For more information on what marine parks and sanctuary zones, please visit the About Marine Parks section of our website.
For more information on who we are and our campaign to protect Sydney’s marine life, please visit our About Us section.
Some people think that you can’t visit or fish in marine parks. This isn’t true. In Australia, marine parks are multi-use areas and allow a wide range of activities according to different management zones. This may include activities such as recreational, charter and commercial fishing, as well as marine tourism such as diving, snorkelling, and whale watching.
Santuary zones are the only areas which ban ‘extractive’ activities (i.e. things like fishing or mining which damage or take animals, plants or habitat features out of the zone). However you can still visit these areas to snorkel, dive or sightsee.
All activities within a marine park are regulated through zoning and operational plans developed for each marine park, including commercial and recreational fishing. Commercial and different types of recreational fishing (e.g. spear, netting, lobster pots) may be restricted in different zones: check your local marine park zone guide for details on where and when you can fish in your area.
Fishing is prohibited in all sanctuary zones to give fish and other marine life a place to breed and develop. Most people are already familiar with using GPS coordinates or landmarks to find their fishing spots, and GPS coordinate maps of sanctuary zones are freely available.
The first time you are found fishing in a sanctuary zone, you will be given a formal warning and will be given information on where the sanctuary zones are and how they work. Subsequent offenses may attract an expiation fee of $315. Serious or repeat offenders may face a maximum penalty of $100,000 or imprisonment for two years.
Sanctuary zones are the core conservation areas in marine parks. They protect the feeding, breeding, nursery and resting areas for some of our favourite marine species. Removing or harming any plant, animal or marine product in a sanctuary zone is prohibited, ensuring a high level of conservation.
Sanctuary zones make up only 7% of NSW coastal waters. They take in fragile areas such as seagrass meadows, reefs and mangroves, and protect iconic species such as the eastern blue groper and weedy seadragon. They are diverse places, from the magical Solitary Islands off Coffs Harbour, where you can find Nemo hanging out where the tropical waters of the north meet the temperate waters of NSW, to the cooler waters of Batemans where fur seals and great whites range.
A recent scientific review of 140 studies on 124 marine sanctuaries across 29 countries showed that fish in sanctuary zones were significantly larger and heavier than those in non-sanctuary zones. In addition, the number of different species of fish in the sanctuary zones was significantly higher.
Adequate sanctuary zones in marine parks ensure that marine life has an area that is left untouched and allows them to breed freely without external interference. Sanctuary zones also provide areas for education and research, and are important areas against which to benchmark the environmental health of other marine areas.
Marine parks are designed around a series of principle, the most important of which is CAR (comprehensive, adequate, representative). This basic principle ensures that marine parks adequately protect an example of each habitat type (e.g. seagrass, sandy, or reef) that can be found in each marine park.
The government also considers other criteria in selection of marine protected areas including:
In situations where there is more than one area in equal need of protection, the site that produces the least negative impact to users without compromising conservation values is generally selected.
In NSW, marine parks are established under the 2014 Marine Estate Management Act. The NSW Government is currently developing a Marine Estate Management Strategy which will set policy directions for managing the marine estate as a single continuous system and identify management priorities.
The NSW Marine Estate Management Act 2014 and supporting regulations and proclamations can be found on the NSW marine estate website.
National Parks Association of NSW (NPA) is a not-for-profit organisation that seeks to protect, connect and restore the integrity and diversity of natural systems in NSW and beyond, through national parks, marine sanctuaries and other means.
All rights reserved National Parks Association of NSW Inc 2015
National Parks Association of NSW is a non-government conservation group that seeks to protect, connect and restore the integrity and diversity of natural systems in NSW and beyond, through national parks, marine sanctuaries and other means.