Port Stephens residents rallied at One Mile Beach on Sunday to protest against offshore wind power.
About 200 people formed a "human whale tail" before dozens of surfers paddled into the water to form a circle to express their opposition to wind turbines off the coast.
Surfers, fishers, tourist operators and residents were among the protesters.
Event organiser Rhys Westbury said "the ocean is part of who we are".
"It's the fabric of our identity in Port Stephens," Mr Westbury said.
He said the surfing community was concerned about the effect of wind turbines on the marine environment.
"We are in solidarity to support our home town and coastal community."
In July, the federal government declared an 1800 square kilometre offshore wind zone from Port Stephens to Swansea, following a 65-day consultation period from February to April.
The declared area will start 20 kilometres from the coast at Port Stephens, about 9km further offshore than first proposed, and more than 35km from the coast at Swansea.
Newcastle and Port Stephens Game Fishing Club president Troy Radford said he was concerned about the "environmental impact" of wind turbines off the coast.
"About 99 per cent of people you speak to in Port Stephens are against it," Mr Radford said, vowing to make wind power an issue at the next state and federal elections.
Tour guide operator Frank Future, who takes people on whale cruises, said he was seeking to "steer the government" towards using private contaminated land at Williamtown for large-scale solar power instead of offshore wind.
Mr Future said offshore wind projects were "very risky" and would be "foreign-owned".
"This isn't about NIMBYism. Whales travel the whole coast. Anything that might affect them is of great concern," Mr Future said.
He said using Williamtown land for solar panels and batteries would support landowners.
Port Stephens Surf School's Luke Michalak said offshore wind farms weren't needed.
"People go to the beach to look at the beautiful blue water and white sand and relax. They don't want to see big eyesores the size of Centrepoint Tower," he said.
Leonie Hamilton, a Port Stephens resident for 50 years, said "wind farms do not belong in the oceans".
"I am a supporter of renewable energy, but Port Stephens is a very bad match for offshore wind farms," she said.
She said the area was known for its marine parks and national parks.
"It hasn't been highly urbanised. The economy is based on tourism and fishing," she said.
"Unlike Newcastle, we do not have a history of working in industrial jobs. So when our tourism, fishing and hospitality industries get wiped out, we're not skilled to work in those other jobs."
Some protesters say they weren't aware of community consultation for the zone. However, they will get the chance to raise concerns when wind power projects are proposed.
Mr Radford said the protesting would intensify when plans emerge.
"We're not going to lie down and let it happen. More people are getting involved. A lot of different groups are forming," he said.
"We'll be marching to state parliament in Sydney in November and we'll do a national day of protest in Canberra in February.
"We're getting contacted from communities across Australia going through this same process, whether it's offshore or onshore wind farms."
When the government declared the zone, it touted the "potential for offshore wind projects to create up to 3120 construction jobs and 1560 ongoing operational jobs".
The zone is planned to generate up to five gigawatts of wind energy - enough to power 4.2 million homes.
The government said it consulted community groups, industry, business and local and state and governments.
Some public submissions supported "offshore renewable energy", but "wanted to ensure that the marine environment was protected", a government report said.
"Some commented that the long-term benefits would outweigh short-term impacts associated with the construction of the offshore renewable energy infrastructure."
More than half of the 1900 submissions raised concerns about the environment, amid worries that "the construction, operation and decommissioning of offshore wind farms would interfere with the marine ecosystem".
The National Offshore Petroleum Titles Administrator opened applications for feasibility licences from August 8 to November 14.
The government is expected to announce a list of preferred bidders early next year. More than a dozen Australian and international offshore wind companies have shown interest in investing in projects off the Hunter coast.
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