The world’s oceans are increasingly becoming a reservoir of anthropogenic products of the modern world. From pesticides to plastics, fertilisers, oil, solid garbage, toxic chemicals and sewage. The waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through rivers and drains.

Allied with these are activities such as over-fishing and increased rates of sedimentation and nutrient in-flows into coastal waters, the introduction of exotic species from ballast water discharged from ships as they ply the world’s oceans, habitat destruction and climate-induced changes to both the biotic and abiotic components of marine ecosystems. The list seems endless!


UVNSW is a coalition of community organisations provided with adequate training, quality assurance and quality control procedures to provide government agencies charged with managing NSW’s marine environment with reliable data to inform management decisions that will be used to ameliorate some of the problems discussed above. The activities undertaken by UVNSW members develop a sense of stewardship in their ‘local patch’ and through their actions aims to raise community awareness of marine conservation issues along the increasingly urbanised NSW coastline.

The Hunter-Central Rivers Catchment Management Authority (now the Hunter Local Land Services), working with the National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, provided seed funding for UVNSW. A steering committee convened to oversee the activities of UVNSW and was comprised of representatives from community organisations, government agencies and staff from the National Marine Science Centre.

Current community groups include:

  • Byron Underwater Research Group (BURG)
  • Solitary Islands Underwater Research Group (SURG)
  • Port Macquarie Underwater Research Group (PURG)
  • Great Lakes Underwater Group (GLUG)
  • Combined Hunter Underwater Group (CHUG)
  • Terrigal Underwater Group (TUG)
  • Underwater Research Group of NSW (URG)
  • Eco Divers
  • Jervis Bay Dive Club (JBDC)
  • Nature Coast Marine Group (NCMG)
  • Sapphire Coast Underwater Research Group (SCURG)

Community group map
Image credit: Map provided by NSW Parks and Wildlife Service - adapted to indicate locations of UVGs


Government agencies include representatives from NSW Government Local Land Services – Northern Rivers, Hunter, Greater Sydney and South East, and the NSW Marine Parks Authority.

Academics from a number of tertiary institutions including Southern Cross University, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney have provided valuable input.

Groups are autonomous entities and whilst they may use the protocols developed under the banner of UVNSW they are also encouraged to pursue activities that have a local focus. UVNSW does not mandate what activities groups undertake, but rather provides a vehicle for groups wanting to conduct specific monitoring and assessment activities