Integration, collaboration and adaptive management- the key to marine estate management in NSW

Clarkson T1, Fairfull S2, Johnstone N2

1DPI Fisheries, NSW Government,

2DPI Fisheries, NSW Government


The greatest threats to the NSW marine estate are pollution, impacts of climate change and disturbance to habitat and species from a range of human uses. Polluted waters, antisocial behaviour and restrictions on access further detracts from our experiences and threatens our ongoing use and appreciation of the marine estate. For the first time we have the means to address environmental, social, cultural and economic threats collectively. Underpinned by a comprehensive statewide threat and risk assessment, the Marine Estate Management Strategy (2018-2028) (Strategy), provides a management framework that integrates nine initiatives and establishes governance arrangements to ensure all levels of government, industry, key stakeholders and community can work collaboratively to achieve the vision of a healthy coast and sea, managed for the greatest wellbeing of community, now and into the future.

Integration of the nine initiatives is critical to success – initiatives cannot operate in isolation. Collaboration between government, industry, key stakeholders and community is also essential to delivering the suite of initiatives. The threats are complex and span multiple jurisdictions, therefore requiring a management approach that is comprehensive and maximises input from the multitude of coast and ocean experts and enthusiasts.

Now in our third year, we need to be adaptive. Monitoring, evaluation and communication of outcomes are our key focus, and acting on lessons learnt, to maximise benefits to the NSW marine estate and community. Integration, collaboration and adaptive management over the ten-year life of the Strategy are contributing to a reduction in threats facing the NSW marine estate.


Tonia is a Senior Marine Estate Manager with NSW Government. She provides leadership in governance and project management for implementation of the Marine Estate Management Strategy (MEMS), to deliver a significant statewide multi-agency program for sustainable management of the NSW coast, estuaries and marine waters.  With over 26 years senior management experience spanning three countries in coastal and marine management, Tonia has specialist knowledge and expertise in integrated coastal zone management, marine planning and ocean renewable energy.  Tonia was co-founder and CEO of Pembrokeshire Coastal Forum in Wales, UK for 14 years, mediating between a wide range of diverse interests from coastal communities through to industry, government, NGO’s and academia, identifying innovative management solutions and providing bespoke business support.  During this time Tonia was also Project Director for Marine Energy Pembrokeshire, and working collaboratively with industry and Welsh Government, she was instrumental in bringing this new sector to Wales.