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The Commonwealth's Environment Expenditure 1997-98
Statement by Senator The Honourable Robert Hill
Minister for the Environment
Environment Australia 1997
Australia's marine and coastal environments are rich in natural and cultural resources, are adjacent to the nation's population, and are a focus for much of Australia's economic, social, tourism and recreational activity. The Government undertakes a range of activities aimed at the protection, conservation and sustainable use of Australia's coastal and marine environments. Many of these are set out in Table 8.1. This table includes coasts and oceans programme savings of $500,000 over four years from 1997-98. These form part of the Government's fiscal consolidation strategy.
Under the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative the Government will provide $125 million to the year 2001-02 for a suite of interrelated programmes to tackle pollution problems and protect Australia's coastal and marine environment. $106 million of this funding is being provided by the Natural Heritage Trust to support a range of new initiatives and continuing programmes that will focus on:
The Government has also provided funding of $700,000 in 1997-98 as a new measure which will enable completion of the second phase of remediation works at Orielton Lagoon, a small embayment east of Hobart at the northern end of Pitt Water.
The first phase of remediation works to improve flushing has been completed. The second phase involves the diversion of sewage, which presently discharges into Orielton Lagoon, for use in irrigating orchards and cut-flower farms. The capital works, involving the construction of a holding pond and pipes, is being funded by contributions from the Commonwealth, State and local governments.
Integrated Marine Management
An integrated management approach is essential to ensure the ongoing conservation and sustainable use of Australia's marine environment. The Government is providing up to $1.5 million over two years from 1996-97 to develop a comprehensive national Oceans Policy to improve the coordination and management of the wide diversity of marine based activities. The Oceans Policy will be developed in close consultation with State, Territory and local government and peak conservation and industry groups.
|BOX 8.1: INTEGRATED OCEANS POLICY
The Oceans Policy developed under the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative will address the planning, management and ecologically sustainable use of fisheries, shipping, petroleum, gas and sea bed resources within Australia's oceans. The Policy will also address the continued conservation and protection of Australia's marine biodiversity and include a surveillance strategy for the remote areas of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Prime Minister has launched the consultation process for the Oceans Policy which will enable a broad cross section of ocean interest and user groups, including industry, conservation, scientific and community groups, to participate in the development of the policy.
In conjunction with the Oceans Policy the Commonwealth is developing a Marine Science and Technology Plan that will establish strategies for integrated and innovative science, technology and engineering to support the sustainable management of Australia's marine environments. The plan will complement the Oceans Policy by identifying needs for science and technology over the next five to ten years.
Table 8.1: Coasts and Oceans - New Measures and Programme and Tax Expenditure Estimates
Programme and tax expenditure estimates include the effect of new measures.
- denotes nil; na denotes not available
(a) Includes funding under the Natural Heritage Trust for new initiatives (announced and unannounced) and continuing coastal programmes. Does not include $1 million for 2001-02 for the Fisheries Action Programme. For 2001-02 and six year total expenditure see Table 1.3.
(b) Residual funding under the Natural Heritage Trust for new initiatives (yet to be announced).
(c) See details under Community Participation in Management section.
(d) See details under Research and Monitoring section.
(e) Includes education and training programmes, codes of practice and communications such as CoastNet. See details under Enhancing Management Capability section.
(f) This excludes programme running costs.
Table 8.1: Coasts and Oceans - New Measures and Programme and Tax Expenditure Estimates continued
Programme and tax expenditure estimates include the effect of new measures.
- denotes nil; na denotes not available
(g) This is the total of the figures against indented descriptions below. For 1996-97 a breakdown of the total is not available.
(h) This vessel has some non-CSIRO users, sometimes for non-environmental purposes.
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is the world's largest marine protected area and a world leader in multi-use, integrated marine management. The Great Barrier Reef is facing growing pressure from the reef-based tourism industry, commercial and recreational fishing, shipping, expanding coastal urban areas and continued demand for coastal and island sites for major tourism developments and the downstream effects of land use from some of Australia's important pastoral and agricultural industries.
