Myall Lakes Ramsar site

Myall Lakes Ramsar site was listed in 1999. It consists of Myall Lakes National Park, Corrie Island Nature Reserve, Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve and part of Gir-um-bit National Park. Part of Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park is also within the Ramsar site. The site is located 75 km north of Newcastle on the north coast of NSW, and covers an area of 44,612 hectares.

map of Myall Lakes Ramsar site in NSW

Myall Lakes Ramsar site map

Why was this wetland listed as a Ramsar site?

The Myall Lakes were listed under the Ramsar Convention because they meet the following Ramsar nomination criteria:

Criterion 1 - Representative or unique wetlands

The Myall Lakes wetlands are a relatively unmodified large coastal brackish lake system and are in a near-natural condition. They are one of the two largest brackish-freshwater barrier estuaries in the South East Coast drainage division and are an excellent representative example of this wetland type within the bioregion. They contain a unique co-existence of deep and shallow-water macrophytes and the organic lake-floor mud known as gyttja.

Criterion 2 - Threatened species or ecological communities

The Myall Lakes Ramsar site supports five wetland-dependent threatened species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) or on the IUCN Red List, including the Australasian bittern (Botaurus poiciloptilus), Freycinet's frog (Litoria freycineti), green and golden bell frog (Litoria aurea), green-thighed frog (Litoria brevipalmata) and stuttering frog (Mixophyes balbus). The site also supports Littoral rainforest and coastal vine thickets of eastern Australia, a threatened ecological community under the EPBC Act.

Criterion 3 - Populations of plants and/or animals important for maintaining biodiversity of a particular bioregion

Myall Lakes Ramsar site’s 44,612 ha support a rich biodiversity, containing a range of undisturbed terrestrial vegetation communities and wetland types. The Ramsar site contains over 900 species of plants and more than 400 species of animals. The site regularly supports a substantial number of waterbirds, including 22 migratory species listed under international agreements.

More information

The key document for Myall Lakes Ramsar site is the Ramsar information sheet. It outlines the criteria met by the site, special features and management practices within the site and its catchment.

The Ramsar Convention requires Contracting Parties to maintain the ecological character of their Ramsar-listed wetlands. Australia has developed a detailed framework for describing ecological character. The ecological character description for Myall Lakes Ramsar site provides a comprehensive description of the site’s critical values (components, processes and services) at the time of listing.

A plan of management for Myall Lakes National Park, Little Broughton Island Nature Reserve and Stormpetrel Nature Reserve was adopted in 2002 and amended in 2006. The plan places primary emphasis on the conservation of the natural and cultural values of the national park and nature reserves.

A zoning plan for those parts of the Ramsar site within the Port Stephens–Great Lakes Marine Park commenced in 2007. The zoning plan restricts recreational and commercial fishing activities in some areas and sets aside habitat protection areas.

Actions for addressing the principal threats to the Ramsar site include monitoring the lakes’ water quality for nutrient and sediment loads from the catchment; managing the impacts of recreational activities; controlling aquatic and terrestrial weeds; and monitoring the impacts of climate change on the site’s wetlands and biodiversity.

The Ramsar Managers Network provides a forum for Ramsar site managers in NSW.

Page last updated: 23 January 2014