Labor to protect Sydney Harbour for the enjoyment of future generations with the creation of a Sydney Marine Park


Opposition Leader John Robertson announced today that a NSW Labor Government will protect the jewel in Sydney’s crown – the world renowned Sydney Harbour – by creating a dedicated Sydney Marine Park that will ensure its precious beauty and diversity will be enjoyed by future generations.

Marine parks are declared under NSW legislation, covering certain waters in order to maintain ecological processes, provide for sustainable use of fish and provide opportunities for public enjoyment of those waters.

The Sydney Marine Park will extend from Pittwater to Port Hacking, incorporating Sydney Harbour, Parramatta and Lane Cove Rivers, Middle Harbour, Pittwater, Narrabeen Lakes, Dee Why Lagoon, Botany Bay and Port Hacking. It will also extend three nautical miles off the coast to the limit of State waters.

Mr Robertson and Shadow Environment Minister Luke Foley were joined by a marine scientist and environmentalists on board the historic timber ship, the Yukon, to make the policy announcement on Sydney Harbour.

“Labor will permanently protect one of Australia’s most internationally recognised icons – Sydney Harbour will be declared a marine park to ensure that we continue to benefit from this remarkable natural and economic asset for our city and state,” Mr Robertson said.

“These waters are home to an astonishing array of marine life. Of the major city ports around the world, Sydney’s is the most biologically diverse with 3,000 species documented in Sydney Harbour. Almost triple the number of fish species have been recorded in Sydney Harbour than from the entire coast of the United Kingdom.

“The assumption in the wider community has been that Sydney Harbour is already a protected asset – that has not been the case but Labor will move in government to ensure that it becomes reality.

“We are very lucky to have our city located on one of the world’s greatest natural harbours – Labor will ensure that it remains that way.

“Sydney Harbour will always remain a working harbour. It will remain a well-loved and used recreational resource for the people of Sydney. Families will continue to be able to boat, swim and fish on Sydney Harbour and they will be able to do it in the knowledge that our great harbour is being looked after.

“The establishment of a Sydney Marine Park will ensure that a co-ordinated plan to protect Sydney’s marine environment is delivered by the State Government in consultation with the community.

“With only six months to go until the state election, Labor is committed to building on our strong environmental record - protecting Sydney waterways through marine park status is the missing link in the network of marine parks in our state.”

Shadow Minister for the Environment Luke Foley said; “Under Labor’s policy, for the first time, the NSW Government will take responsibility for the protection of Sydney’s stunning marine environment – that protection cannot come soon enough.

“The pressures on Sydney Harbour are significant and growing. As well as the longer term threat posed by climate change, it is already suffering from contaminants and the inevitable development and pollution associated with a city of 4.8 million people. Invasive species threaten Sydney’s marine life.

“The multiple use Sydney Marine Park will be open to the public and cater for a range of sustainable activities including fishing, boating, dolphin and whale watching, swimming, snorkelling and kayaking.”

To make sure the new park is properly designed and effectively managed Labor will establish an advisory committee consisting of representatives from:

  • marine conservation;
  • marine science;
  • Indigenous communities;
  • Surf Life Saving Clubs;
  • the tourism industry;
  • recreational fishers;
  • scuba divers;
  • commercial fishers; and
  • local councils.

“The committee will develop a long term zoning plan for the park and replace the existing ad hoc approach to the management of the Harbour’s marine environment with one that is science-based,” Mr Foley said.

“The marine park will include sanctuary zones – with protections equivalent to that of a national park - where fishing will not be permitted, leaving the marine life to breed freely and undisturbed, as well as general use zones open to fishing, and recreational fishing havens. The marine park will be good news for both conservation and fishers.”

Mr Robertson said he was inviting Premier Mike Baird to join Labor in offering bipartisan support for the creation of a Sydney Marine Park.

“Mike Baird talks of his love for our ocean and harbour. He should turn talk into action, lift his Government’s moratorium on new marine parks and join Labor in supporting the establishment of a Sydney Marine Park,” Mr Robertson said.

Labor's Sydney Marine Park Map J-peg

Labor's Sydney Marine Park Fact Sheet

  • Sydney Harbour in total is home to 3000 marine species. 586 different species of fish have been recorded in the Harbour. This is triple the number of fish from the entire coast of the United Kingdom.
  • Green Sea Turtles, Little Penguins, Weedy Sea dragons and Humpback Whales all inhabit Sydney Harbour.
  • An elected NSW Labor Government will appoint an advisory committee for the Sydney Marine Park, drawing representatives from marine conservation, recreational fishers, marine science, scuba divers, Aboriginal people, commercial fishers, the tourism industry, surf lifesaving clubs and local councils.
  • The Advisory Committee will consult widely in preparing a zoning plan for the marine park, including a call for public submissions. The draft zoning plan will be delivered to government within twelve months of the declaration of the marine park. The draft zoning plan will then be put out for further public consultation, including public meetings, before a final zoning plan is adopted.
  • The creation of the Sydney Marine Park will allow the NSW Government to properly plan to balance the needs of the ecological wonder that is Sydney Harbour against the needs of Australia’s biggest and most vibrant international city.
  • Key threats include rising sea levels, micro contaminants that flow into the harbour through storm water, unregulated spear fishing, increased boating traffic and invasive species.
  • This will be the first time that the State has developed a comprehensive plan to protect Sydney Harbour and Sydney’s waterways and to spatially plan for allowing nature and a growing city to live side by side.