Conservation groups have cautiously welcomed the Baird government’s decision to restore full protection to 21 of the state’s marine sanctuaries, but are troubled that the level of protection for 13 others will be subject to further review.


“Today the Baird government has shown it can’t decide whether it genuinely supports marine protection or not,” said Nature Conservation Council CEO Kate Smolski.

“While some areas have thankfully been spared, overall we have less protection for our marine life now than when this government came in to power. The scientific evidence is overwhelming that sanctuary zones are essential to protect our marine life and important assets for coastal communities."

“Science from NSW shows marine sanctuaries have many more fish and bigger mud crabs than unprotected neighbouring sites. Marine sanctuaries are an investment in the health of our seas.”

National Parks Association of NSW CEO Kevin Evans: “More than 93 per cent of the community supports marine sanctuaries, including more than 90 per cent of people who fish. Protecting sanctuaries is a win for marine life, local residents and coastal economies.

“It is frustrating that this government is continuing to play politics with this important issue. Why is the NSW Government taking us backwards whilst the rest of the world is increasing their investment in marine protection?”

Mr Evans said marine sanctuaries were equivalent to national parks and given the increasing pressure on our marine environment now is not the time to be reducing protection.”

“Marine sanctuaries protect some of our most important areas and have created flourishing local tourism industries around Coffs Harbour, Cape Byron, Jervis Bay and Batemans Bay.”

Australian Marine Conservation Society Director Darren Kindleysides: “It is now well established that great conservation, tourism and great fishing go hand in hand in our marine parks.

“While we cautiously await the government review of the 13 remaining sanctuaries, I am confident full protection will be restored if the government listens to the science and community.”

In March 2013, the government caved in to pressure from the Shooters and Fishers Party to allow recreational line fishing from the shore in protected marine sanctuaries. 

The decision was to be assessed after six months. Today’s announcement is the long-awaited result of that assessment. Twenty-five marine sanctuary zones will be restored and 10 will be considered for reduced protection through a process of community consultation in 2015.


  • NSW has six multiple-use marine parks (Cape Byron, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens-Great Lakes, Jervis Bay, Batemans and Lord Howe). Marine parks allow for different uses in different zones, the majority allow recreational fishing and some types of commercial fishing.
  • Only 7% of NSW coastal waters are protected in no-take marine sanctuaries.

Media Contact: James Tremain on 0419 272 254

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