Sutherland Shire Council has adopted a new plan for Deeban Spit, which is seen as providing an excellent balance between recreational use and environmental protection.
However, it will be up to the state government to decide if and when the plan is implemented as it relates to the proposed Sydney Marine Park, which appears to have been put on hold.
The council, at its meeting on Monday night, unanimously supported the staff report proposal, which includes a map showing where boating and bait collecting would be allowed.
"Boats will be able to nestle up to the eastern side of the spit, which has happened ever since I can remember," said Cr Michael Forshaw, who moved the motion.
The council also asked for a report on re-establishing the Port Hacking Planning and Advisory Committee, which was disbanded by the previous council.
Existing signage on the spit, indicating what is and isn't allowed, will be reviewed.
Council staff were asked to take steps to enforce restrictions on dogs.
Staff were also asked to liaise with Roads and Maritime Services to ensure boating speed limits in the area were enforced.
Sutherland Shire Council will consider a new, watered-down plan for restricting boating and bait collecting at Deeban Spit in Port Hacking.
Council staff have prepared a map of where restrictions would apply following a community survey, which found there was an even split in views on recreational use and environmental protection.
The matter will be considered at the council meeting on Monday night.
The survey was carried out in April and May this year after the council backtracked on an earlier recommendation to the state government that boating and anchoring be banned from Deeban Spit.
"The sheer volume of submissions and strongly worded feedback reveals how passionate the community is about Deeban Spit," the staff report said.
"There is a need to find a balance between existing community recreational expectations and ensuring the features that make this area such a favourite with residents today still exist for future generations to enjoy."
The report said the map was seen "the best balance between the community's desire to protect the environment, while still allowing the traditional family activities associated with the area".
Three zones are proposed.
- "The Green Zone allows motorised craft to enjoy the continued use of nudging onto the spit to enjoy recreational activities. This zone also provides access into Fisherman's Bay for local residents. This zone would see NO CHANGE in permissible use of the area.
- "The Red Zone, west of Fisherman Bay, would be free from any motorised craft and any bait collection (both recreational and commercial). This area contains large patches of seagrasses, susceptible to damage from boating and bait collection. No bait collecting in this zone will potentially make the area a refuge/feeding ground for the migratory shorebirds.
- "The Orange Zone, the intertidal sandflats west of Deeban Spit, should be free from motorised craft (excluding local Maianbar residents accessing their homes). This will provide families with safe areas for recreational activities. In response to the community's feedback, recreational bait collection (nippers), not commercial, would be permitted in the orange zone."
There were 536 responses to the survey.
"For nearly half the respondents, the spit is important for family recreational activities, including fishing, swimming, snorkelling, picnics, pumping nippers, and boating," the report said.
"These residents also expressed a strong sense of belonging to the area.
"For the others, protecting the endangered migratory shorebirds and seagrasses was a priority, as was the significance of the area as a fish nursery for the Port Hacking.
"Overall, the community loves Deeban Spit, and the reasons are varied yet evenly split."
The report said the community survey revealed some confusion and ambiguity about the area being considered.
"Deeban Spit was understood by some to refer primarily to the sand spit, not including the adjacent sand flats," the report said.
"Consideration could be given to identifying a geographical name that refers to the entire mapped area so that if the proposed restrictions proceed, understanding and enforcement will be clearer."
The council's final position on the matter will be conveyed to the NSW Department of Primary Industries, which will make the final decision."