There is growing concern at the devastation being caused to the marine environment of Little Bay and the risks posed to swimmers and snorkellers by sea urchin gatherers and spearfishermen. Some of the issues:

* every summer, groups of people are intensively harvesting the sea urchins from the rocks in the intertidal zone; it is believed that the almost total loss of the sea urchin population that is now occurring each summer is contributing to the disappearance of other marine life

* sea urchin gatherers are carelessly leaving the shells and spines of these creatures on the sand and in the water where swimmers and sunbathers can tread on them; sea urchin spine injuries are painful and the spines difficult to remove, sometimes requiring medical attention

* spearfishermen, many of them equipped with spearguns, many of them also inexperienced, are fishing in the shallow waters of the inner bay amongst swimmers and snorkellers; it is only a matter of time before there is an accident and a swimmer is injured, possibly seriously

* the spearfishermen are taking many fish and it is now rare to see a fish of any size in the bay.

Some comments from people we have spoken to or had email from:

“I have for a long time been concerned by the current lack of biodiversity in the rock pools and intertidal flats compared to the prolific range of organisms and marine vegetation of years past.”


“This is a link to the Sydney Aquatic Reserves –

You will see that Bronte to Coogee is included. Unless there is a blanket ban the areas not included like Little Bay, Bare Island end up taking up the slack.

If you put in a proposal [ for some sort of marine reserve ] I think it should cover the whole [ Litle Bay – La Perouse ] Precinct otherwise the shell gatherers will simply come further south.

Personally I don’t think any spearfishing should be allowed around swimming areas. One minute you’re peacefully snorkeling with your children showing them the marine delights and next there’s a lethal weapon being used in close proximity. You can’t carry a nail file onto a plane but it’s OK to use spears!!

Then there is the issue of the rockpools being stripped, sometimes the ‘collectors’ use paint stripper implements to ‘clean up’ the rocks. It would be one thing to declare the occasional cultural day and police it but all we have now is total free for all.

A neighbour recently emailed to say she’d found urchin shells discarded outside her house.”


‘After Australia Day, the floor of the rock pool was thick with sea urchin spines, left by the gatherers who stripped the urchins of their spines in the pool, then smashed the urchins open and took the flesh.

My boys won’t snorkel in the bay anymore; they say “Dad, there’s no point, there’s nothing to see.”‘


“We fully agree with your concern about the destruction of the marine environment in Little Bay – we’ve been snorkelling there for 3 years and have seen it collapse in this time.”


If you have an opinion or suggestion on this topic, please post a comment.