Waterways recreation
  • Last updated:
  • 10 Jun 2019

Waterways and coastal foreshores are a vital part of the Sunshine Coast’s identity, prosperity and lifestyle that provide multiple environmental, social and economic benefits to the region.

The range of activities occurring in or on our estuaries is quite diverse, including swimming, fishing, kayaking, kite surfing, boating and the like, and highly desirable to locals and tourists alike. However as the population grows and tourism increases, the demand for suitable recreational space to support these activities also increases and there is increasing potential for water pollution. This presents a key management challenge, but the community can be a part of the solution to ensure the Coast's waterways are healthy and provide an enjoyable environment for all.

Responsible recreation

If you enjoy using the Sunshine Coast waterways, please remember that aquatic plant and animal life are an important part of the ecosystem.

Up to 50,000 migratory birds rest and feed in Sunshine Coast waterways during the summer months, with major shorebird and tern roosting sites located on the northern Pumicestone Passage sandbanks and the lower Maroochy River estuaries. Mangroves, tidal mudflats and seagrass beds provide vital habitat for juvenile fish, crabs, prawns, dugongs and turtles.

It’s important that waterways users have an understanding of current regulations and are recreating responsibly and safely, particularly during weekends and holidays. Sunshine Coast waterways can provide an enjoyable and harmonious experience if everyone respects the natural environment.

Ways to enjoy waters responsibly include:

  • Read the signs and comply with on-water regulations such as speed limits and designated areas for swimming, waterskiing, freestyling, surfing and wave jumping.
  • Slow down and keep a safe distance when approaching the shore, other vessels, swimmers and marine animals.
  • Keep boat wash to a minimum wherever possible.
  • Remember to take your rubbish with you.
  • Respect marine habitat.
  • Respect other users and have fun.

Don’t destroy what you came to enjoy!

It is also important to be aware that, as with any nature-based activity, waterway recreation comes with some risks. Follow the tips below and always use your best judgement to decide if it is safe to enter a waterway.

  • Avoid primary contact recreation with waterways during, and at least one day after, heavy rain in open waterways and beaches, and for at least three days within confined bays and estuaries.
  • Always avoid primary contact recreation in or near stormwater drains.
  • Look out for indicators of pollution before entering waterways including discoloured or strong smelling water, and floating litter, scum or debris.
  • Avoid primary contact recreation with waterways if you have an open wound or infection.
  • Look for posted warning signs and follow the advice on them.

Watch this community service announcement on safer waterway recreation[4714KB].

How you can help

If you witness any waterway users not complying with on-water regulations, please report the incident to the relevant authority.

Maritime Safety Queensland Marine safety and marine pollution complaints  (07) 5477 8425 or
A/H (07) 3305 1700
Queensland Boating and Fisheries Patrol Marine safety and fisheries complaints (07) 5444 4599 (Mooloolaba)
Sunshine Coast District Water Police Search and rescue, on-water criminal matters and marine safety complaints (07) 5457 6711
A/H 0438 200 705
Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service Non-compliance with the Moreton Bay Marine Park such as disturbing shorebirds or planing in a go slow zone 13QGOV (13 74 68)
Sunshine Coast Council Non-compliance with bathing reserve local laws - inform your nearest lifeguard or call council’s response services team (07) 5475 7272

Please provide sufficient details of the offence, including photographic evidence, for the department to take appropriate action.

Current on-water regulations

Related sites

For more information on waterway regulations, go to Maritime Safety Queensland’s website.

For more information on regulations related to the Moreton Bay Marine Park, go to the Department of Environment and Resource Management website.

For more information on water quality and public health, go to the Healthy Waterplay website.