Fiona McCuaig - 5 March 2024

Fiona McCuaig presented to Council at the Public Access Session on 5 March 2024.

Blue Economy in Eurobodalla Shire Council

BAR BEACH in Narooma to be our first Snorkeling Sanctuary

A presentation by Fiona McCuaig from Nature Coast Marine Group.

The Blue Economy, or ocean economy is a term used to describe the economic activities associated with the oceans and seas. It is a huge opportunity for the Eurobodalla Shire Council to bring more tourism to the region to showcase our amazing and unique marine life.

The vision is to create a Snorkeling Trail on the South Coast that can be promoted far and wide as another great reason to visit our region.

Thank you to the Council for the fantastic job you have done with the accessibility mat and ramp in Narooma. Let’s keep building on this momentum.

Bar Beach is one of the most important beaches in our Shire. There are not many beaches that offer such an easy place to enter the water, find a park easily, swim safety in the calm waters and see a huge variety of fish species and other marine life.

Marine life tourism has huge growth potential. More and more people are bringing their snorkel to Bar Beach, all ages and stages can safely access the water and once they submerge their head are enthralled by the incredible variety of fish species, octopus and crustaceans. It’s another world.

1.  I propose that we make Bar Beach into our First Snorkeling Sanctuary

(Action - Council to please write to NSW Government/ NSW Marine Parks requesting this.)

2.  The erection of a sign at Bar Beach which showcases the marine life that can be seen while snorkelling. Fiona will hold up a large sign that has been designed and printed - during the meeting Tues 5th March.

(Action - approval of this by Council, final design confirmed by Council & Fiona to send proposed location)

3.  Consider the replacement of the net at Bar Beach. The current arrangement of the net being removed for cleaning is not only costly but removes a huge amount of natural habitat that is important for sea horses, octopus, mature and juvenile fish. Fish eggs that important for recreational and commercial fisheries attach here. It’s an important ecosystem that hundreds of people a year enter the water at Bar Beach to see. Replacing the net with one that does not need to be removed is an investment in our Blue Economy.

-     It can be cleaned in-situ (or in individual panels if needed)

-     The owner of the company Eco-Barrier has offered to clean it and also the idea that we Lease the net (opposed to purchase.)

-      It will be well received by the community as there has been years of on-going concern about the removal of the net. Fiona is happy to organise letters of support from the community if needed.

(Action - approval of this by Council/ further cost analysis)

Thank you! Fiona McCuaig

Council's reply

Thank you for taking the time and effort to contribute to the Public Access session on Tuesday 5 March 2024 regarding Bar Beach.

In response to the points you have raised, I would like to offer the following:

Snorkelling Trail

Council’s Tourism Team have been marketing a snorkelling trail in both print and digital media for a number of years.

Here are some links which you may find interesting:

Council has included Bar Beach as a prime spot for snorkelling and this area is included in the Trail.

Bar Beach – the First Snorkelling Sanctuary

Council has discussed the proposal of a Snorkelling Sanctuary with Batemans Marine Parks and they recommended looking into different zonings when the Marine Parks Regulations Review occurs later this year. They indicated this would be the best opportunity to make formal changes to zonings within Batemans Marine Parks.

It was advised a Special Purpose Zone – Snorkelling Sanctuary, would serve the purpose and would allow for continued maintenance of the net. However as indicated
Council would like to improve the current maintenance method to better support protection of marine life in this area. Your group is encouraged to put submissions into the Review of the Marine Park.

Installation of Sign

The idea of information signage at Bar Beach would need to be considered by Council, including a budget for manufacture and installation. Thank you for developing a draft - your research and design efforts are greatly appreciated. We will investigate this further and come back to you. Did you have a particular location in mind? If so, please forward images to help our next steps. Kellee Pisanos will be your contact for this –

Replacement of Net at Bar Beach

The Narooma safety net, in place since the early 1990’s, is comprised of marine-grade nylon which requires periodic removal to clean it of marine debris. The net is typically removed at the end of April for cleaning and is reinstated by the October long weekend for the swimming season.

Permits are required from DPI – Fisheries/Marine Park for removal and replacement of the shark net, as it is in a Habitat Conservation Zone within Batemans Marine Park.  Council’s current permit expires in September 2024, and it is not known if it will be renewed as the current maintenance system is not favourable to marine wildlife.

To investigate more ecologically friendly options and still retain a shark net to satisfy the community, Council staff met with Bega Valley Shire Council (BVSC) and Marine Parks personnel in November 2023, to discuss the new net installed by BVSC at Bermagui.

The Bermagui net is anchored between a rock wall and a natural rock shelf (the Narooma net requires a corner and two sides), is not located in a Marine Park, and still requires cleaning. It is understood that the cleaning process involves a high pressure water blaster to remove the marine build up off the net in-situ; this removed material would then remain in the water. The Marine Park representatives in attendance at the meeting expressed mixed feelings about this process.

Further discussions are being held with Marine Parks to investigate different options for providing a net or device capable of providing habitat for seahorses and also protection to swimmers.

Any replacement device or net would require approvals, permits to install, and a new budgetary allocation to fund it.  Once this information is obtained, it will be presented to Council for consideration.

Once again, thank you for your contribution to this meeting.