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Bermagui River Coastal Management Program

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.

Project objectives

The project aims to develop a holistic and comprehensive plan to the guide the management of Bermagui River into the future, in accordance with the requirements set out under the new NSW Coastal Management Act 2016. The project aims to:  

  1. Review all available information and reports to provide a current understanding of estuary processes and estuarine ecological health

  2. Review the status of management actions from past studies and determine if incomplete actions still require attention

  3. Identify all issues and pressures currently impacting, or with the potential to impact, Bermagui River and its catchment

  4. Engage with the local community and stakeholders to: a. Identify additional issues affecting the natural values and uses of the estuary not previously recognised; b. Identify opportunities to improve coastal use, access and amenity, and potential future economic activity that will enhance the estuarine ecosystem health; and c. Determine management aspirations for Bermagui River

  5. Propose and evaluate a suite of management actions that take into account previous completed works, analysis of new information and stakeholder feedback

  6. Describe all legislative instruments relevant to management of the Bermagui River study area

  7. Prepare a series of management action maps and tables expressing the information outlined above