In 1997-98 the Commonwealth will provide $13.6 million to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) to manage the Marine Park in conjunction with the Queensland State and local governments and industry. Conservation of the Great Barrier Reef is the Authority's primary obligation. The Authority must ensure that the Reef's valuable tourist and commercial fishing industries worth around $1.3 billion per annum, plus other important uses such as shipping and recreational boating, continue to operate on an ecologically sustainable basis.
In addition to use-oriented conservation programmes, the Authority is developing a programme of emergency measures to address the decline of dugongs in the southern Great Barrier Reef and is reviewing the adequacy of existing highly protected areas in the Marine Park. Also, as the Reef is on the World Heritage list, the Authority's responsibilities have recently been expanded to overtly recognise management of World Heritage (see Ch. 9).
The bulk of the Authority's activities focus on measures to ensure that use of the Marine Park is ecologically sustainable:
Marine Biological Diversity Conservation
The Commonwealth manages and supports a number of cooperative programmes delivered under the framework of the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity, Commonwealth and State legislation and international environmental protection conventions. They are aimed at conserving Australia's marine biological diversity, including genetic, species and ecosystem diversity.
|Box 8.2: MARINE SPECIES AND HABITAT PROTECTION
During 1997-98 the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority will establish a number of protection areas for dugongs in the Park to reduce the decline of the species due to degradation of sea grass beds, commercial fishing, boat strikes and other human activities such as indigenous hunting. CSIRO and Environment Australia are also developing management plans for the recovery of endangered and threatened marine habitats including southern temperate sea mounts and species including seals, albatrosses and southern bluefin tuna. The Commonwealth is also providing an additional $400,000 to develop strategies to reduce the by-catch from fishing operations.
The primary mechanisms used by the Commonwealth to support conservation of marine biodiversity include:
The Commonwealth also coordinates action with the States on emergency measures to minimise the impact of human activities and natural events on marine wildlife.
Marine Environment Protection Measures
The Commonwealth is supporting a range of measures to protect the marine environment from damaging activities such as marine accidents, oil and chemical discharges and unseaworthy shipping. These measures are detailed below.
Maritime Accidents, Pollution and Water Quality Strategies
The Commonwealth provided funding of around $400,000 in 1996-97 for the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to address marine pollution threats from shipping operations through ANZECC's Maritime Accidents and Pollution Strategy and Action Plan. Priority areas addressed by the strategy include port waste reception facilities and marine debris, with an emphasis placed on determining baselines. The Commonwealth is also supporting the implementation of the National Water Quality Management Strategy through the intergovernmental Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) and the Agriculture and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand (ARMCANZ). The Strategy includes guidelines and recommended control measures to maintain water quality standards. Commonwealth legislation strictly regulates the dumping of waste at sea. Guidelines on the dumping of dredge spoil in the marine environment are being developed by the Commonwealth and States in consultation with ANZECC for implementation later this year.
Box 8.3: Albatross Conservation
There is considerable concern about the conservation status of all species of albatross. These birds, of which 12 of the 14 species live in the southern hemisphere, are long lived and reproduce slowly and so are particularly susceptible to even low levels of additional mortality. Mortality arising from oceanic longline fishing operations is of particular concern.
The Commonwealth recognised the need for domestic action to conserve albatrosses through listing fisheries related mortality as a key threatening process under the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992. The Government has committed funds to facilitate the development of a Threat Abatement Plan and to mitigate the impact of fisheries on these species. The Government has also committed funds to develop and implement a recovery plan for the endangered Macquarie Island population of Wandering albatross.
The Government has also recognised that effective albatross conservation will require efforts outside Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone. In April 1997 the Government was successful in having all southern hemisphere species of albatross listed under the Convention for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animal. This provides a mechanism for the global conservation of albatrosses. The Government has provided funds that will allow Australia to take an active leadership role in the global conservation of albatrosses.
