What is Towra Point Aquatic Reserve?

Towra Point Aquatic Reserve is located on the southern shore of Botany Bay, which includes the land mass connected to Kurnell Peninsula and the tidal area extending from the southern point of Woolooware Bay to the eastern point of Quibray Bay. Since the Kurnell Peninsula sits in the mouth of the Georges River, industrial, residential and other land uses in the catchment influence the ecological character of Towra Point.

The Aquatic Reserve was listed in 1984 as a Wetland of International Importance under the Ramsar Convention. The Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance are on the World Heritage List under UNESCO Convention Concerning the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage. Towra Point Reserve is approximately 140 hectares and is divided into a refuge zone and a sanctuary zone. Today the saltmarshes, mangroves and seagrasses within the reserve are the most extensive in the Sydney region.

Botany Bay’s ecology was modified from the time settlers first arrived. Oil spills, dredging, shoreline modification, land reclamation, land clearing and sand extraction have all had significant impacts on Towra Point, including loss of habitat and species, and alteration of the natural hydrology. Despite these impacts, Towra Point continues to support a high level of biodiversity.

Towra Point view from Towra Point Nature Reserve
Towra Point view of mangroves at Towra Point Nature Reserve
Towra Point mangroves and sea birds

Why is Towra Point Aquatic Reserve important?

Aquatic reserves and sanctuaries are established to conserve the biodiversity of fish and marine vegetation. They protect important fish habitats and provide for the management and protection of threatened species. Reserves provide valuable areas for research and education about populations and ecological communities.

The Towra Point ecosystem contains high biodiversity, hydrological, nutrient cycling, food web and habitat value, and benefits the Georges River catchment by:

  • Providing critical nursery habitat for fish and shellfish
  • Retaining and slowing excess water flows, preventing flooding
  • Filtering and stabilising sand which controls erosion and decelerates pollution contaminants
  • Providing roosting, feeding and nesting sites for migratory bird species
  • Connecting marine communities by transporting detritus, shellfish larvae, water bugs and other organic matter.

Did you know?

More than 230 species of fish and over 200 migratory bird species have been recorded within the aquatic reserve.

View of Sydney City from Towra Point at the mouth of the George River
Towra Point, near the mouth of the Georges River, seabirds on shore
Seabirds at Towra Point, near the mouth of the Georges River

What is allowed at Towra Point Aquatic Reserve?

Within the reserve’s sanctuary zone, you can observe the marine plants and animals by boat with care. Fishing and collecting of marine plants, shellfish and shells is prohibited.

Within the refuge zone, you can take fish by hook and line and use a net that can be lawfully used by a recreational fisher, for example spanner crab nets, hoops or lift nets, hand hauled and dip or scoop nets. No other fishing or collection methods are allowed, including for shellfish, nippers, worms or crustaceans.

Source:  “Georges River Estuary Handbook” (2012), a project of the Lower Georges River Sustainability Initiative