Waterways recreation
  • Last updated:
  • 16 Oct 2019

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

The diverse range of activities occurring in our estuaries - for example, swimming, fishing, kayaking, kite surfing, and boating make them highly desirable to locals and visitors. However, as our population grows and tourism increases, demand for space to undertake these activities and water pollution risks also increase. The community can be a part of the solution to this growing management challenge, to help ensure that our waterways continue to be healthy and enjoyable environments.

Responsible recreation

If you enjoy using our waterways, please remember that they are also home to valuable aquatic plants and animals.

Thousands of migratory birds rest and feed in Sunshine Coast waterways during the summer months, especially on the inter-tidal mud and sand banks of the northern Pumicestone Passage and the lower Maroochy River. Juvenile fish, crabs, prawns, dugongs and turtles are also nurtured in vital mangroves, inter-tidal and seagrass habitats throughout our estuaries. 

 Don't destroy what you came to enjoy!

Sunshine Coast waterways can provide us all with enjoyable and memorable experiences if we respect each other and the natural environment.

It's important that we understand current regulations and behave responsibly and safely, for example:

  • Read 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.
  • Take all of your rubbish away with you.
  • Avoid damaging marine plants and habitats.
  • Respect other users so we all enjoy our waterway experiences.

It is also important to be aware that, as with any nature-based activities, 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 in waterways (e.g. swimming) during heavy rain, and at least a day after-wards in open waterways and beaches and at least three days afterwards in confined bays and estuaries.
  • Avoid primary contact recreation in or near stormwater drains and outlets.
  • Look out for indicators of pollution before entering waterways, such as discoloured or strong-smelling water, or floating litter, scum or debris.
  • Avoid primary contact recreation in waterways if you have an open wound or infection.
  • Look for posted warning signs and follow the advice on them.

Reporting irresponsible behaviour

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) 5585 1810 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) 5475 2599
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 Science website.

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