The Hunter Estuary extends for 75 kilometres from the Port at Newcastle to the tidal limit at Oakhampton in Maitland. The estuary is a functioning ecosystem that is valued for a wide variety of reasons. Uses of the estuary include habitat to an internationally significant selection of resident and migratory animals, as a water source for agriculture, a recreational waterway, and a commercial resource for a number of industries.
An integrated approach to the management of the Hunter Estuary is requiredto protect and maintain its social, economic and environmental values. Maitland City Council, in association with Newcastle City Council, Port Stephens Council and the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (DECCW) adopted the Estuary Management Study and Plan in October 2009. A 2016 review of the Plan was undertaken in preparation for submission to the Minister for Planning for certification. The 2016 review ensured the Plan met the requirement of the Coastal Protection Act 1979 and the Guidelines for Preparing Coastal Zone Management Plans (2013).
The Estuary Management Plan aims to guide future decision-making regarding short and long-term management of the Hunter Estuary, its foreshores and its broader catchment area.