POLICY No.10 4/5/91

1. Objectives of this policy

1.1 To advocate a system of marine national parks, marine nature reserves and marine recreation areas as zones within marine and estuarine protected areas (MEPAs, as defined) which, in turn, are areas within an overall framework of managed marine and estuarine waters of NSW whose primary purpose is to protect representative samples of all marine ecosystems.

1.2 To convey to Government ways in which management of the marine environment should be improved.

1.3 To develop guidelines for a system of management plans for those parts of the marine environment which are of high value for ecological conservation.

1.4 To educate the community in the principles of ecological conservation of the marine environment.

2. Definitions

2.1 Managed waters

Areas of marine and estuarine waters where Government has assigned to one or more appropriate agencies the responsibility to exercise active, visible and positive care, control and management.

The Government should assign to the appropriate agency or agencies the responsibility, supported by the necessary statutory authority, to carry out its role.

This role may be to provide for commercial fishing, commercial shipping, effluent disposal, dredging or other damaging or exploitative use; or, on the other hand, for special environmental protection.

If the role is special environmental protection, the area should be declared a marine and estuarine protected area (MEPA) (see Definition 2.2) and further divided into ecological conservation zones as appropriate (see Definitions 2.3, 2.4, 2.5 and 2.6).

Decisions regarding this zoning should be in accordance with Policy 3.1 and the remaining policies of this document.

2.2 Marine and Estuarine Protected Area (MEPA)

An area of intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its waters and associated flora and fauna, which has been reserved by legislation for conservation, scientific, educational, recreational and historic purposes, and because of its intrinsic values.

2.3 Marine National Park (MNP)

An area of marine or estuarine waters, together with its associated shorelines, beaches, rock platforms and islands, containing representative ecosystems or outstanding scenery, wildlife or natural phenomena, reserved for the joint purposes of ecological conservation and appropriate non-exploitative and non-consumptive recreation. All collecting, taking or killing of fish or other organisms, whether animal or plant, living or dead, would be prohibited.

2.4 Marine Nature Reserve (MNR)

An area of marine or estuarine waters, together with its associated shorelines, beaches, rock platforms and islands, containing representative ecosystems or outstanding scenery, wildlife or natural phenomena of special scientific interest, reserved for ecological conservation, scientific, educational and reference area purposes.

2.5 Marine Recreation Area (MRA)

An area of marine or estuarine waters, together with its associated shorelines, beaches, rock platforms and islands, containing natural features worthy of protection but capable of providing opportunities for recreation, including recreational fishing, without unacceptable detriment to the natural environment.

2.6 Marine Ecological Conservation Reserves (MECR)

The three types of area defines as marine national park, marine nature reserve, and marine recreation area will be referred to collectively as marine ecological conservation reserves (MECR)

2.7 Intertidal zone (ITZ)

The zone or strip extending between high and low water marks.

Footnote: It will be observed that, in the definitions above, ITZ is already included by the word 'intertidal' in 2.2, and words 'shorelines and beaches' in 2.3, 2.4 and 2.5.

ITZ is given a separate definition to draw attention to its importance, and to emphasise the reference to ITZ embodied in Policies 3.4.1 and 3.5

3. Policy

3.1 Planning of all NSW marine waters.

The NSW Government should draw up a plan for all the marine waters of the State, comprising the whole of the territorial sea and all estuaries, identifying those waters of the highest value for environmental protection as marine and estuarine protected areas (MEPA).

Within the MEPA thus identified, the Government should further identify areas for zoning as marine ecological conservation reserves (MECR), comprising marine national parks, marine nature reserves, and marine recreation areas.

The remaining waters may be identified in the plan for exploiting or damaging uses, including those listed in Definition 2.1, or set aside for later assessment.

3.2 Selection of MEPAs

The identification and subsequent declaration of MEPAs should be in response both to government initiatives and to proposals from the community.

The management authority should be required to report to the Minister within 6 months of receipt of a proposal, and it report should be made public.

3.3 Selection of MECRs

The identification and subsequent reservation of MECRS within MEPAs should be made utilising the best available scientific and ecological knowledge and expertise, having regard both to the importance of ecological conservation and to the desirability of a balance with appropriate recreation opportunities.

3.4 Decision to reserve MECRs

3.4.1 The decision to reserve MECRs should rest with a Department of Environment and Planning, set up under appropriate legislation.

3.4.2 In reaching its decisions, this Department should consult with the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NSW) and with the Division of Fisheries of the Department of Agriculture.

3.4.3 Marine and estuarine waters of suitable conservation value should together with the associated ITZ, be promptly transferred to the NPWS for gazettal.

3.5 MECRs and Terrestrial National Parks

Waters adjacent to terrestrial national parks, nature reserves and state recreation areas, should be declared MEPAs, within which those parts having high ecological conservation value should be transferred to the NPWS and gazetted as one or other form of MECR according to their respective merits.

The ITZ adjacent to terrestrial national parks, nature reserves and state recreation areas should be transferred to the NPWS and not left in any less protective regime of any other agency.

3.6 Management objectives of MNPs and MNRs

The collection, taking and killing of all species organisms, living or dead, from Marine National Parks and Nature Reserves, except for permitted scientific purposes, should be prohibited.

3.7 Management of waters adjacent to MECRs

Management of waters adjacent to MECRs should be in sympathy with the maintenance of the value of the conservation reserve, and no activities with the potential for adverse impacts should be permitted within such adjacent areas. This refers particularly to the 'downstream effect' of water pollution from an external source.

3.8 Management of land adjacent to MECRs

The protection of marine environment demands that adverse impacts generated by land-based activities be substantially reduced, and in many cases eliminated completely. In addition to long-term moves to improve the water quality in all NSW waters, more immediate action is required in the catchments of waterways entering present or future MEPAs or MECRs. Certain types of development should be prescribed, and the phasing out of some existing activities be mandatory.

3.9 Administration and management of MECRs

MECRs within NSW marine waters should be administered and managed by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, in consultation with the Fisheries Division of the Department of Agriculture and Maritime Services Board.

3.10 Maritime Services Board

The Maritime Services Board should be responsible for the enforcement of boating regulation within MECRs, but those regulation should be determined by the NSW NPWS.

3.11 Commonwealth waters

The Australian Government should draw up a plan for the whole of its territorial sea, within which MECRs or their equivalents so identified should be administered and managed by the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service.

3.12 Plans of Management (POM)

A plan of management for each MECR should be prepared within 3 years of gazettal. It should define permissible activities, no activity with potential for impacts being permitted.

The POM should also give consideration to activities surrounding the MECR, having regard to the danger of water pollution from an external source being carried to the MECR by the downstream effects.

3.13 Community involvement

The community should be involved in all procedures for the preparation and display of draft POM. The adoption and implementation of the final plan should parallel the procedures laid down in Sections 75 and 76 of the National Parks and Wildlife Act of 1974 (as amended) for terrestrial national parks, and so on.

3.14 Legislative amendments

The National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974, as amended) should be further amended to provide for all aspects of marine reserves.

The amendments should include a change to Schedule 7, to ensure the National Parks and Wildlife Advisory Council includes adequate marine biology expertise.

There should also be changes to Sections 5, 8, 34, 44, 47, 50, 56, 57, 72, 75, 80 and other Sections; to parts VII and VIII; and to all other Parts or Sections of the Act as required to enable NPWS to manage MECRs and their waters, ecosystems and associated biota.


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