June 19 - 25, 2022: Issue 543


Record Investment To Future-Proof NSW Marine Estate + New Rules In Line For Recreational Fishers

On Friday June 17, 2022 the  NSW Government stated it has committed more than $180 million in new funding until 2028 to continue to fund projects that protect the state’s iconic coast and estuaries and support stronger coastal communities and industries, building on the $105 million committed to date.

Treasurer Matt Kean said the funding for the final six years of the 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy in the 2022-23 Budget reaffirms the Government’s commitment to investing in the health and resilience of one of NSW’s most significant natural resources.

“The value of the marine estate to the NSW economy is significant, contributing over $15 billion per annum and 2.5 per cent of all employment in NSW," Mr Kean said.

“A healthy and productive marine estate is critical to the wellbeing and prosperity of NSW, which is why the NSW Government has invested a record amount in the Strategy.

“This timely, long-term record level of investment in the NSW marine estate will build on the progress of the first four years of the Strategy, which have already delivered strong outcomes and received state, national and international acclaim.”

Minister for Agriculture Dugald Saunders said many coastal industries are still overcoming the effects of recent natural disasters and this funding will help coastal businesses to recover, boost their productivity and strengthen regional employment.

"In NSW, 85 per cent of people live within 50km of the coast, so it vital that we are investing in repairing and sustaining this natural resource to protect the business, recreational and cultural opportunities that the NSW community depends on,” Mr Saunders said.

“The Marine Estate Management Strategy will address the main threats to our state’s beautiful coastline through projects such as reef restoration, riverbank stabilisation, researching fertiliser use and ways to reduce sediment runoff from farms and reviewing jetty designs.

“These projects are helping to improve water quality by reducing pollution, ensure our coastal habitats can thrive under the effects of climate change and increase Aboriginal people’s role in protecting cultural values and managing Sea Country.

“Better water quality also plays a crucial role in improving fish habitats and breeding grounds, helping to boost the state’s $3.4 billion strong recreational fishing industry.”

Minister for Environment James Griffin said this investment demonstrates the NSW Government’s commitment to ensuring the NSW marine estate is supported and sustainable for generations to come.

"This significant investment by the NSW Government will ensure that we can continue to protect and conserve our marine system, which is cherished by people right along the coast," Mr Griffin said.

"A healthy community and economy needs a healthy ocean, and all of us have a role to play as responsible stewards of our oceans.”

For more information about the range of projects and key achievements within the Marine Estate Management Strategy, visit www.marine.nsw.gov.au/strategy-implementation.

The ten-year Marine Estate Management Strategy is in its fourth year, with $30.7 million allocated to support the delivery of over 100 projects in 2021 to 2022.

The Strategy delivers outcomes through the following initiatives:

  1. Improving water quality and reducing litter
  2. Delivering healthy coastal habitats with sustainable use and development
  3. Planning for climate change
  4. Protecting the Aboriginal cultural values of the marine estate
  5. Reducing impacts on threatened and protected species
  6. Ensuring sustainable fishing and aquaculture
  7. Enabling safe and sustainable boating
  8. Enhancing social, cultural and economic benefits
  9. Delivering effective governance

The Strategy Implementation Plan 2021-22 (PDF, 11744.94 KB) outlines:

  • the projects underway
  • the agencies and partners delivering those projects
  • when and where the projects will be delivered.

Under Initiative 2 - 'Delivering healthy coastal habitats with sustainable use and development', Estuarine fish monitoring has been completed in Pittwater as part of the 2021-22 Implementation Plan. Locals may have also seen new signage being placed at strategic points around the estuary under NSW DPI initiatives. This one, as an example, at Sand Point, Palm Beach, was in place for the Summer of 2021/2022:

Completed under the 2021-22 Implementation Plan were a number of Case Studies including one focussed on Blue Carbon and mangroves and saltmarshes, which would be of interest to many residents.

The Plan states of this:


A statewide first pass prioritisation for Blue Carbon and co-benefits in NSW.


The tidal conditions in which mangroves and saltmarshes thrive, enable the storage of carbon in the oxygen depleted sediments in their above-ground and below ground biomass. High rates of carbon sequestration and storage in these ecosystems has led to scientific and policy interest in the role blue carbon has in climate change mitigation efforts. A methodology for assessing activities that improve blue carbon sequestration by reintroducing tidal flows to landscapes where they have previously been obstructed is being developed by the Australian Government. Once implemented, the Emissions Reduction Fund will incentivise reintroducing tidal flows to restore and manage mangrove and saltmarsh habitats.

DPI Fisheries collaborated with experts from the University of Wollongong who undertook a pixel-based approach to identify blue carbon areas along the NSW coast where carbon storage, preservation, permanence and generation are relatively high. In addition, a database of fish passage barriers was used to identify 78 priority structures that truncate tidal flows.

It was found that the broad coastal floodplains of northern NSW have 5,146 ha (~51 km2) of former tidal plains upstream of drainage and flood mitigation structures that form barriers. Whilst 928 ha occurs on the South Coast. Cumulatively these barriers preclude tidal flows from ~61 km2 of former mangrove and saltmarsh habitat, approximately 31% of the existing intertidal macrophyte estate in NSW.

