Activities requiring a permit

If you are planning to undertake any of these activities you will need a permit.

Dredging and reclamation

Dredging is generally undertaken in estuaries and rivers to aid navigation, modify water flow, obtain supplies of gravel, sand and other material, and to lay pipelines and cables.

However, dredging may have adverse effects on the aquatic environment. Productive estuarine habitats, such as seagrass beds may be destroyed by the removal of the underlying sediment or degraded by associated turbidity and sedimentation.

Gravel beds in rivers are important as spawning sites for native fish species, such as Macquarie perch, and introduced trout species, and can be destroyed by gravel extraction.

Reclamation involves the draining, infilling or clearing of land to make it suitable for use for urban or rural development. This can be the most damaging activity associated with foreshore development, often completely destroying aquatic habitats. Reclamation can reduce the tidal range of an estuary, or the flow of a river, and this may lead to alteration of both water quality and quantity, such as through siltation, and loss of habitat.

There are instances where NSW DPI will approve dredging and reclamation, such as for essential public navigation and environmental rehabilitation purposes. However, it's unlikely the activity would be allowed if it would:

  • reduce water quality
  • damage or destroy marine vegetation, including mangroves, seagrasses, and wetlands
  • damage or destroy riparian vegetation, gravel beds, reefs, or snags, or interfere with commercial and recreational fishing or aquaculture activities.

If you are planning to dredge or reclaim, download the permit application form.

Harming marine vegetation

Marine vegetation, such as saltmarsh, mangroves, seagrasses, and macroalgae (seaweeds), provides shelter and nursery areas for aquatic animals and a hiding place from predators, and is an essential component of the food chain in estuarine and coastal environments. It also stabilises sediments and shorelines, and protects water quality in estuaries for recreational users.

Seagrasses have suffered dramatic losses around Australia including many sites in NSW. A key cause of seagrass loss has been the erosion of river beds and banks and increased stormwater in coastal catchments leading to elevated sedimentation and turbidity, depriving seagrasses of light.

Dredging and reclamation of shallow estuarine flats, and grazing stock around mangroves and saltmarshes are also contributing to the degradation of marine vegetation.

NSW DPI administers legislation, which protects mangroves, seagrasses and seaweeds on public water land and foreshores. Harming or removal of marine vegetation is generally only permissible by permit.

NSW DPI applies the following policies in relation to harm to marine vegetation:

  • Under most circumstances damage to live seagrass is only permitted for replanting and scientific research purposes.
  • Strapweed (Posidonia australis) seagrass must not be directly or indirectly impacted by any activity or development.
  • The collection of living macroalgae, with the exception of green 'bait weed' (Enteromorpha and Ulva spp), requires a permit from NSW DPI.
  • Removal of marine vegetation, such as mangroves, requires a permit. No removal of marine vegetation will generally be permitted in certain areas, such as SEPP14 wetlands.

The community can help protect marine vegetation by:

  • Minimising erosion and nutrient run-off from land they own or manage. Access tracks and driveways are a major source of sediment in rural residential areas.
  • Avoiding seagrass beds when motoring or anchoring in a boat
    Fencing off frontages to estuaries to control grazing and trampling by stock in saltmarsh and mangrove areas.
  • Fencing off creeks and drainage lines in freshwater areas, and replanting native vegetation to prevent erosion and sediment travelling downstream.

If you are planning to harm marine vegetation, download the permit application form.

Use of explosives and other dangerous substances

Explosives are used to test defence equipment, sink piers, create trenches, destroy derelict ships and for fireworks displays. Electrical devices are sometimes used in freshwater to capture fish for scientific or commercial purposes. Explosives, electrical devices and other dangerous substances, such as poison, can injure and kill fish and impact on their habitat, such as damage aquatic plant beds.

Under the Fisheries Management (General) Regulations (2002), unless authorised by a permit, a person is committing an offence if found using explosive substances, electrical devices or other dangerous substances to take or destroy fish in any waters.

NSW DPI will only approve the use of explosives where it is required for essential community purposes. Permits may be approved in some circumstances for electrical devices and poisons, such as rotenone and chlorine, including use in small farm dams that are dominated by noxious or introduced species.

If you are planning to use explosives or other dangerous substances, download the permit application form.