The Bermagui River is regarded one of the premiere estuaries in the Bega Valley Shire. The natural amenity and significant ecological values of the estuary including its clear waters and high tidal flows, extensive saltmarsh, mangrove and seagrass communities are an important asset to the coastal township, with the estuary representing a key attraction for local residents and tourists that visit Bermagui annually.
It is among the most popular estuaries within the Bega Valley for recreation and is also commercially important to oyster aquaculture and marina operations at the Port of Bermagui situated near the ocean entrance. The estuary is one of 30 recreational fishing havens in NSW with all commercial fishing prohibited since 2002. Maintaining and enhancing the ecological health of the estuary, including good water quality and protecting aquatic habitats important to fish and other fauna, is vital to sustaining the many recreational and socio-economic opportunities enjoyed by the community.
However, without appropriate management controls, pressures such as catchment development, pollution and land-use disturbance pose an ongoing threat to the ecological condition of the estuary. A number of environmental and natural resource management studies have addressed specific issues within the estuary and broader catchment, however, to date there has not been a formal management plan in place for the estuary, foreshore or catchment.
Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) and Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) have partnered with Elgin Associates to prepare a Coastal Management Program (CMP) for the Bermagui River in accordance with requirements set out in new NSW Coastal Management Reforms to guide the future management of estuary. The project commenced in November 2016 with anticipated completion date in March 2018.