Regional Environmental Protection Programmes
The Commonwealth has provided over $100,000 in 1996-97 for Australia's direct contributions to international programmes in the Asia Pacific region. These programmes include, for example, the Coordinating Body of the Seas of East Asia (COBSEA) and the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme which implement United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Regional Seas Programme and includes initiatives such as the Global Programme of Action (GPA) for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities and the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI). Another international programme is the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Marine Resource Conservation Working Group. Apart from implementing marine pollution protection measures, these initiatives also address a range of biodiversity and conservation issues.
The Commonwealth, through GBRMPA, hosts the Secretariat for the ICRI. ICRI seeks to maintain biological diversity, resources and natural values of coral reefs and related ecosystems. Australia's contribution in this area will be highlighted during 1997 as part of the International Year of the Reef. Commonwealth support includes information programmes for schools and the general community highlighting the natural values of coral reefs.
The Commonwealth also directly supports programmes to protect the marine environment through foreign aid. Examples are AusAID funding in 1996-97 of up to $200,000 for a feasibility study to identify waste management projects in the Pacific and $200,000 for training of Pacific Island government officers on integrated coastal zone management.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA)
AMSA is a statutory authority responsible for maritime safety, which is partially funded by the Commonwealth and partially funded by the shipping industry from fees and levies.
AMSA provided around $3.5 million in 1996-97 from shipping levies to work with State Governments, shipping, oil and exploration industries to implement the National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil. The Plan provides an integrated national system for responding promptly and effectively to marine oil pollution incidents and is supported by a levy imposed on commercial shipping using Australian ports.
Around $7 million is provided per annum by AMSA from inspection fees and levies to ensure compliance with Port State and Flag State controls that seek to protect life, property and the marine environment from unseaworthy vessels. This involves inspections of both foreign flagged and Australian vessels to ensure compliance with Australian laws and international conventions.
Up to $5 million has been allocated by AMSA in the past year to the Outer Route survey of the Great Barrier Reef and the ship reporting system for the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait regions.
The Cooperative Research Centre for Ecologically Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier Reef is investigating the status of the Great Barrier Reef environment and its relationship to a wide range of regional and local external and internal stresses. The Centre is also finding positive solutions to environmental, social and engineering problems associated with the increasing use of the region by different groups.
The Commonwealth requires an environmental assessment of marine projects in Commonwealth waters where activities may have significant environmental impacts. This includes petroleum or other resource developments. The Commonwealth provides around $100,000 per annum for environmental assessment work on exploration and production projects such as marine baseline studies for petroleum development. The Commonwealth also will provide $300,000 in 1997-98 for applied nuclear science techniques such as the use of radio tracer techniques to enhance coastal engineering and the assessment of movements of land based materials into the coastal environment.
Sustainable Fisheries Management
The Commonwealth provides leadership in ensuring that fisheries resources are managed in accordance with the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
The Commonwealth, through the Department of Primary Industries and Energy's Fisheries and Aquaculture subprogramme (funded at $1.4 million in 1996-97), develops policies and legislation and implements strategies for the sustainable management of Australian fisheries and aquaculture. This includes addressing the environmental impacts of fishing. Under this subprogramme the Commonwealth takes a leading role in managing Australia's participation in fisheries working groups for regional agreements, such as APEC, and in implementing international agreements such as the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna and the Indian Ocean Tuna Convention.
Fish stocks in the Australian Fishing Zone are managed jointly by the Commonwealth and States depending on agreed arrangements. The Commonwealth will provide over $9 million per annum from 1997-98 or 48 per cent of the annual operating budget (the remaining 52 per cent is provided by industry) to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) which is the Commonwealth statutory body responsible for the day to day management of Commonwealth fisheries resources. At a broad level, AFMA is charged with maintaining, and managing the sustainable use of, Commonwealth fisheries resources on behalf of the whole Australian community and key stakeholders, such as the commercial fishing industry. In doing so, AFMA provides management, advisory, compliance and licensing services and develops appropriate fisheries management policies and regulations consistent with its legislative objectives. Commonwealth contributions to AFMA fund specific community service obligations, in particular the management of fisheries under the Torres Strait Fisheries Act 1984, surveillance and enforcement of illegal fishing activity and enforcement of domestic fisheries arrangements.
