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Coastal management

We monitor the quality of our waterways to ensure their long term sustainability for agricultural, environmental and recreational use. Our waterways include:

  • Hunter River
  • Tilligerry Creek
  • Windeyer Creek
  • Port Stephens Waterway.

The following are plans and programs that we are working on to improve the sustainability of our coast:

The  Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park preserves marine habitats, biological diversity and ecological processes. It is the largest marine park in NSW and covers 98,000 hectares.

The marine park zoning map (PDF, 2326.29 KB) and User Guide (PDF, 3078.08 KB) provides information about the current zoning arrangements and management rules in the park.

NSW Marine Park Zoning Maps are available for free on mobile devices:

  • the FishSmart app is available on iOS and Android provides information on recreational fishing in NSW
  • the Avenza Maps app on iOS or Android provides all available DPI fisheries maps

Development approvals

Proposals for development within, or adjacent to, the marine park must be assessed under marine estate and planning legislation, and a marine park permit may be required.


The following activities require a permit from the Department of Primary Industries including:

  • commercial activities
  • collecting for commercial and private aquariums
  • organised fishing competitions including line fishing and spearfishing
  • hovercrafts, airboats and seaplanes
  • cultural resource use
  • organised events including sporting and other activities
  • research

The coast is one of our greatest assets. Our community values the coast for its environmental, social and economic benefits. But there are also many threats which have the potential to impact how we enjoy the coast both now and in the future.

A coastal management program (CMP) sets the long-term strategy for managing our coast. It is a requirement for all NSW councils under the Coastal Management Act 2016. Find out more about our coastal management program.

The Sandy Point / Conroy Park Foreshore Erosion and Drainage Management Plan  was endorsed by Council 12 April 2016 and we are now acting to implement priority one action to protect Conroy Park through sand nourishment.

Consultation process

An outcome of the consultation process was some proposed works would delay more immediate critical works such as the protection of Conroy Park.

The protection of Conroy Park received unanimous support through the community consultation process and is widely acknowledged as requiring urgent action by Council. It was therefore specifically resolved to progress this action straight away.

The proposed priority works endorsed do not reflect one specific overall scheme as presented in the draft plan circulated for comment in October/ November 2015. It was not our expectation to solely endorse one scheme but to identify the most appropriate combination of works when reviewing community feedback and key considerations.


Endorsement of the plan by Council means we acknowledge the investigation and consultation process completed so far and have committed to further investigation of the proposed works.

This endorsement does not mean the immediate start of any specific capital works but allows us to continue with investigations and consultation on lower priority works without delaying the proposed sand nourishment and protection of Conroy Park.

Importantly, the Plan provides confidence that sand nourishment works at Conroy Park will not compromise the ability to implement identified solutions for nearby areas in the future. Investigations and further consultation regarding the remaining priorities will be progressed in due course.

2007 study and report:

The Williams River Erosion Study was commissioned because of community concern regarding riverbank erosion. The study identified the following causes to the erosion:

  • boat usage
  • slow tow activities

The final report was endorsed by NSW Roads and Maritime Authority (RMS). The primary recommendation was to establish a 'No slow tow' zone with in reach 2 for a trial period of 3 years.

2010 study and report:

Erosion rates continued to be monitored in designated locations. The trial period ended in 2010 and an independent review of the data was commissioned to determine the impact these restrictions had on riverbank erosion.

The following is a summary of the 2010 report:

  • all reach zones were showing signs of erosion
  • there is substantial evidence to suggest that erosion in reach 2 has been reduced compared to other reaches
  • photographs suggest that sections of reach 2 are regenerating relative to other reaches
  • continue slow tow restrictions zones so that banks can continue to regenerate
  • results show that rates of erosion will continue and regeneration may be limited outside reach 2 unless slow towing restrictions are applied to reach 1 and 3.

This report was endorsed by Council in September 2010 and the Roads and Maritime Services subsequently extended the time frame of the 'No Slow Tow' through to 2013.

Council received a $100,000 grant from the Environmental Trust in 2010. This grant was to assist landholders to participate in rehabilitation works to help with bank stabilisation.

2011 study and report:

Williams River continued to be monitored until 2011 with new monitoring sites added. The following is a summary of the 2011 report:

  • the 'No Slow Tow' restriction should continue
  • the 'No Slow Tow' restriction should be extended
  • the 'No Wash' restriction should be extended
  • a full river cross-section survey should be undertaken at sites along the Hunter River to establish bank stability
  • the amount of wake boarding and water skiing along the rivers should be investigated
  • determine the sustainability of wake boarding on the rivers
  • a further review of the Williams River is currently being completed by RMS

The foreshore at Tanilba Bay has been eroding over many years and community and Council concerns have grown.  These concerns include vegetation, recreational activities and Koala habitats.

Foreshore erosion at Tanilba Bay has been caused by:

  • strong wind and waves
  • changes in the sediment
  • historical landfilling
  • stormwater drainage

Council obtained funding in 2011 to develop the Tanilba Bay Foreshore Erosion Plan. This plan looked at coastal erosion and suggested different options for consideration.

Stage 1 was completed in 2014. This work was a first for Port Stephens and an example of best practice for foreshore erosion control.

The aim of the Tilligerry Creek Catchment Management Plan is to create a sustainable ecosystem. The plan identifies and investigates the issues within the Tilligerry Creek Catchment and has developed priority recommendations and management actions. This plan was adopted on the 24 February 2009.


  • identify and understand catchment processes and characteristics
  • carry out a landuse survey of the catchment
  • identify all catchment issues that impact the long-term future of natural resources of the catchment
  • determine the magnitude of these issues across the catchment
  • develop priority recommendations and management actions.


The study found that ongoing land use pressures have resulted in impacts on water quality, biodiversity and adversely affected recreational and commercial activities. Recommendations include:

  • repairing and upgrading selected floodgates
  • installing trash racks, wetlands and pollutant traps
  • auditing catchment activities
  • improved management of vegetation along creek banks
  • weed control and revegetation of degraded areas
  • improved management of stock
  • investigation of the revision of certain policies including Local Environmental Plans.