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Coastal Management Program

What is a Coastal Management Program?

The NSW Government has established a new coastal management framework to manage the coastal environment in an ecologically sustainable way, for the social, cultural and economic well-being of the people of New South Wales.

As part of this, Port Stephens Council is required to produce a Coastal Management Program to identify our management for coastal zones:

  • coastal management issues in Port Stephens
  • actions required to address these issues
  • how and when these actions will be implemented
  • cost of the actions
  • proposed cost-sharing arrangements
  • viable funding mechanisms to ensure delivery of the program

Once certified by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, we will implement the actions in this plan. The finalisation of the Port Stephens program is due by December 2021.

Why do we need a Coastal Management Program?

The coast is one of Australia's greatest assets. Major cities, regional centres and villages are continuing to grow on the coast and is also a vital economic zone that supports most of the state's industrial and commercial activity. Our coast also includes a diversity of coastal habitats such as beaches, dunes, coastal heaths, rock pools, nearshore waters and offshore reefs. Many of our native species depend on these habitats and ecosystems, which also include sheltered waterways, wetlands, mangroves, salt marshes, seagrass beds, sandbars and mudflats.

However, the coast is under increasing pressure from development, commercial activity, tourism and recreation. Managing these human activities, while protecting the environmental and social values of the coast, and managing current and future risks, is complex and challenging.

This is made more challenging by the coastal processes that continue to change the coast over time. These natural processes can give rise to a range of potential hazards that can dramatically alter coastal landscapes and may pose risks to the important environmental, economic and social values of the coast.

Climate change is expected to increase the risk from these processes. Recently published science tells us it is not just sea level rise that will impact our coastline. Coastal erosion and flooding in are closely linked with climate variability - which is projected to increase in frequency and intensity. This will ultimately lead to more severe coastal erosion risks in south-east coast Australia. Existing infrastructure such as houses, commercial developments, roads, storm water and sewerage systems along some parts of the coast are at risk from these coastal hazards. With climate change and sea level rise, this risk is projected to grow over time increasing exposure both on the open coast and particularly within low lying parts of estuaries. There are also risks to coastal biodiversity values, and to social values such as cultural heritage, and public access and our enjoyment of beaches and coastal areas

In the face of these environmental and development pressures, we need a modern, integrated framework that is up to the challenge of meeting our current needs and equipping us to face future challenges.

Key documentation

Coastal Management Plan - development stages

1. Community Consultation

Over the next 12 months we will be engaging with our community in order to:

  • Inform community of the Coastal Management Program and what it means for the future of Port Stephens in terms of the physical, social and economic environment.
  • Gain a good perspective of the characteristics that are valued by the Port Stephens community and NSW stakeholders, and how this will dictate threats to management and the priorities for locations in the future.
  • Raise the profile of the CMP and awareness of Coastal Zone to properties in high risk areas.