A new program that will improve marine habitat and water quality in Sydney Harbour is welcomed by the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS).
The $9.1m restoration project will be a partnership between NSW state government agencies, Taronga Conservation Society Australia and the Sydney Institute of Marine Science, which AMCS recently nominated for a global environmental award for its living seawalls initiative. Hundreds of the seawall panels will be installed in different areas of the harbour to form microhabitats for important species like shellfish, mussels and algae.
Kelp forests and seagrass meadows will also be replanted in different areas as part of efforts to encourage the return of species including little penguins, seals, green turtles and the endangered White’s seahorse.
AMCS marine parks campaigner Danielle Ryan said the investment by the NSW government in this project was encouraging and marine conservation could be further enhanced with the creation of a Sydney Marine Park.
“The harbour is at the heart of the enviable Sydney lifestyle so this ambitious project will be wonderful for the communities and visitors who seek to enjoy this natural asset,” said Ms Ryan.
“A marine park which further protected parts of the harbour and Sydney’s coastal areas would compliment this project well, and enhance everything we love about our big blue backyard.
“These areas are coming under more pressure from pollution, inappropriate coastal development and increasing populations. A marine park protected with sanctuaries, where no fishing is allowed, would be like a national park for protecting marine wildlife and habitats from the pressures our city brings.
“It would also help to guarantee the success of this restoration project and significant government investment.”
In 2018, the Coalition government announced a proposal for a Sydney Marine Park with just 2.4% of coastal waters proposed for sanctuary zones. The proposal came to nothing following objections by some stakeholders to even these small sanctuary zones.
The lack of a marine park with substantial sanctuary zones in Sydney’s Hawkesbury bioregion leaves marine life poorly protected, and a significant gap in the NSW marine parks network.