Nature conservation

Parks, reserves and protected areas

Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve - Draft Management Plan Regulation and Implementation Strategy


Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve on Sydney's northern beaches was created in March 2002. It covers about 20 hectares and stretches south from Manly Life Saving Club past Shelly Beach Headland.

The reserve has a range of significant biological, historic and research values. It is representative of exposed rocky shores found in the Sydney area and, together with other aquatic reserves in the region, contributes to the comprehensive and representative protection of the habitats and species of marine invertebrates that live in rocky shores. The rocky intertidal platform includes a comprehensive range of habitat types which provide for significant diversity in the invertebrate population. Approximately 50 different invertebrate species have been recorded at the reserve. Additionally, more than 160 species of fish have been recorded at this location. The reserve also contains, either permanently or irregularly, five fish species listed as endangered or protected under the Fisheries Management Act 1994.

Cabbage Tree Bay is also of very high recreational significance to the local community. It is enjoyed by a range of users for its protected and clean waters, foreshore access, public facilities, surrounding parkland and bushland, and the diverse marine habitats and species living within the reserve. It is very popular with scuba divers, snorkelers and swimmers, surfers, boat users and kayakers, and for general leisure activities. 

In order to maintain and protect the reserve's natural values, the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water NSW (DECCW) had prepared a draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy for the reserve. The management plan aims to ensure the continued protection of species and habitats within the reserve while maintaining current access, minimising user conflict, and enhancing enjoyment of the area's diverse marine environment.

The management objectives for Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve proposed in the draft management plan regulation are to:

  • protect all fish, marine invertebrates and vegetation within the reserve
  • protect and maintain the natural habitats and ecological processes within the reserve and
  • permit the carrying out of sustainable research activities for the purpose of increasing the understanding of marine ecological processes and marine species, and to improve the protection and management of marine environments.

The draft implementation strategy proposes a series of actions to meet these objectives and respond to the major issues affecting the management of reserve. The key responses proposed are to:

  • prohibit fishing and the collection of fish, marine invertebrates and vegetation (whether living or dead) within the reserve
  • restrict certain activities and uses that may interfere with fish, marine invertebrates and vegetation, natural habitats and ecological processes within the reserve
  • promote educational and interpretive activities relating to the reserve
  • ensure compliance with regulations relating to the reserve
  • promote research and monitoring within the reserve and
  • support ongoing cooperative arrangements between the various parties responsible for the day-to-day management of activities within the reserve.

Invitation to comment

Members of the public and community interest groups were invited to comment in writing on the draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy by Friday 30 April 2010. Any submissions made are considered before the regulation is finalised in mid-2010.

About the proposed regulation

The Fisheries Management Act 1994 (the Act) allows management plans for aquatic reserves to be established. Under this Act, a management plan for an aquatic reserve is brought into force by a specific regulation, and then it becomes part of NSW law.

The regulation may make provision for:

  • the objectives of the aquatic reserve
  • the regulation of activities in the aquatic reserve in order to achieve those objectives
  • performance indicators to monitor whether the objectives of the reserve are being achieved
  • reviews of the management plan and
  • any other matter relating to an aquatic reserve that may need to be regulated under the Act.

Background information

Community input that informed development of the draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy

Early input was sought from the local community, stakeholders and reserve users to identify issues relevant to the management of the aquatic reserve. An initial 6-week consultation period was advertised in the local press and then extended for a further 6 weeks due to a limited response. Despite the extension, very few submissions had been received by the closing date in April 2008. An information day was run at the reserve on 12 April 2008 and visitors were encouraged to make a submission.

A total of 117 submissions responded to the various strategies used to elicit public input into the draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy. In general, most submissions focused on issues associated with the marine environment and therefore fell inside the boundaries of the reserve. However, there was some comment on issues related to management of surrounding lands. These are not reported below unless they were deemed to have direct impact on the values or management of the reserve.

In summary, the following were the main issues identified as relating to the management needs of the reserve:

  • boating: need to address safety and environmental impacts
  • compliance and signage: need to address illegal fishing
  • pollution: issues related to stormwater runoff and littering
  • regulation of general use, in particular organised events and scuba activities.

The submissions report is available to download here: Submissions received in detail (08602ctbsubs.pdf, 26KB)

Community working group

A community working group with representatives from local government, relevant government agencies, user groups and the general community was established to assist in the development of the draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy. Manly Council (both management staff and councillors), Industry & Investment NSW, and NSW Maritime are all represented on the working group. User groups represented include those from diving, boating, swimming and surf life saving community groups.

The working group has provided on going input into issues associated with use of the reserve and has assisted in development of the draft management plan and implementation strategy. 

Research on visitor use

The patterns of use and the interaction between users of the reserve were studied over the busy summer period from January to April 2008, to ensure that the draft management plan regulation and implementation strategy were informed by issues associated with use of the reserve. The study included observational and random surveys of reserve users who were asked to identify issues associated with the management of the reserve. Surveys were also sent to residents in the nearby Fairy Bower precinct of Manly.

The full research report is available to download here: Use of Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve (08551ctbuse.pdf, 1217KB)

Public consultation

Public exhibition for this document was from 12 March 2010 to 30 April 2010.

Public consultation for this document has ended.

The format and structure of this publication may have been adapted for web delivery.

Page last updated: 22 January 2015