About Cabbage Tree Bay

Cabbage Tree Bay became a part of the National Estate when Manly Beach was put on the Heritage List in 1991. It has played host to swimmers, snorkellers, scuba divers, fishermen, walkers, cyclists, parents and children, residents, visitors … the list is endless.

1990, concerned residents lobbied Council about Cabbage Tree Bay and in August 1994, Council agreed to establish a snorkel park, with objectives including protection of biodiversity, promotion of environmentally friendly passive recreation and encouragement of environmental education and awareness. In 2002, Cabbage Tree Bay was finally established as a “No-Take Reserve”.

The author of “Australian Seashores”, Isobel Bennett, told Council that “Shelly Beach lies within minutes of one of the largest cities in the Southern Hemisphere and this fact makes its natural features, its communities of animals and plants, a unique area not to be found anywhere else in the world so close to a dense population.”

Representatives from various interest groups were invited by the Manly Environment Centre to attend a full day workshop with Ed Hegerl from the Australian Marine Conservation Group and put forward their group’s issues and concerns. The Cabbage Tree Bay Consultative Group, comprising representatives from all the stakeholder groups with varying interests and uses associated within Cabbage Tree Bay, was formed at this meeting.

This Group agreed to work towards implementing the following goals for Cabbage Tree Bay:

  • Conservation
  • Education
  • Safety
  • Reducing the impacts of increasing use.

with a mission statement of “to protect and enhance the marine environment of Cabbage Tree Bay for safe and educational use.”

To implement these goals, the Group raised the necessary funding for a Marine Environment Survey of Cabbage Tree Bay. The funding was provided by International PADI PROJECT A.W.A.R.E (Aquatic World Awareness, Responsibility and Education), Dive Centre Manly and the Department of Land and Water Conservation.

The Cabbage Tree Bay Marine Environment Survey was undertaken by the University of Sydney and compiled by the Manly Environment Centre in 1998, where it was presented by the NSW Fisheries Minister.

The Study benchmarks the goodwill generated by the many people who believed in the need to protect its rich environment and records:

  • 435 species
  • Four of the eleven protected species in NSW: Weedy Seadragon, Elegant Wrasse, Grey Nurse Shark and Black Rock Cod.
  • One semi-protected fish species: Eastern Blue Groper (State Fish Emblem)
  • One threatened population: Little Penguin.


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