Reintroducing tidal flows into these areas aligns with the Australian Government’s proposed methodology and could provide commercial blue carbon opportunities. This data set is key to maximise blue carbon opportunities in NSW and highlights an urgent need to audit the position, function and condition of engineered tidal barrier structures to improve decision-making. It also informs the decision making that will be required as sea-level rise compromises the functionality of existing engineered structures with decisions to maintain or upgrade these structures costed against the lost blue carbon and other co-benefits (such as water quality improvements, biodiversity values, foreshore protection, fisheries production, social and cultural values) that could be realised with removal of tidal impediments, and aid ecosystem restoration.


Preparation of A Coastal Wetland Restoration First Pass Prioritisation for Blue Carbon and Co-benefits in NSW is a first step into investigating blue carbon opportunities in NSW. The prioritisation links with the delivery of several MEMS actions, in particular, the development of estuary specific marine vegetation management strategies and helps the prioritisation and undertaking of on ground coastal wetland rehabilitation projects that could involve the restoration of natural hydrology.


DPI-Fisheries in collaboration with the University of Wollongong.

An updated Strategy Implementation Plan will be published later in 2022 to outline the projects that will be implemented in future years.

New Rules In Line For Recreational Fishers

In related news, also on Friday June 17th, 2022 the NSW Government announced it is introducing new recreational fishing rules for Rock Lobster and Dusky Flathead in NSW, which will see the bag limit for lobsters increase.

The new rules were developed with the Recreational Fishing NSW Advisory Council and follow a comprehensive community consultation process, which showed strong support for changes related to both species, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) Deputy Director General Sean Sloan, said today.

“This is an exciting development in the recreational fishing space for Rock Lobster in NSW, with the combined bag limit set to increase from two to three per person,” Mr Sloan said.

“The changes in the bag limit for Rock Lobster are a result of effective research and management controls in NSW over the past few decades, with recreational fishers as well as commercial fishers helping to enable the population of Eastern Rock Lobster to recover to a healthy level.”

Ongoing stock assessment modelling by DPI scientists demonstrates an increase in abundance of Eastern Rock Lobster within the legal-size range (104mm to 180mm) since the mid-1990s, when the stock was in a depleted state.

For commercial fishers, the Total Allowable Commercial Catch (TACC) for Eastern Rock Lobster has been increased to the current level of 180 tonnes per year, using comprehensive data monitoring programs and careful management through the Total Allowable Catch setting process to improve the health of the fishery.

“These changes in the Lobster fishery are a good demonstration of the benefits of the partnership and investments made by Government and commercial fishers in the science that have led to effective management,” Mr Sloan said.

“A new harvest strategy has been adopted for the Lobster fishery to guide decision-making in the future and support equitable catch sharing between the fishing sectors, and DPI will continue to monitor and assess the fishery’s ongoing health.”

Mr Sloan also said DPI has answered the ongoing calls from the fishing community for rule changes to Dusky Flathead, to help boost the stock of bigger fish and ultimately provide better fishing opportunities.

“We have changed the bag limit of Dusky Flathead per person from 10 to 5 and introduced a ‘slot limit’ of 36 to 70cm for recreational fishers,” Mr Sloan said.

“These proactive changes are designed to increase the number of spawning fish and boost egg production, which will in turn improve fishing opportunities.”

Professor Johann Bell, Chair of the Recreational Fishing Ministerial Advisory Council, said the changes will provide for greater protection of large and reproductively important female fish.

“A new maximum size limit and a lower bag limit will promote a more natural age structure (comprising more ‘older’ fish), which is expected to increase stock resilience over time,” Professor Bell said.

“There have been no changes to recreational fishing rules for Dusky Flathead since 2001. Maximum size limits for Dusky Flathead have been widely accepted in Queensland and Victoria where their current limits have been in place since 2009 and 2012, respectively, and it’s fantastic to see NSW adopt these new fishing rules which will benefit Dusky Flathead and ultimately all recreational fishers in NSW.”

Mr Sloan said the changes to the flathead rules will improve fishing and tourism opportunities even further in recreational fishing havens, such as Lake Macquarie and St Georges Basin, which are well known trophy flathead fisheries, as well as increasing recreational fishing opportunities all along our coastline.

“Rock Lobster and Dusky Flathead are important species for all of our fishing sectors and consumers, and are highly sought after,” Mr Sloan said.

“These changes will be implemented on 1 August and enable fishers to hit the water and fish knowing these species are in good hands.”

For more information on these new rules, visit  www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fishing/recreational/fishing-rules-and-regs

A Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus). Fairy Bower, Manly. Photo: Richard Lang.

Dusky Flathead (Platycephalus fuscus) are found in estuaries and coastal bays, from Cairns in Queensland to the Gippsland Lakes in Victoria. They occur over sand, mud, gravel and seagrass and can inhabit estuarine waters up to the tidal limit. They are more commonly caught during the summer months.

Colour varies from sandy with brown spots and blotches to dark brown/black with white spots. They have a distinctive black spot on their caudal fins. Dark bars are often visible across the rear of the body. The preopercular spines on each side of the head are very sharp and should be avoided when handling the fish.