Cabbage Tree Bay

Cabbage Tree Bay is recognised as being of special value. The small north facing Bay, with its north and west facing beaches, is extremely popular due to its protected tranquillity, ease of foreshore access, rocky outcrops, parkland and bushland as well as the diversity of marine habitats and species living within the Bay. 

Strong community feeling for the protection of CabbageTreeBay resulted in a request to Manly Council in 1990 to protect the bay from exploitation and essentially being "loved to death". This was followed by the ManlyOceanBeach listing on the National Estate in 1991. The area has been a nominated Intertidal Protection Area since 1993

In 1995 Manly Council formed the Cabbage Tree Bay Consultative Group to advise Council on matters relating to the Bay’s conservation. Manly Council, through the consultative group identified the need for effective and sustainable management of the Bay's resources and its unique marine and terrestrial environment.  In mid 1999, external consultants were commissioned to develop a comprehensive management plan for the area including extensive community and stakeholder input throughout the development of the plan. 

The Cabbage Tree Bay Management Plan extends to areas beyond the care and control of Manly Council and aimed to provide a comprehensive approach to the identification and resolution of issues affecting the study area, including those that relate to the land-water interface. It was also to provide an opportunity to bring together the various government agencies involved and through a whole of government approach identify strategies and actions for the future management of the area.  

The process in preparing the Plan involved extensive consultation, including establishing a steering committee to guide development of the plan and a working group including representatives of the diverse mix of people who know and use the area. 

Many issues, including some conflicts, were identified between different user groups.  The ongoing difficulty in resolving the significant issues in relation to the biodiversity and management of the aquatic component of the study area resulted in the working group agreeing to participate in a conflict resolution/mediation session attended by representatives of the conservation, fishing and commerce groups. 

The user-friendly Cabbage Tree Management Plan was adopted by Council in 2000 making way for a collaborative approach to implementation. One of the major outcomes from the Management planning process was the NSW Fisheries designation of CabbageTreeBay as a 'No Take' Aquatic Reserve in March 2002. Prior to the declaration of the Aquatic Reserve, the area was considered to be under pressure from a number of user groups and activities namely commercial and recreational fishing (including spearfishing), boating, the removal of aquatic life by divers and collectors and from beach combing. However, at this time little scientific information was available on the marine environment within CabbageTreeBay. 

Cabbage Tree Bay ‘No-Take’ Aquatic Reserve

Cabbage Tree Bay was declared a ‘No Take’ Aquatic Reserve on 31 March 2002. Its declaration will help to conserve the Bays natural aquatic habitats, processes and unique biodiversity for our future enjoyment, understanding and sustainable use. Being a 'No Take' Aquatic Reserve means that only passive-use activities are permitted, you are not permitted to fish by any method, mine, destroy marine life or collect dead or alive organisms including empty shells. 

The small but highly visible Cabbage Tree Bay ‘No Take’ Aquatic Reserve will provide a focus for marine awareness and ecotourism amongst residents and visitors who come to Manly each year. 

Council has elected to monitor the Bay's recovery over time due to the little information available on the effectiveness of Aquatic Reserves in protecting aquatic ecosystems, habitats and species. The surveys and analysis will also contribute to broader scientific discussions regarding the effectiveness of such reserves. The general aim of the surveys is to assess the effectiveness of the Aquatic Reserve's designation. This can not be achieved through one year of sampling, it is recommended that the surveys of both the Aquatic Reserve and selected control sites be extended.  

Results from the initial years of surveying are highly encouraging and suggest that CabbageTreeBay: 

  • has a diversity of habitat 
  • contains relatively high numbers of fish that would otherwise be subjected to harvesting; and 
  • has a good larval supply of fishes. 

These are all important attributes for the selection and maintenance of an Aquatic Reserve. 

Use within Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve

In January 2008 the Minister for the Environment and Climate Change announced the intention to develop a management plan for Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve for areas below the mean high water mark. 

In order for the aquatic management plan to properly addresses issues associated with use within the Reserve a study has been undertaken by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change (DECC) to describe patterns of use and the interaction between users within an area of growing user pressure. The results and trends determined by this study, as described within the attached report, will assist in the development of a management plan for Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve. 

The Management Plan will ensure the continuing protection of species and habitats within Cabbage Tree Bay whilst maintaining current user access, minimising user conflict and enhancing enjoyment of the diverse marine environment in existence at Cabbage Tree Bay. A key issue that has been identified in the results of this study is the intersection of use between boat users and swimmers/snorkelers in some areas of the reserve. A relatively large level of prohibited activity was also observed and this is an issue of considerable concern to both DECC and the local community. In addition, awareness of the reserve and its regulations was found to differ between local users and tourists to the area. These issues will be addressed in the management plan developed for Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve.  

Cabbage Tree Bay Management Planning Process

Following the 2007/08 Summer period Council, with the support of NSW DECC, initiated the development of a Management Plan for the Aquatic Reserve in order to better manage human activities occurring within the Reserve in relation to user safety and habitat protection. 

This is the first Management Plan developed for an Aquatic Reserve in NSW. 

DECC established a Community and Stakeholder Working Group consisting of representatives from Manly Council, NSW Department of Primary Industries, NSW Maritime, relevant user groups including diving, boating, surf life saving, swimming and snorkelling and the general community after a public Expression of Interest process. The Working Group provides input into issues associated with the use of the Reserve and provides advice on management actions to address these issues. 

Concurrently, advertisements inviting submissions on issues associated with the management and use of the Reserve were released over a 6 week period.  A review of public submissions was undertaken by DECC and the Community and Stakeholder Working Group and have been utilised in the development of the draft management plan. 

DECC, with the assistance of Dive Centre Manly, Prodive Manly and the Eco Divers organisation, has prepared a detailed map of the underlying marine habitats (see link below) within Cabbage Tree Bay Aquatic Reserve.  This map has been utilised to determine existing habitats within the Reserve and to assist in determining appropriate placement of proposed moorings and boundary marker buoys. 

The draft management strategy and draft management plan regulation will open for public comment over a six week period (yet to be determined).  The draft management strategy provides a plain English interpretation of the draft regulation and a 5 year work plan to carry out management actions that do not require regulation. 

At the end of the public comment and submission period, DECC will review the submissions on the draft management strategy and plan in association with the Community and Stakeholder Working Group and consider changes where appropriate, before providing advice to the Minister on the approval of the strategy and plan. Implementation of the management plan and its associated regulation will occur after Minister’s approval.  The final management strategy and plan will be released to the public. Council encourages public involvement in the management planning process.

 pdf format CTB marine habitat map.pdf (5.89 MB) 

Eco-SculptureWalk: Cabbage Tree Bay (Shelly Beach)

Eco-Sculpture Walk Cabbage Tree Bay (Shelly Beach)

The Cabbage Tree Bay Eco-Sculpture Walk has been developed to give visitors to the area an insight into Cabbage Tree Bay's unique marine life, plants, animals, history and attractions.

The sculptures are accompanied by plaques and an interpretive brochure for those seeking more information about each of the sculptures and the Bay. The Eco-sculpture walk is designed to be suitable for the visually impaired and is accessible for people with a disability.

To get there walk along Marine Parade from either Manly or Shelly Beach. The sculptures are located at the Shelly Beach end of the walkway. Brochures and further information are available from the Manly Visitor Information Centre or the Manly Environment Centre.