Installing or relocating moorings in NSW marine parks

Marine parks are special places declared to conserve the biological diversity, and maintain ecosystem integrity and ecosystem function, of bioregions in the marine estate.

Moorings are used to secure vessels on navigable waters and may be installed for a variety of uses including private, commercial, club, emergency, or public (courtesy) purposes. Moorings typically consist of a block on the seabed connected to a chain and rope to a surface float to which vessels are attached. Block and chain moorings can damage sensitive habitats such as seagrass, sponge and soft coral communities. A variety of environmentally friendly moorings have been developed that use floating lines that do not contact the seabed to a surface float. Regardless of the design however, all types of moorings interfere with, and can damage, habitats including marine vegetation during their installation and use which is an offence unless relevant permits have been obtained.

Many recreational and commercial fish species live in seagrass habitats for all or part of their life cycle, and loss of seagrass results in loss of fisheries productivity. Damage from mooring apparatus, together with other causes has contributed to numerous threatened species listings under State and Commonwealth legislation including Posidonia seagrass populations, cauliflower soft coral, White’s Seahorse and Posidonia australis seagrass meadows of the Manning-Hawkesbury Ecoregion.

Applying for a permit from Fisheries

The requirement for marine park and fisheries permits exist regardless of the purpose for which a mooring is being installed, and marine park and fisheries permits are in addition to any other form of authorisation required from Transport for NSW or local councils outlined below.

Applicants should be aware that moorings will not be permitted to be installed or relocated in marine park sanctuary zones with the exception of areas designated for that purpose by the marine park management rules.

Applications for approval to harm, damage or interfere with habitat within a marine park, including marine vegetation, associated with the installation or relocation of a mooring must be made on the approved Fisheries and Marine Protected Areas Application Form. Completed application forms must be submitted to

Applications are assessed against a range of criteria and marine park and fisheries permits will not be provided if unacceptable impacts to threatened species or sensitive habitats such as seagrass, sponge and soft corals are identified. All applications will be referred to the Native Title Services Corporation and/or relevant registered native title body corporations under the future acts regime of the Commonwealth Native Title Act 1993. This process will take a minimum of 28 days.

Note that consent to harm, damage or interfere with habitat within a marine park including marine vegetation, will not be provided unless all other necessary approvals including development consent from local councils (where required) and a mooring licence from Transport for NSW have been sought and obtained.

Mooring licence from Transport for NSW

In addition to a marine park permit, a mooring licence from Transport for NSW is required to occupy a mooring in navigable waters in NSW (except the waters of Lord Howe Island, where a separate approval is required from the Lord Howe Island Board). Details of mooring types, licences and fees and applying for a mooring licence are available on the NSW Government website.

Development consent

Development consent from local councils may be required to install moorings within the estuarine waters of certain marine parks. Proponents of private, commercial and club moorings in marine parks should check with their local council to identify any development controls applying to mooring development. Before determining an application for development within a marine park, local councils must refer the application to Fisheries for assessment and concurrence before granting development consent. Marine park and fisheries permit requirements will be addressed through the development application and consent process.

Local council contact details for each marine park are available through the links below:

Marine Park Local Council

Cape Byron Marine Park

There are no private Mooring Areas within the Cape Byron Marine Park


Solitary Islands Marine Park

Coffs Harbour City Council

Lord Howe Island Marine Park

Lord Howe Island Board

Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park

Midcoast Council

Port Stephens Council

Jervis Bay Marine Park

Shoalhaven City Council

Batemans Marine Park

Shoalhaven City Council

Eurobodalla Shire Council

Bega Valley Shire Council

Mooring development does not require development consent from council in the following areas (but a marine park permit from Fisheries is still required):

  • The waters of Solitary Islands Marine Park within the Clarence Valley Council local government area where moorings are permitted without development consent from council in most waterway zones including W1, W2 and W3
  • Waters of Jervis Bay embayment that are outside of the Shoalhaven City Council local government area, and
  • Waters of Lord Howe Island where moorings are exempt development but require separate approval from the Lord Howe Island Board

Who is responsible for applying for marine park and fisheries permits?

The proponents of private, commercial and club moorings in marine parks are responsible for ensuring all permits and approvals are in place prior to installation. They are also responsible for ensuring that all conditions (set out in permits and legislation) are met.

More information

For more information regarding approval requirements in marine parks please contact your local marine park office.