Marine Environment


The Greens NSW believe:

1. In the intrinsic value of the marine environment and the need to protect and conserve it for future generations;

2. In the recognition of Native Title over water, rock, headlands and islands and the rights of Indigenous Australians to exercise management and stewardship over marine resources;

3. In the rights of local communities and community-based groups to participate in planning and management of marine areas;

4. In the creation of a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs);

5. In effective monitoring and evaluation of MPAs, and the collection of scientific data to support the ongoing benefits of MPAs;

6. In effective and genuine public participation in the design and implementation of management plans for MPAs;

7. In sustainable recreational and commercial fishing in marine areas other than no-take sanctuary zones;

8. In sustainable employment-transition programs to assist commercial fishers and people employed in associated industries impacted by changes in marine management practices; and

9. That well managed and enforced marine park areas are the best way to protect our marine ecosystems.


The Greens NSW will work towards:

10. Protecting ecologically significant areas of the marine environment in a system of comprehensive, adequate and representative Marine Protected Areas (MPAs);

11. Ensuring no further loss of aquatic habitat, such as mangrove, saltmarsh and seagrass;

12. Safeguarding against the loss of marine habitats, such as rocky reef, deep ocean reef and island reef through fishing practices such as trawling;

13. Introducing legislated targets of a minimum of 30 per cent of each representative marine ecosystem and bioregion being fully protected in no-take sanctuary zones to ensure that a Comprehensive Adequate and Representative (CAR) regime can be effective across the state;

14. Establishing an independent statutory body to ensure best practice and transparency in all decision making regarding the marine resources of New South Wales including ecosystems, habitat types and species;

15. Establishing a framework for ecosystem management incorporating sustainable fishery assessment and management plans for recreational and commercial fishing;

16. Ensuring all commercially harvested fish stocks are assessed and their sustainable harvest levels determined;

17. Regulating fishing and spear-fishing competitions appropriately to avoid ecosystem damage and unsustainable take;

18. Addressing sources of marine and estuarine pollution such as acid sulphate soils, contaminants, ocean outfalls, marine debris, stormwater runoff, nutrients, pesticides, heavy metals and fertilisers, dog faeces, exfiltration of sewage contaminants from damaged sewerage piping and any other pollutants that contribute to the degradation and loss of function of any marine or coastal ecosystem;

19. Improving land management to reduce impacts on estuarine and marine ecosystems;

20. Restricting moorings in MPAs, particularly over seagrass beds, to existing, approved, permanent moorings;

21. Regulating ballast and bilge waters to prevent the introduction of noxious marine species into marine waters;

22. Working with commercial fishers to establish a system of adequate compensation and/or alternative employment should the creation of a marine park result in loss of earnings;

23. Implementing a comprehensive, adequate and representative system of intertidal protection zones along the coastline;

24. Ensuring that land-based aquaculture development does not occur below 1m of the Australian Height Datum (AHD);

25. Ensuring that ocean-based aquaculture is underpinned by principles of ecologically sustainable development and the species of fish culture are within their natural distribution ranges;

26. Ensuring that all species of ‘fish’ (as defined in the Fisheries Management Act 1994) are locally native to the area in any aquaculture development;

27. Regulating aquaculture ventures and ensuring they are approved only if they can demonstrate a better ecological outcome than from projected ecologically sustainable practices in the wild fishery for that species;

28. Restricting and eventually phasing out of all non-emergency vehicles on beaches, coastal dunes and undeveloped headlands;

29. Educating beach users about safe beach practices, including shark behaviour;

30. Removal of shark meshing operations from beaches and the development of alternative methods of shark attack prevention;

31. Supporting the resourcing of the rapid introduction of recovery plans and threat-abatement plans for all marine threatened species with priority given to those that are listed as ‘critically endangered’ under state legislation or under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999;

32. Ensuring implementation of by-catch avoidance techniques of fishing, as well as requiring the mandatory reporting on the extent and make up of by-catch by commercial fishers;

33. A comprehensive international ban on commercial whaling, the abolition of so-called ‘scientific’ whaling, and an international ban on the sale of whale meat and by-products;

34. Strict regulation of the use of seismic and other explosive devices, sonar equipment, and disruptive mining activities, and the banning of such activities in locations where, and at all time, when, they could cause harm to whale and other marine animal populations;

35. Rapid phasing out of targeted shark fishing, particularly for shark fins, unless it can be demonstrated that a targeted shark species can be harvested at sustainable levels;

36. Maintaining the minimum-approach distance to whales and dolphins; and

37. Recognition that whales and dolphins are intelligent creatures that should not be considered merely as a resource to be conserved and harvested or kept in captivity.

Related Policies

Coastal Management Policy

Wetlands Policy

Biodiversity Policy

National Parks Policy

Tourism Policy


Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

An area designated to protect marine ecosystems, processes, habitats and species, which can contribute to the restoration and replenishment of resources for social, economic and cultural enrichment.1 MPAs were first defined in 1994 by the World Conservation Union (IUCN), as either a marine park, aquatic reserve or marine extension of a national park or nature reserve.

Marine parks

A type of marine protected area which is zoned for multiple use allowing all activities aside from mining. In NSW there are 4 zonings within marine parks. Sanctuary zones are understood to be fully protected waters, whilst other zones allow for recreational and commercial fishing activities.2 In NSW marine parks all fishing activities are regulated by the zoning and operational plans for the park.

Marine sanctuaries (often called 'no-take' zones)

Fully protected waters which allow for diving, snorkelling, swimming and boating but where fishing is prohibited to allow marine life to recover. Marine sanctuaries can form all or part of marine protected areas depending on the zoning allocated to that marine protected area.

Aquatic reserves

These tend to be smaller marine protected areas with just one zoning type. The type of protection varies from reserve to reserve. For example, in some reserves, fishing is permitted, as long as bait is not collected in the reserve. In other places, fishing is prohibited and only diving and observing of marine life is permitted.

Sustainability refers to the practice of Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) principles:

  1. the precautionary principle – if there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation.
  2. inter-generational equity – is about fairness between generations and that the present generation should ensure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment are maintained or enhanced for the benefit of future generations.
  3. intra-generational equity –  is about fairness among the current generation, concerns equity within and between people and nations, and is essential for achieving environmental justice.
  4. conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity – the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity should be a fundamental consideration for the maintenance of healthy, productive and functioning ecosystems.
  5. integration of environmental, economic and social aspects into decision-making – the three pillars of sustainability must support each other simultaneously.
  6. improved valuation, pricing and incentive mechanisms  – that environmental factors should be included in the valuation of assets and services.3
    3. Protection of the Environment Administration Act 1991, Harding, Hendriks and Faruqi 2009