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Coastal bliss: surveys confirm our love of the coast

Group of friends walking along the beach arm in arm.  They are smiling and having fun.  One of them is holding a yellow ball.  They are on the edge of the water, walking in the sand. The sky is blue

It’s official, coastal residents and visitors love our NSW coast!

That’s according to DPI Fisheries surveys of coastal residents, visitors, and youth recently released.

The Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Surveys surveyed over 2100 coastal residents, 850 coastal youths aged 14 to 17, and 1100 coastal visitors in a bid to better understand how they use the coast and its importance to their quality of life.

The surveys found almost two thirds of the coastal residents surveyed visit their local coastal area at least weekly and 43% visiting them daily. In addition, 69% of coastal residents said the coast was “important” to “very important” to their emotional and mental health.

Natalie Gollan, Senior Manager Marine Estate (Monitoring and Evaluation – Community Wellbeing), led the development and rollout of the surveys.

She said the Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Surveys show just how important the coast is to us.

“These surveys show not only how much people are using the coast, but also how important it is to them and their wellbeing.”

“They also reveal what factors (such as litter, climate change and loss of coastal habitats) most impact people’s use and enjoyment of the coast.”

She said the surveys are a first for NSW.

“For the first time, we’ve been able to measure the importance of the coast to people’s wellbeing,” she said.

“With over 4,000 participants surveyed, the Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Surveys provided key insights into how different groups value our coast, and its importance to the community’s wellbeing,” she said.

Ms Gollan said the coastal youth survey was particularly revealing.

“Among the coastal youth surveyed, (participants aged 14 to 17 living within 5 km of the coast) a staggering 76% considered the NSW coast "important" or "very important" to their quality of life.”

“As one young participant put it, "the NSW coast contributes to my life as I go to relax away from the distractions such as school and work. It makes up a part of who I am, and I could not live without the beach/coast."

Ms Gollan said it was pleasing to see both coastal residents and visitors showing a strong sense of responsibility for maintaining a healthy NSW coast.

“An impressive 80% of coastal residents reported “always” disposing of their rubbish appropriately, highlighting their commitment to reducing litter that can harm the coastal environment. Visitors also expressed their desire to pass on a healthy coast to future generations, as one respondent shared, "I want it to remain just as inviting for the future generations of my family."”

Ms Gollan said the surveys also looked at how people are using our coast for recreation.

"The most popular activities respondents reported participating in on the coast were beach visits (61%), picnicking, sightseeing, enjoying coastal cafes (58%) and walking, running (58%)” she said.

“The results of these comprehensive surveys demonstrate the profound significance of a healthy NSW coast in enhancing the quality of life for coastal residents, youth and visitors.”

She said the information collected from these surveys inform the management of our coast into the future.

“Our surveys show the attitudes of people in 7 different regions across our NSW coast, these are relevant to different LGAs.”

“The goal is to incorporate the perspectives of the community into planning and protection strategies for the NSW coast.”

These surveys will be repeated in 2024 and 2027 to track trend in community attitudes towards the NSW coast.

The NSW Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Survey is a DPI Fisheries project funded via the Marine Estate Management Strategy.

You can find summary reports of the NSW Marine Estate Community Wellbeing Surveys by checking out the project page or by clicking on the links below.

You can locate your regional factsheet here.

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