QSwharfth.jpg (4017 bytes)Manly Quarantine Station

Declaration of Critical Habitat for Little Penguins


(Click here for suggestions about points to make)

The Little Penguin colony living on Manly's Harbour foreshores is the only mainland breeding population of these little birds anywhere in Australia. It has officially been recognised as an Endangered Population since 1997, and a Recovery Plan has been in place since 2000, but further action is needed to ensure its survival.

On 19 April 2002, Minister for the Environment The Hon. Bob Debus released for public comment, a report on the options for declaring 'Critical Habitat' to help protect this important Manly icon. This report does not automatically mean that Critical Habitat will be declared. It is important that those who care about the future of our Little Penguins make a submission in support of Critical Habitat being declared.

QSpenguin.jpg (13625 bytes)
Little Penguin pictured in a display prepared
by National Parks and Wildlife Service and
photographed by J. Bennett
during the Open Day 6th June, 1999

As the April report from the National Parks and Wildlife Service shows, Manly's Little Penguin population is at best "a static population in the absence of additional protection measures." It is "highly susceptible to single predation events and habitat decline."

It is important that Regulations are introduced so that the Critical Habitat declared can effectively protect the Little Penguin population against these major threats. Commercial and recreational fishers who use the area are resisting regulation of their activities. However, as the recent NPWS report shows, their activities could reduce available food species for the penguins, disturb the penguins during both nesting and rafting, and disturb the seagrass beds that are nursery areas for fish species on which the penguins feed.

Only 3 or 4 fishers are identified as regular users of the area and a professional economic study of the costs and benefits of restricting fishing to daylight hours during the penguin breeding season indicates that the resulting net loss per commercial fisher will be just over $2000.

By contrast, the same economic study estimates that the net annual economic benefit to the community of conserving the area in the ways that are proposed would be $3.4 million per year.

If you care about the future of our Little Penguins, it is important that you make submissions letting the National Parks & Wildlife Service and the Minister for the Environment know that you support declaring of Critical Habitat.

Some of the points you should make are:

  1. that you strongly support the declaration of Critical Habitat for Manly's Little Penguin population

  2. that, in general, Option 3 as proposed by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (generally a 50m strip out from Mean High Watermark, and onshore to the rear of residences around Manly Point, in a narrow section west of Little Manly Point and from Collins Beach to Cannae Point - maps available) is a reasonable compromise between ensuring the best opportunity for protecting the Little Penguins and the desire to use the North Harbour area for other purposes.

  3. that the Regulations proposed in support of the Critical Habitat declaration are generally acceptable, but should be strengthened to address the issues listed below. You should indicate that the area declared Critical Habitat should be large enough to protect the penguins not only when nesting or rafting, but also when moulting (a time when they are especially vulnerable)

  4. that the area declared Critical Habitat should be large enough to ensure that the Little Penguin population is protected from all boating activity

  5. that ferries should not be allowed to dock at Quarantine Wharf (especially between dusk and dawn) because of their proximity to areas where Little Penguins come ashore, but also because the passage of ferries to Quarantine Station is very likely both to disrupt rafting by the penguins and to impact adversely on the seagrass beds that are nursery to important fish species that provide food for the penguins

  6. that in addition to penalties for 'tampering with or damaging nest boxes or nesting burrows', there should be penalties for 'disturbing' nesting or moulting birds

  7. that you have concerns that continued fishing from Little Manly Point may impact adversely on the Little Penguins, and should be regulated in the same way that is proposed for commercial fishing and recreational fishing in other areas of Critical Habitat (ie. No fishing between sunset and sunrise from July 1 to February 28)

  8. that given their habitat is so restricted, and the Little Penguin population is under pressure from a variety of sources, consideration should be given to including the rocky foreshore 50m inland and 50m out from the Mean High Water mark in the whole of the area adjoining Sydney Harbour National Park at Dobroyd Head. (This final point would have little, if any, financial impact on other users and would increase the area of potential habitat protected to cater for any increase in the size of Manly's Little Penguin population, given both the Recovery Plan and the declaration of Critical Habitat are intended to increase the population to a point where it is no longer at risk of extinction).

Send your submissions to

Little Penguin Recovery Program Coordinator
Threatened Species Unit
Central Directorate National Parks and Wildlife Service
PO Box 1967
Hurstville NSW 2220.

All submissions must reach the NPWS by not later than 14 June, but it is important that you write as soon as possible because the Minister for Environment and the Minister for Planning will soon be determining whether or not the proposed development at Quarantine Station should go ahead and under what conditions, prior to that date.

This page was created 12th May,2001, by Judith Bennett,  Friends of Quarantine Station,
and was last modified 20th January, 2007.