Jervis Bay Marine Park offers a wide range of popular recreational activities within the park that includes scuba diving, dolphin and whale watching. Surfing and other beach activities, fishing and bird watching are also available. The park is a multiple-use park that aims to protect marine biodiversity; it covers an area of 22,000 hectares and over 100 kms of coastline. People over the age of 18 who wish to fish in Jervis Bay are required to hold a Recreational Fishing Licence unless you are on a charter or hire boat. In that case it is best to check with the operator to see if they hold a recreational fishing fee exemption certificate. Bag size and limits also protect the area.
There are four types of zoning in the park: Sanctuary, Habitat protection, general use and special purpose. In the Sanctuary zones all animals, plants and their habitats are totally protected. Only low impact activities are permitted such as snorkelling and swimming. All fishing is prohibited. Sanctuary zones include the southern end of Nelsons Beach, Hyams Beach, Bowen Island and Steamers head.
In Habitat zones which comprise of about 72% of the marine park; activities such as commercial fishing is prohibited although recreational fishing is allowed.
General use zones are suitable for a range of both commercial and recreational activities, excluding scallop dredging, long lining and mesh netting.
Special purpose zones cater for sites that need special management such as the Huskisson wharves, and an area immediately adjacent to HMAS Creswell. Zoning information can be obtained from the Shoalhaven information centre that is located within the Lady Denman Complex in Huskisson, and most beaches have information signs that clearly explain what zoning is in place.
Visitors wishing to spear fish should check which areas are prohibited, they are not allowed within the areas of Booderee National park at all. This area has its own management plan. The visitors centre at the entrance of Booderee will provide information about fishing regulations or you can telephone (02) 4443 0977.
Jervis Bay Marine Park has a resident pod of about 60 bottle-nose dolphins that are often seen swimming off local beaches and catching the waves. Whales also frequent the area between August and November often taking refuge inside the bay with their calves. Some fish species are protected in the entire area of Jervis Bay Marine Park.
If you catch one of these, it must be returned to the water, unharmed if possible. These species include all species of seahorse and sea-dragons. Black cod, Grey nurse shark, Great white shark, Elegant wrasse and Herbst nurse shark. Scuba divers in the area are asked to follow a code of conduct if they come across grey nurse sharks. Included comments are "do not feed or touch the sharks." Commercial dive operators are required to sign a code of conduct and to present a brief before each dive.
The Royal Australian Navy (RAN) has been associated with Jervis Bay for about 90 years and uses the area for training exercises. They can often be seen in the bay winching sailors from helicopters on and off sea going vessels. When these exercises are in place recreational vessels have a seclusion zone.
Further information can be found by contacting: NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service www.npws.nsw.gov.au