The NSW government’s proposed Sydney Marine Park includes 25 sites between Newcastle and Wollongong is a significant advance for marine conservation across the Hawkesbury bioregion, including in particular the Sutherland Shire. As a coastal MP and former Environment Minister, I know how important it is to protect and nurture our marine environment and to implement measures that aim to protect and increase our marine biodiversity.

The Towra Point Aquatic Reserve will grow by 349ha, to incorporate additional adjacent Posidonia australis seagrass and shorebird habitat as a special purpose zone. The reserve protects the largest and most diverse wetland complex in the Sydney region. It’s adjacent to the Towra Point Nature Reserve, a wetland of international importance and declared Ramsar site. It’s also an important nursery area for fish and invertebrates, a habitat for migratory seabirds, and rich in marine biodiversity.

Cabbage Tree Creek, a small tidal creek on the southern side of Port Hacking, will be a new 23ha sanctuary zone. The area contains extensive estuarine habitats, including saltmarsh, seagrass and mangroves. It’s a significant area for the local Aboriginal community, as is Towra Point.

An 85ha conservation zone in Royal National Park will go from Martin Head south to the northern end of Garie Beach, including Wattamolla Beach and Wattamolla Lagoon, and 100m seaward.

Some old favourites will be included with no changes to management rules, such as Boat Harbour and Shiprock.

All proposed sites have been carefully analysed by the NSW Marine Estate Management Authority following extensive community consultation. You can provide feedback at: close 27 September.

An information stall will be visiting Cronulla Mall on 15 September from 8 am to 12 noon.