Marine conservation

The oceans, beaches and estuaries of New South Wales are home to rich marine life, including majestic sea turtles, powerful whales, colourful reef fish, kelp forests and abundant rocky reefs.

Where north meets south

Our unique mix of warm tropical waters from the north and colder southern currents means our waters are home to an enormous range of marine plants and animals. Yet our incredible marine life is under threat. Fishing, pollution, climate change, introduced marine pests, inappropriate coastal development and lack of adequate protection are putting our marine life at risk. We are working to maintain and improve the health of our marine environment.

It's time for a Sydney Marine Park

Sydneysiders love the ocean and our coastal lifestyles. Our blue backyard is central to our way our life, our reputation and economy, yet less than 1% of Sydney’s incredible marine environment is protected. A marine park in the Sydney region will help protect iconic marine species like the Blue Groper and Weedy Sea Dragon and ensure we have fish for the future.

We have formed an alliance with other groups who are calling for the creation of a Sydney Marine Park. You can pledge your support for a Sydney Marine Park on our petition page.

While the need for a marine park in the Sydney region has been established for many years, the current push coincides with a NSW Government review to assess the best ways to enhance marine biodiversity between Newcastle and Shellharbour.

The reason for the creation of a Sydney Marine Park is simple. Our oceans face growing risks from climate change, over-fishing, pollutions and severe storms. We need to protect marine life so we have fish for the future and can continue to enjoy the wonderful coastal lifestyle that makes Sydney a great place to live.

A Sydney Marine Park could take many forms, but fundamentally it is about protecting marine life and doing it in a way that allows all activities to be managed in a sustainable way. It would include areas open to commercial and recreational fishing as well as areas protected in marine sanctuaries.

The alliance is calling on the NSW Government to commit to the establishment of a Sydney Marine Park in 2016 as an outcome of its assessment process and to engage in a community consultation to design and implement a park by 2018. 

You can pledge your support for a Sydney Marine Park on our petition page.

Marine sanctuaries under threat

Marine parks are part of the solution for our marine life and the coastal communities that rely on healthy seas. Marine sanctuaries are the ‘national parks of the sea’; special areas within marine parks that offer protection from extractive activities like fishing and mining. In NSW, less than 7 per cent of our coastal waters are protected in marine sanctuaries.

In March 2013, the NSW Government announced they were removing protections from our marine sanctuaries by officially allowing line fishing from the shore in these precious marine areas. After two years of campaigning and a massive groundswell of community support for our sanctuaries, the Government announced in December 2014 that they would restore protections in 20 of the 30 sanctuary zones in NSW.

Unfortunately, this leaves 10 zones unprotected. We were successful at mobilising thousands of submissions calling on the Government to restore these remaining 10 sites. We are still waiting on a decision and continue to push the Government hard so they no we won't stop until our marine sanctuaries are saved.  

You can also view our stunning flip-book about NSW marine parks and sanctuaries here

My Saltwater Sanctuary - A thousand stories to share

Marine sanctuaries protect our marine environment and lifestyle so that current and future generations can experience our abundant marine life. They are great places to swim, snorkel, fish and dive.

Everyone has their own story to share about why they love our marine environment. We’ve brought some of these together in our film “My Saltwater Sanctuary”, Check out the preview below. To organise a full screening in your local community contact us at

MSS video banner 2.jpg

You can help by volunteering, making a donation and signing up for email updates.


Latest news


15 June 2018


Government halves length of coast protected in marine sanctuaries

The NSW Government has confirmed it permanently scrap top-level environmental protections to 10 of the state’s best marine habitats near Bateman’s Bay, Port Stephens, Coffs Harbour, and Byron Bay.

Marine Conservation

23 February 2018


Report exposes deep divisions in Berejiklian Government over environmental policy

Reports in today’s The Australian confirm deep internal divisions in NSW Government over environmental policy, including land-clearing laws that are the subject of legal action by the Nature Conservation Council.

Forests and wildlifeMarine ConservationClimate and energyNSW ParliamentRivers and wetlandsCoal and gas

31 October, 2017


Marine protection for Sydney region one step closer

Vital protection for the greater Sydney region’s marine environment is one step closer with the release of a statewide Marine Estate Management Strategy, according to the Nature Conservation Council and Australian Marine Conservation Society.

Marine Conservation




Our Environment, Our Future: Policies for the 2015 NSW election and beyond

This document details the environment movement's top policy asks for the 2015 NSW election.


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