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Coastal catchments

Catchments are areas, also known as water catchments or regions, that are defined by natural boundaries such as hills and valleys. Human activities affect the health of a region, and it is well known that activities on the land can impact on coastal areas and marine waters, especially estuaries.

Local Land Services

In January 2014, Catchment Management Authorities (CMAs) were incorporated into Local Land Services (LSS) under the NSW Trade & Investment. LLS brings together CMAs, Livestock Health and Pest Authorities and some advisory services of the Department of Primary Industries.

Local Land Services:

  • deliver integrated agricultural industry advice
  • provide biosecurity and natural resource management functions
  • give greater accountability, improved governance and more ownership to landholders
  • administer grants, loans, subsidies etc. for activities
  • engage with the Aboriginal community in relation to the delivery of local land services.

Partnerships with the four coastal LLS Boards improve the synergies between land management and marine estate management across the NSW coast.

There are 11 LLS regions in NSW.

Four of these LLS regions are located along the coast. These are:

All of the 11 Catchment Action Plans (CAPs) that outline strategic regional priorities for sustainably managing the landscape have now been updated and approved. These updated plans take account of the economic, social and environmental changes that have occurred since the last CAPs were prepared five years ago.

The implementation of these CAPs remains the government's priority and is now overseen by the new LLS organisation. The CAPs will play a critical role in planning natural resource management so that LLS can continue to build on the excellent work done by the CMAs.


Estuaries in NSW vary in their shape and size, ranging from large coastal embayments and drowned river valleys to coastal lakes and smaller intermittently open coastal lakes and lagoons.

Estuaries provide important feeding, spawning and nursery sites for many aquatic animals and offer habitat to a diversity of migratory birds and terrestrial species. Additionally, estuaries provide many ecosystem services and are relied on for commercial and cultural activities, tourism and recreation.

Important links:

The coastal zone

The new NSW coastal management framework commenced on 3 April 2018. It was established to manage the coastal environment in an ecologically sustainable way, for the social, cultural and economic well-being of the people of New South Wales

The Coastal Management Act 2016, in combination with the new State Environmental Planning Policy (Coastal Management) 2018, defines the coastal zone, comprising 4 coastal management areas:

  1. coastal wetlands and littoral rainforest area
  2. coastal vulnerability area
  3. coastal environment area
  4. coastal use area.

Further detail can be found at the NSW Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water website.

Water quality

Water quality is predicted on a daily basis for swimming sites in the Sydney, Hunter and Illawarra regions. See the Beachwatch site for more information and to download the daily pollution prediction app for regular updates.

Important links: