Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

About us header images - leftAbout us header images - centreAbout us header images - right

Publications archive - Annual reports

Disclaimer

Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Environment Australia Annual Report 2000-01

Environment Australia, 2001
ISSN 1441-9335

THEME: Coasts and oceans

Conserve and sustainably manage coasts and oceans

Australia's marine environment is huge, twice the size of its terrestrial environment. Marine biological diversity within this area includes approximately 4000 fish species, 500 coral species in the northern reefs, 50 species of marine mammals and a wide range of sea birds.

As many as 80 per cent of our southern marine species occur nowhere else.

More than 14 million Australians live within 100 kilometres of the coast, placing many pressures on coastal and marine ecosystems.
Conservation and sustainable use of coasts and oceans is achieved through these Environment Australia programmes:

  • Coasts and Clean Seas:
    - Coastcare;
    - Clean Seas;
    - Coastal Monitoring;
    - Marine Species Protection;
    - Coastal and Marine Planning
    - Introduced Marine Pests; and
    - Marine Waste Reception Facilities.

  • Australia's Oceans Policy:
    - National Moorings;
    - Marine Protected Areas;
    - Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils;
    - Antifouling; and
    - Ballast Water Mitigation.

  • Living Cities:
    - Urban Stormwater.

  • Cleaning Our Waterways.

PROGRAMMES THAT PROTECT AND CONSERVE THE ENVIRONMENT

Coasts and Clean Seas - Natural Heritage Trust

Objective

To provide financial support for projects that aim to improve marine and estuarine water quality; develop and manage marine protected areas; enhance the capacity of coastal communities to manage and care for coastal and marine resources; reduce threats from human activities for selected marine species; improve coastal water quality; and establish a national marine pest incursion management system.

Results

Coastcare

Coastcare encourages volunteer, government agency and private sector participation in coastal and marine environmental management and protection. There are an estimated 2000 community groups that help to actively manage and protect the Australian coastal and marine environment.

Coastcare has made a substantial contribution to community, government and industry awareness, understanding, commitment and action to achieving the sustainable management of Australia's coastal and marine resources.

The Commonwealth funds a network of 30 regional Coastcare facilitators with in-kind support from host State agencies or local governments and organisations. This network provides valuable support for community groups and local land managers to help them achieve tangible improvements in the coastal and marine environment.

The programme holds Coastcare Week in the first week of summer each year and raises general awareness of the need to care for Australia's coasts and oceans. The purpose of Coastcare Week is to draw people's attention to the problems facing the coastal and marine environment through a theme that presents an environmental education message. The week is also used as an opportunity to encourage the community to help care for Australia's coast through their own actions.

The Coastcare Week theme was SOS - Save Our Shorebirds. The campaign complemented other initiatives and programmes such as the National Migratory Shorebird programme and the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Network. Many activities and awareness-raising events with a shorebird focus took place around Australia. Coastcare used the media extensively to help spread important messages.

Landcare Australia Limited is contracted to provide sponsorship and promotion services to the Coastcare programme and secured Land Rover Australia as a major Coastcare sponsor. Land Rover has supported Coastcare through a responsible four-wheel driving campaign and the Focus on the Coast photographic competition that ran over summer.

Landcare Australia Limited also undertakes national promotion for Coastcare. It assists with media campaigns and management of Coastcare celebrity spokespeople. Success is partly measured by surveys of national awareness of Coastcare. A recent poll by Roy Morgan Research found that national awareness of Coastcare had risen from 34 per cent in 1997 to 57 per cent in 2000.

Clean seas

The Clean Seas Programme funds projects that demonstrate innovation and best practice in sewage and stormwater management. Projects funded included sewage and stormwater treatment and re-use, toxic algae remediation, and pollution controls.

The Derwent estuary ecological improvements through wastewater re-use project exemplifies the success of the Commonwealth component of the Clean Seas Programme. This project has achieved zero discharge of wastewater into the Derwent estuary through the redirection of treated effluent and stormwater to a range of community and business initiatives.

Clean Seas, in conjunction with the Urban Stormwater Initiative and the Cleaning Our Waterways Partnership Programme, is taking environmental pressure off waterways, reducing the need for more dams and creating significant economic activity based on long-term ecological sustainability.

These Commonwealth components gained additional leveraged funding for projects from industry and State and local government. On average, for every $1 the Commonwealth has spent on projects under these programmes, another $4 has been contributed by industry and State and local government.

Coastal monitoring

The Coastal Monitoring Programme aims to improve coastal management by monitoring key threats to coastal and marine environments and by providing data for strategic planning and policy development. The programme's objectives include a better understanding of the impact of human and natural activities on marine environments as well as the management of coastal resources.

The programme supports data collection for seagrass protection; coastal water quality management; coastal reef management; and mangrove and salt marsh protection in developed areas. A project funded included a grant of $79 943 to the Eurobodalla Shire Council in New South Wales to monitor small south coast estuaries to make informed decisions on improved land use planning including controls such as effluent re-use and erosion control.

Marine species protection

The Marine Species Protection Programme works towards the conservation of cetaceans and listed threatened, migratory and marine species through a public grants programme; developing recovery plans and recovery actions for threatened marine species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act; and implementing projects to reduce threats to marine species.

Internationally, the programme supports Australia's involvement in the International Whaling Commission by funding research work on cetaceans in the Pacific Ocean, Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean. The programme also supports Australia's implementation of the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora through initiatives on dolphins, marine turtles and seahorses.

The grants programme funds projects that reduce threats to selected marine species. It comprises a publicly advertised local component and a targeted Commonwealth component. Under the local component projects funded helped conserve species listed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, such as marine turtles; sea birds such as albatross; great white and grey nurse sharks; and dugongs. Funding was also provided for research projects on blue whales, southern right whales and Southern Ocean cetaceans.

Through the Marine Species Protection Programme, Ocean Watch Australia has received $1.2 million dollars since 1999 and significant in-kind support from the commercial fishing industry to support SeaNet. SeaNet aims to provide easy access to information and advice about environmental best practice in commercial fisheries and represents a significant partnership between commercial fishers, industry, research organisations and conservation groups. Bycatch is a major issue facing the Australian fishing industry. SeaNet works with fishers to assist in the implementation of effective, practical and cost-effective solutions to bycatch minimisation. Reducing the environmental impact of fishing through bycatch reduction measures will ensure the ecological sustainability of fisheries in the long term, as well as having real economic advantages - shorter sorting times and less damage to the product.

Coastal and marine planning

The Coastal and Marine Planning Programme supports planning projects that aim to improve management of potential and existing pressures on the coastal environment. These projects pay dividends through the development and implementation of quality plans.

One of the most significant achievements of the programme was the development of a model development control plan for the protection of Sydney's metropolitan wetlands. Under the plan Environment Australia brought together a diverse mix of competing interests to ensure that wetlands and coastal lagoon vegetation in urban areas are protected and enhanced. The plan covers approximately 300 wetlands including one wetland of international importance listed under the Ramsar Convention. The Sydney Coastal Councils Group has already committed itself to adopting the plan over approximately 90 wetlands. A further 210 wetlands in the Sydney metropolitan area will also be better protected with the participation of local councils outside the project area.

The development control plan is a valuable tool that can be applied to any wetland or body of water, and could eventually be adopted throughout Australia.
During the year responsibility for the programme was transferred to the National Oceans Office.

Introduced marine pests

Projects funded through the Introduced Marine Pests Programme contribute to the proposed National System for the Prevention and Management of Introduced Marine Pests, including emergency incursion management. One of the projects funded was a catalogue of treatment options for responding to specific pests. The programme also supported the development of a national electronic database covering existing pests and possible high-priority pests that have not yet arrived in Australian waters. A project was also started to provide training for managers of pest emergencies in the Commonwealth, States and Northern Territory.

Marine waste reception facilities

The Marine Waste Reception Facilities Programme supports the installation and demonstration of best practice facilities for receiving shipping and boating wastes at ports, marinas and boat harbours. Projects funded included boat sewage pumpouts, garbage repositories and signage, slipway waste containment, and marina/harbour stormwater management and re-use.

Tropical Reef Shipyards in Cairns is a major site for commercial vessel repair. Commonwealth funding under the programme will form part of a half-million dollar project to manage wastewater on-site, including installation of tidal gates and a treatment system to prevent toxic waste from vessel maintenance entering the marine environment.

Australia's Oceans Policy

Objective

To set in place a framework to enable integrated and ecosystem-based planning and management for Australia's marine environment.

Result

Environment Australia has responsibility for implementing the Marine Environment Protection Programmes under Australia's Oceans Policy. More details on programmes that conserve and sustainably manage coasts and oceans are given in the policy advice, strategies and international participation sections of departmental outputs.

National moorings

The National Moorings Programme funds projects to install public moorings in popular recreational areas with sensitive marine habitats to protect them from the destructive impacts of anchoring. The $1.75 million programme is implemented in cooperation with State and Territory agencies and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Projects included moorings in sensitive estuarine, coral reef and seagrass areas.

With Commonwealth funding support, Western Australia Fisheries installed public moorings at 11 key locations throughout the increasingly popular Abrolhos Islands. These will protect sensitive marine coral and seagrass habitats from anchor damage from vessels using the area.

Marine protected areas

The Marine Protected Areas Programme projects funded under Australia's Oceans Policy contribute to the implementation of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas, a key objective of that policy. The programme supports projects to assist each State and the Northern Territory to identify, establish and manage marine protected areas as part of the system.

The programme provided funds to the States and the Northern Territory to support their ecosystem mapping and declaration processes.

A project proposed by New South Wales to declare new marine protected areas in the Manning Shelf and Tweed-Moreton bioregion (Byron Bay area) will be an important component of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. The new marine protected areas will be significant for conserving marine biodiversity in the Byron Bay area. One marine protected area will represent the majority of habitat types for the Manning bioregion, an area previously unrepresented in the national system.

The programme also supports projects to implement the strategic plan of action for the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas including a draft biodiversity performance assessment framework for Commonwealth marine protected areas; mapping vulnerable ecosystems and identifying priorities for candidate marine protected areas; and developing a rapid assessment methodology for priority marine areas for inclusion in the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

Coastal acid sulfate soils

The Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils Programme provides catalytic funding for practical projects that demonstrate good management of coastal acid sulfate soils. The programme aims to find management options that will help the community, researchers, industry and local and State governments improve acid sulfate soil management and coastal water quality.

Projects funded will demonstrate innovative techniques to manage coastal acid sulfate soils in different localities and environmental conditions, and promote partnerships among key stakeholders. Projects funded included treatment and remediation of acid sulfate soils, floodgate manipulation and drainage management.

Fisheries

In response to the Government's commitment in Australia's Oceans Policy, amendments were made to Schedule 4 of the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982 to require environmental performance assessment of export fisheries.

Antifouling

The Antifouling Programme assists the Government in meeting its policy commitment to ban the use of organotins in antifouling paints in Australia. The programme funded a paint industry workshop that provided advice on streamlining registration of new organotin-free antifouling paints. It also instigated a major cooperative government-industry project to test the efficacy of new antifouling paints on Australian ships under a range of operational conditions.

Ballast water

The Ballast Water Mitigation Programme funds projects that will prevent new marine pests being introduced through ballast water. It also reduces translocation of new and existing pests around Australia. It complements the Coasts and Clean Seas Introduced Marine Pests Programme.

The programme provided $357 000 for a demonstration project to trial arrangements for a national ballast water management regime at the port of Hastings, Victoria. The new management regime, when implemented, will be part of the new National System for the Prevention and Management of Marine Pests that is being developed. The programme is also supporting the development of a geographic information system to track and help limit transport of pests.

DEPARTMENTAL OUTPUTS THAT SUPPORT THESE PROGRAMMES

Output group 1.1 - Policy advice and accountability

Domestic | International | State of the environment | Corporate reform

Sea dumping

The Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981 was amended to implement the 1996 protocol to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972. Australia ratified the protocol in December 2000.

Fisheries

The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act contains a series of provisions designed to improve the environmental performance of fisheries. These include a requirement to commence strategic environmental assessment of two-thirds of Commonwealth-managed fisheries by July 2003, with the remainder required by July 2005.

In September 2000, the Government implemented its 1998 Australia's Oceans Policy commitment to ensure that exemptions from export controls under the Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act are available only for marine species harvested in accordance with management arrangements assessed as ecologically sustainable. This change will take effect in December 2003.

The Minister approved generic terms of reference for the strategic assessment of Commonwealth fisheries under section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and has, after a process that included wide consultation with the industry, community groups and management agencies, approved Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. The Minister also agreed to consider accreditation of State and Territory processes for assessment reports and accredited benchmarks.

Agreement was reached with State and Commonwealth fishery managers regarding priority fisheries for assessment and reporting against the Commonwealth Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries.

Environment Australia coordinated the portfolio's submission to the Commonwealth fisheries policy review. The submission, approved by the Minister, argued that ecological sustainability should have primacy under an ecologically sustainable development framework.

Marine protected areas

Following discussions with stakeholders and Commonwealth agencies, Environment Australia submitted to the Minister a list of potential marine protected areas in Commonwealth waters for conservation assessment, in order to increase the completeness, adequacy and representativeness of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

Output group 1.2 - Programme administration

Grants | Schemes

Coasts and Clean Seas

Under Coasts and Clean Seas programmes 722 applications were assessed with 436 approved for funding. Over 272 contracts were managed. Programmes include Coastcare, Clean Seas, Coastal Monitoring, Marine Species Protection, Coastal and Marine Planning, Marine Waste Reception Facilities, and Marine Protected Areas.

The Commonwealth provides funding for a Coasts and Clean Seas officer in each State and the Northern Territory. These officers advise applicants, promote Commonwealth funding opportunities and directly manage non-State agency projects.

Coastcare

Coastcare encourages volunteer, government agency and private sector participation in coastal and marine environmental management and protection through provision of grants, support from 30 regional Coastcare facilitators and environmental education campaigns. The 30 regionally based Coastcare facilitators help community groups develop, manage and implement projects in partnership with local land managers. Coastcare projects are managed through State coordinators and the network of regional facilitators. Environment Australia indirectly manages these projects through seven funding contracts (one for each State and the Northern Territory).

Of the 468 projects assessed, 310 were approved and managed through funding contracts with State agencies. Combined State, Northern Territory and Commonwealth funding contributed to these projects was $3 762 017. The Commonwealth contribution was $2 157 066.

Clean seas

Through the local component of the Clean Seas Programme, 106 projects were assessed, and funding of $5.9 million was provided for 40 new projects. Nine projects with State and Territory agencies were managed directly, and 153 projects managed indirectly through funding contracts with the States and the Northern Territory.

Through the Commonwealth component of the programme, funding of $1.8 million was provided for three new projects. Thirty-six projects were directly managed.

Coastal monitoring

Under the Coastal Monitoring Programme, 49 projects were assessed, and funding of $524 351 was provided for 10 new projects. Eleven projects with State and Territory agencies were managed directly and 153 projects managed indirectly through funding contracts with the States and the Northern Territory.

Marine species protection

Under the local component of the Marine Species Protection Programme 28 projects were assessed with funding of $518 254 provided for nine new projects. Nine projects with State and Territory agencies were managed directly and 22 projects managed indirectly through funding contracts with the States and the Northern Territory.

Under the Commonwealth component, 22 projects were assessed and 18 approved, and a total of 48 contracts were managed.

Coastal and marine planning

Programme administration, including 25 projects, was transferred from Environment Australia to the National Oceans Office in November 2000. Nine projects near completion remained with Environment Australia, with satisfactory final reports submitted.

Introduced marine pests

Fourteen ongoing projects funded by the Introduced Marine Pests Programme were directly managed.

Marine waste reception facilities

As part of the Marine Waste Reception Facilities Programme, in 1999-2000 consultants carried out 77 needs-analysis assessments of ports, harbours and marinas around the country. These assessments were used to identify demonstration projects for waste reception facilities and formed the basis of the decision to fund 46 projects, providing a total of $2.17 million. All projects were directly managed.

Marine environment protection

Under Australia's Oceans Policy a suite of marine environment protection programmes have been implemented. Grant programmes include Marine Protected Areas, National Moorings and Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils. Details on these programmes are provided below.

Marine protected areas

A new strategy was introduced for funding projects under the Marine Protected Areas Programme targeting declarations of protected areas. Three projects were assessed and approved with funding of $235 000 provided. A total of 20 new and continuing contracts with States and the Northern Territory were managed. Two consultancies were also managed under the strategic plan of action for the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. The Marine Protected Areas Programme also receives funding through Coasts and Clean Seas.

National moorings

The six projects assessed received funding totalling $790 000. Thirteen projects were managed and six projects completed.

Coastal acid sulfate soils

The first round of funding from the Coastal Acid Sulfate Soils Programme was completed and the second round started. The programme assessed nine projects and provided funding of $1.5 million for eight new projects assessed in 1999-2000. Eight projects were managed.

Urban stormwater

The Urban Stormwater Initiative, a component of Living Cities, targets projects that demonstrate innovation and best practice stormwater management. The programme provided $5 million for eight new projects that will enhance water quality in waterways of major coastal cities by improving stormwater management.

Waterways industry partnerships

The Cleaning Our Waterways Industry Partnerships Programme targets projects that improve the quality of coastal waterways by ensuring the use of cleaner production techniques and improved industry wastewater and stormwater management.

Funding of $989 836 was provided for eight new projects that employ cleaner production and eco-efficiency technology to eliminate effluent discharge.

Output group 1.3 - Strategies

Agreements | Codes | Coordination

Commonwealth marine protected areas

Guidelines were finalised to standardise activities that may be carried out in a protected area under each IUCN World Conservation Union category.
Environment Australia provided secretariat support for the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council Task Force on Marine Protected Areas, which implements the strategic plan of action for the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.

Fisheries assessment

Agreements were signed with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority under section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act for the development of assessments for the first of the Commonwealth managed fisheries - the Bass Strait Central Zone scallop fishery and the Heard Island and McDonald Islands fishery. Public comment was sought on the draft terms of reference for both fisheries and on the draft assessment report on the Bass Strait fishery.

Public comment was sought on draft environment assessment reports on the Tasmanian rock lobster and abalone fisheries. Progress was made on accreditation of the report development process for New South Wales.

Water quality protection

The National Environment Protection Council did not support a Commonwealth proposal put to them in September to develop a National Environment Protection Measure for ambient marine and estuarine water quality. Following that meeting, the Minister approved national planning and management standards for marine and estuarine water quality protection. The standards, which implement a total load-based approach to controlling land-based sources of marine pollution, will be used by Environment Australia to give greater context to water quality protection programmes such as the Urban Stormwater Initiative. The standards will form the basis of a national approach to coastal water quality protection.

Output group 1.4 - International participation

Forums | Obligations | Representation

International marine representation

Environment Australia continued to advance its interests in marine issues through participation in key international forums. Objectives include marine biodiversity conservation; the reduction and control of land-based sources of marine pollution; international cooperation and coordination of oceans governance issues; and continued progression of regional bilateral relationships.

Asia-Pacific region

Environment Australia took on the lead role for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Marine Resource Conservation Working Group for the next two years. With Canada, Environment Australia jointly hosted a workshop in Vancouver on ocean governance to look at integrating oceans management within the region and improving coordination between the various working groups.

Australia is an active member of the Coordinating Body for the Seas of South-east Asia, the objectives of which are to address issues concerning the development and protection of the marine environment and coastal areas in South-east Asia. Australia provides a key role in the implementation of programmes in the region, including a major global environment facility project addressing degradation in the South China Sea and Gulf of Thailand.

Australia hosted the 11th meeting of the Torres Strait environment management committee in Cairns. The role of the committee is to develop strategies and advise governments on environmental management under the Torres Strait Treaty.

Ashmore Reef region

In cooperation with the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Environment Australia organised an international symposium on the Ashmore Reef region to discuss scientific and management issues with stakeholders and researchers.

Environment Australia attended forums in Indonesia to consult with Indonesian stakeholders on management of the Ashmore Reef Reserve and Cartier Island National Nature Reserve. The meetings resulted in a shared understanding of fisheries and reserve management issues, and laid a strong foundation for resolving those issues.

Marine pollution

Environment Australia represented Australia at two meetings of the International Maritime Organization's Marine Environment Protection Committee. Officers pursued further development of and agreement to a draft international convention on the control of harmful antifouling systems.

Environment Australia represented Australia at the 22nd consultative meeting, and the 24th scientific group meeting, of the contracting parties to the London Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matter, 1972. A key outcome of the meetings was the finalisation of guidance on categories of substances eligible for dumping under the 1996 protocol to the London Convention.

Australia remains a key supporter of the Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities, designed to provide practical guidance to undertake actions to protect and preserve the marine environment from pollution. Australia established a regional node for the programme's clearing house mechanism that provides assistance with capacity building in the region.

Marine biodiversity

Australia continued to pursue international acceptance of the need for greater protection of high seas biodiversity, including through the use of marine protected areas. This issue is gaining wider understanding and acceptance. Australia is pursuing the development of a demonstration marine protected area on the high seas with New Zealand and other regional neighbours.

Environment Australia was effective in raising the profile of marine protected areas through its contribution to the planning session of the World Parks Congress, a body that had primarily focused on terrestrial protected areas.

Australia nominated Australian populations of the great white shark for inclusion on appendix III of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Under the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (Bonn Convention) negotiations were completed for a regional memorandum of understanding on the conservation and management of marine turtles in the Indian Ocean and South-east Asian region, initiated by Australia in 1999.
Australia hosted the 52nd International Whaling Commission meeting held in Adelaide in July 2000. The joint Australian and New Zealand South Pacific whale sanctuary proposal was a major focus of the meeting.

Environment Australia continued its international lobbying in support of the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary and the cessation of Japanese 'scientific' whaling.
Through the Marine Species Protection Programme, Australia contributed funding towards a workshop on the South Pacific Whale Sanctuary hosted by the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme. The 15 South Pacific nations attending agreed to in-principle support for establishment of the sanctuary. The workshop also resulted in the formation of the South Pacific Whale Watching Industry Organisation.

Fisheries

Briefings on a range of marine environmental issues of concern to Australia were provided for the Australian delegation to the 24th session of the Food and Agriculture Organization's Committee on Fisheries. The delegation was successful in progressing international plans of action for sharks; sea birds; and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, thus providing impetus for development of national plans for the same issues.

Output group 1.5 - Information

Databases | Websites | Education

Marine and Coastal Community Network

Environment Australia continued to fund the Marine and Coastal Community Network which consists of a national coordinator, administrative support and seven regional coordinators in the States and the Northern Territory.

The network's primary objective is to assist community involvement in caring for Australia's oceans and coasts. This was achieved through a variety of media including national and State-based publications (Waves and Ripples), radio shows in five States and a website.

The network had 8456 individuals, groups and agencies participating. Apart from a key role in information dissemination, projects included facilitating community input to the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy and the Marine Protected Areas Programme, and development of regional marine plans; and the coordination of workshops on Australia's Oceans Policy, seagrass, oil spill response plans, marine protected areas, aquaculture and fisheries.

Recreational fishing

RecFish Australia, the peak body of recreational and sport fishing organisations, received continuing support to implement a national environment strategy. The strategy aims to improve the environmental performance of recreational fishers and to encourage the restoration, conservation and protection of the natural environment.

Online

The marine page on the Environment Australia website provided comprehensive and accurate coverage of Commonwealth coasts and oceans activities and programmes.

Output group 1.6 - Legislation

Reforms | Standards | Regulations

Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981

Of the 24 permit applications received, 15 were granted, three were withdrawn and six were in progress at 30 June 2001. Of 11 applications for variations to permits, 10 were granted and one was in progress. All applications were processed within statutory timeframes.

Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act

A draft recovery plan for southern right whales was prepared under section 269A of the Act and released for public comment.
Draft guidelines on interactions between offshore seismic operations and whales and other large cetaceans were distributed for public comment. The guidelines will help proponents of offshore seismic operations address their obligations under the Act.

