Port Stephens and Great Lakes Marine Park
The park covers an area of over 98,000 hectares and was declared in 2005. The Park includes offshore waters to the 3 nautical mile limit and extends from Cape Hawke in the north near Forster and south to Birubi Beach at the northern end of Stockton Beach as well as all the estuarine waters of Port Stephens and the Karuah River, the Myall River, Myall and Smiths Lakes.
Maps are available detailing park and the management areas available from the Port Stephens Visitor Information Centre, fishing tackle outlets, online and as a smartphone app.
Download Avenza PDF Maps app and search for "NSW DPI Fisheries"
The park is divided into zones with various levels of fish and habitat protection and possible uses. The zones are Sanctuary Zones, Habitat Zones, General Use Zones and Special Purpose Zones. Each have various levels of protection and how they can be used. Make sure you understand the restrictions and the areas covered as heavy fines of up to $110,000 and confiscation of fish, fishing gear, boats and vehicles can apply if you do the wrong thing.
WHY THE PORT STEPHENS - GREAT LAKES MARINE PARK IS UNIQUE
The marine park has diverse range of habitats, including beaches, seagrass beds, mangroves, saltmarsh and open waters, which all support distinct groups of plants and animals.
The extensive and diverse estuaries and shorelines include remarkable features such as:
• The NSW State's largest drowned river valley (Port Stephens)
• The NSW State's largest brackish barrier lake system (Myall Lakes)
• The NSW State's largest intermittently open and closed lake (Smiths Lake)
• Broughton Island, the state's second largest island, with important habitat for the threatened grey nurse shark and black rockcod
• Cabbage Tree Island (John Gould Nature Reserve), the primary breeding site for the threatened seabird Gould's petrel.
The park provides quality recreational fishing and productive commercial fishing grounds, aquaculture, many popular scuba diving sites, and regionally significant tourism activities such as whale and dolphin watching.
Its diverse marine life includes many dolphin, turtle, fish, invertebrate, seabird and seaweed species, and threatened species such as the Gould's petrel, little tern, grey nurse shark, black rockcod and green turtle.
A number of significant Aboriginal cultural and spiritual sites are within or adjacent to the park and include middens, burial sites and traditional campsites. Aboriginal people's association with the sea and land in the area dates back thousands of years.
Websites and contacts:
Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park
Office of Environment and Heritage
Report pollution and issues relating to marine mammal, reptile and other wildlife.
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Fisheries information line Ph 1300 550 474
Report illegal fishing 24/7 Ph 1800 043 536
NSW Transport, Roads and Maritime Services
Licences, testing, registrations and moorings.
Ph 131 236
Featured image photo by Phillie Casablanca