Hunter Estuary Coastal Management Program

Project Status

Stage 1 completed
March 2023
Stage 2
May 2024
Stage 3
November 2024
Stage 4 - plan finished, adopted and provided to Minister for certification
June 2025

The iconic Hunter River passes through many towns and is a community focal point for aesthetics, recreation and livelihoods. The Hunter River Estuary, floodplain, wetlands and tributary catchments are of cultural significance and important to indigenous communities.

Why are we doing this?

The Hunter Estuary is one of the largest and most complex estuaries in NSW.  It is subject to a range of pressures from mining, agriculture, industry and urbanisation while providing a home to internationally important shorebirds and wetlands. 

The Estuary provides ecosystem services that support community economic, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing whilst also being sensitive to such risks as floods and sea level rise.

Despite the prominence of the Hunter Estuary, the health of the system is rated as fair to poor with recent studies ranking water quality in the estuary as 124/160 in NSW.

What are we doing?

The process of developing and implementing a Coastal Management Program (CMP) is an important strategic opportunity for Councils and public authorities to work together in an 'Estuary Alliance' to achieve shared objectives and overcome key constraints to coordinated, effective and sustainable management of the Hunter River Estuary for the social, cultural and economic wellbeing of the community both now, and into the future.

The Hunter River EstuaryA map of the Hunter Estuary

Our role

Maitland City Council is leading the development of the CMP and along with City of Newcastle, Port Stephens Council, Dungog Shire Council and Local Land Services have been successful in achieving a Coast and Estuary Grant from the NSW State Government.

We will be working with 27 stakeholder groups across 5 Council areas. 

The development of the CMP will create a building block for all stakeholders within the Hunter Estuary to work together into implementing a functional, healthy vibrant Hunter River.

Stage 1 - Scoping Study

The Hunter Estuary scoping study is the first stage of preparing a CMP. This document identifies the focus of the new CMP and guides the development of key priority projects for the management of the Hunter Estuary.