Fifteen applications for permits regarding cetaceans and listed marine species were received. Eight whale research permits were applied for, one permit issued and decisions were pending on the remaining seven; two sea snake permits were applied for and both issued; two seal research permits were applied for and decisions were pending on both; two seismic exploration permits and one filming educational/scientific research permit were applied for and issued.

A new structure for management plans for Commonwealth marine protected areas was developed to meet the requirements of plans under section 367 of the Act. The new structure also demonstrates how management plans take account of Australia's obligations under international agreements. The structure is being applied to all new Commonwealth marine protected areas.

Twelve applications for commercial and research activities in Commonwealth marine protected areas were submitted and permits issued under section 367 of the Act. Although there is no statutory timeframe, the permits were processed promptly.

The Act was amended to allow the Commonwealth to take a more strategic approach to bycatch avoidance in a range of Commonwealth and State fisheries.

Terms of reference were agreed for strategic assessments to be conducted by the Australian Fisheries Management Authority under Part 10 of the Act. Strategic assessments commenced for two fisheries: Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Bass Strait scallops.

Wildlife Protection (Regulation of Exports and Imports) Act 1982

A total of 13 evaluations were completed of applications for export of marine species that are currently subject to the Act, including products from commercial fisheries such as bÍche-de-mer and aquarium fish. The evaluations were undertaken to ensure that species exported under the Act are harvested in an ecologically sustainable manner. Nine section 10A and four section 44 approvals were granted. A further two proposals received during the year were still under assessment. Two seahorse aquaculture facilities were also approved as captive-breeding operations.

Output group 1.7 - Assessments and research

Legislation | Regulation | Standards

Environment Australia consulted with stakeholders including industry, conservation and scientific groups, and Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory agencies to inform, consult and seek comments on marine protected area matters. Arrangements were progressed with the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, Coastwatch, Australian Customs Service and some State agencies to provide surveillance, compliance and enforcement services.

The following notices of intent were issued: to declare the Heard Island and McDonald Islands Marine Reserve; to prepare a draft management plan for Lord Howe Island Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters); and to amend the management plan for the Great Australian Bight Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters).

The Solitary Islands Marine Reserve (Commonwealth Waters) management plan came into force on 4 April 2001. An information brochure on the Solitary Islands Marine Reserve zoning scheme, including management prescriptions, was distributed.

The Coringa-Herald National Nature Reserve and Lihou Reef National Nature Reserve management plans were tabled in Parliament. Final management plans for Ningaloo Marine Park (Commonwealth Waters) and Macquarie Island Marine Park were with the Minister for approval.

Two periods of public consultation were completed for draft management plans for the Tasmanian Seamounts Marine Reserve, the Ashmore Reef National Nature Reserve and the Cartier Island Marine Reserve.

Activities and the Administration of Legislation that Accord with the Principles of Ecologically Sustainable Development

All of Environment Australia's programmes to conserve and sustainably manage coasts and oceans contribute to achieving ecologically sustainable development.

The management of protected marine species is controlled by recovery plans and permits issued under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

The Government's policy commitments regarding the environmental performance of fisheries are achieved through application of the approved fisheries assessment criteria under the Guidelines for the Ecologically Sustainable Management of Fisheries. State and Territory fishery agencies have now nominated priority fisheries for assessment.

Coasts and Clean Seas and Australia's Oceans Policy programmes contributed to ecologically sustainable development by providing information about and funding for sustainable development activities such as coastal planning, soil rehabilitation, treatment and re-use of waste, wastewater and stormwater, and enhanced monitoring and modelling capabilities of coastal ecosystems.

The National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas contributed to the conservation of biodiversity and management of human use through extensive stakeholder consultation. Commonwealth marine protected areas are managed for conservation objectives and, where economic or social use of the area is compatible with these objectives, the park is generally zoned for multiple use.

The Marine and Estuarine Water Quality Protection Framework provides for ecologically sustainable development and management of Australia's water resources through water quality guidelines, plans and targets based upon the requirements of the environment and the need to protect key ecological processes and habitats for future generations. It also provides for the development of economic instruments such as improved valuation, pricing and incentive measures (for example nutrient trading) within catchments.