To find out more about these initiatives email litter.prevention@epa.nsw.gov.au.

Other forms of water pollution including spills and land-based runoff

Office of Environment and Heritage

  • The NSW Government has Marine Water Quality Objectives to simplify and streamline the consideration of water quality in coastal planning and management. They are intended for communities, local councils, coastal Local Land Services and state agencies to use in natural resource management and land use planning activities.
  • Beachwatch programs provide regular and reliable information on beach water quality at 127 swimming locations in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions, with a further 129 sites monitored in partnership with local councils along the NSW coast. Beachwatch data shows that beach water quality in Sydney has improved dramatically over the last two decades. While rainfall can affect results from year to year, improvements in stormwater and wastewater management have also assisted.


  • Phasing out microplastics in cosmetic products- the EPA is convening an industry working group with the aim to phase out microplastics in cosmetic products by 2016. Microplastics are pieces of plastic that are less than 5mm in diameter. Common sources of microplastics include the breakdown of larger plastic items such as plastic bags and cosmetic products that contain small manufactured plastic beads (microbeads).

Roads and Maritime Services (RMS)

  • RMS removes litter and hazards to navigation from the waters of Sydney Harbour, Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, public beaches and foreshores. On average more than 3,500 cubic meters of rubbish is collected per year.

Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries NSW)

  • NSW oyster farmers actively monitor estuarine water quality under the NSW Shellfish Program to ensure the health of the oysters harvested in priority oyster growing areas. This information is used to tackle issues with estuarine water health that may be detected.
  • Fisheries NSW is working with local Councils, landholders, recreational fishers and others on initiatives to improve water quality in coastal rivers and estuaries:
    • Fish Friendly Farms – aims to improve riparian zone and stock management on farms adjoining fish habitat,
    • floodgate and wetland management – aims to improve tidal flushing of coastal drains and wetlands and reduce the release of acid from acid sulphate soils and black water into estuaries.

Public access to the marine estate

Transport for NSW

  • NSW Boating Now– $70 million over 5 years is available to improve NSW boating facilities and access and to keep waterways safe. The funds are sourced from boating licence and registration fees. Projects will be funded under 11 NSW Regional Boating Plans which have been developed for each of the major coastal waterways in NSW. The plans will identify the actions required to enhance the boating experience across NSW by improving boating safety, boat storage and waterway access.
  • A moorings review is underway to examine ways to improve the effectiveness, management and supply of moorings. The review is in response to an increasing demand for boat storage in coastal areas.
  • A Sydney Harbour Boat Storage Strategy was released in 2014. It sets growth targets for various boat storage arrangements to respond to demand forecasts which indicate an additional 5,000 recreational boats will need to be stored in and around Sydney Harbour by 2021.

Department of Primary Industries (Crown Lands Division)

  • Crown Lands manage 25 coastal harbours, 21 ocean entrances and a range of other maritime infrastructure. Through the Coastal Infrastructure Program, they are investing $51 million to repair and upgrade existing infrastructure to improve access and safety for commercial and community users.
  • Crown Lands is working with local communities to improve management of foreshore land. In the Port Stephens and Forster-Tuncurry areas they are working with local government to develop strategic foreshore Masterplans that will guide the future use and development of Crown and community foreshore land for the benefit of the community.
  • The Sustainable Dredging Strategy aims to improve the accessibility and environmental health of NSW coastal waterways. The approach to dredging, as as funding arrangements, are defined in the strategy document.

Coastal wetland rehabilitation and on-ground environmental action

Office of Environment and Heritage

  • The NSW Environmental Trust's Restoration and Rehabilitation Program ($4m annually) provides grants to protect and enhance the NSW marine estate through a range of on-ground activities including; weed management and revegetation of coastal wetlands, estuaries and dune systems; erosion control and stabilisation of coastal dunes; enhancing natural tidal flows into wetlands; management of acid sulphate soils and restriction of access to sensitive environmental and cultural sites. Projects are led by community groups as well as state and local government organisations, and are typically supported by large numbers of volunteers.
  • Coastal and Estuary Management Grant Programs- support local government by providing $7.5 million per year to manage coastal hazards, such as coastal erosion, to restore degraded coastal habitats and to improve the health of estuaries and coastal areas. Projects include stormwater management, rehabilitation of wetlands, mangroves and sand dunes, plans for longer term management, floodgate management and tidal flushing.

Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries NSW)

  • Habitat Action Grants provide an opportunity for the community and local Councils to protect, restore and rehabilitate aquatic habitats, including coastal wetlands. Over $500,000 is provided for on-ground works from the Recreational Fishing Trust Funds. Activities funded include removal of tidal barriers, weed management, bank erosion protection and stock grazing management.

Department of Primary Industries (Crown Lands Division)

  • The Public Reserve Management Fund provides funds for the development, maintenance and improvement of public reserves across NSW, including within the marine estate. In 2014-15 over $20 million is available for projects across NSW.

Education programs

Department of Primary Industries (Fisheries NSW)

  • Fish Friendly Marinas Program is a joint initiative of the Marina Industries Association of Australia and Fisheries NSW. It is an information campaign and accreditation system focusing on improving marina activities so they have minimal effect on fish habitats. Five NSW marinas are now accredited as Fish Friendly Marinas and more are keen to sign up.


  • A 'Don't be a Tosser!' anti-litter message was launched across NSW in May 2014. It is available for use by councils, the community and other land managers. Messages discourage littering and remind the community about littering penalties, including reporting litterers.

Office of Environment and Heritage

  • The NSW Environmental Trust's Education Grants ($1m annually) support projects that enhance the community's commitment to protect coastal and marine environments. Past projects include: engaging surf lifesaving clubs in the removal of marine debris, educating dog owners on shore and migratory bird habitat protection, promoting sustainable coastal boating and fishing and tracking marine climate change through citizen science.

For more information

For further information, please email contact.us@marine.nsw.gov.au