The sustainable management of fish stocks is supported by extensive fisheries research (see following section on Research and Monitoring).
The Commonwealth makes significant contributions to regional fisheries management to enhance sustainable fishing practices. $2.8 million over three years from 1996-97 is being provided by AusAID for a Western Samoan programme on improved fishing techniques and sustainable development of local fish and shellfish resources. $2.8 million was provided in 1996-97 to the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency and South Pacific Commission for training and management support to encourage the adoption of regional fisheries plans and development of sustainable harvesting practices.
Environment Australia Marine Programme (Marine Protected Areas)
The development of the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas representative of the full range of marine habitats and species within Australia's marine environment is one of the Government's key marine priorities. The Commonwealth is providing $6 million over the next four years through the Marine Programme of Environment Australia, part of the Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories, for scientific development of marine protected area strategies research and survey projects and public awareness programmes specifically to help expand the existing system of marine parks and reserves. Conservation and resource use, including by extractive industries, will be accommodated within multiple use marine reserve arrangements.
To date over 300 marine protected areas covering an area of almost 500,000 square kilometres, or 5 per cent of Australia's marine waters, have been declared. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park constitutes most of the declared marine park area. The major part of the Park is also included in the World Heritage list (see Ch. 9). The Commonwealth has supported the development of an Interim Marine and Coastal Regionalisation for Australia as a valuable classification tool to identify representative areas that should be placed in the National System.
Australia is the leading nation in the management of marine reserves and hosts the secretariat for the International Coral Reef Initiative which seeks to maintain biological diversity, resources and natural values of coral reefs and related ecosystems.
Control of Marine Pests
Exotic organisms transported to Australian ports in the ballast water of ships, on ships hulls or through other means, pose a substantial threat to the marine environment and marine industries.
The Commonwealth currently provides around$2 million per annum for research and the imposition of shipping control measures to control the introduction and spread of exotic marine pests.
|BOX 8.4: NEW INITIATIVE TO COMBAT MARINE PESTS
Environment Australia, in conjunction with the CSIRO Centre for Research on Introduced Marine Pests, the Australian Ballast Water Management Advisory Council and the Australian Quarantine Inspection Service are combining resources to conduct a $100,000 pilot community programme for monitoring marine pests. The programme will utilise existing community networks such as Coastcare to identify and take early action to eradicate marine pests before they become established.
Control measures and research are coordinated through the joint Commonwealth, State and shipping industry body, the Australian Ballast Water Management Advisory Council (ABWMAC), and include the development of improved management of ships' ballast water using risk assessment based decision support systems, early diagnostic testing and treatment of ships' ballast water, and early detection and possible eradication. The Government will provide an additional $1 million in 1997-98 to support ABWMAC's Strategic Ballast Water Research Programme to enhance development of pest control measures, in particular a cost effective system for managing ships' ballast water based on risk assessment.
Commonwealth Coastal Programmes
In the past, fragmented and poorly coordinated action and decision making have contributed to environmental degradation of Australia's coastal zone. The Commonwealth, in cooperation with State and local government, industry groups, non-government organisations and the community, is implementing the Commonwealth Coastal Policy through programmes to promote ecologically sustainable use of Australia's coastal zone. The policy provides an integrated framework of coastal management objectives and principles.
Commonwealth coastal programmes include:
The Commonwealth will provide over $37 million to the year 2000-01 to continue and expand coastal programmes. Further details of funding and activities for each coastal programme are included in the remaining sections of this chapter.
Coastal and Marine Planning Programme
Uncoordinated and ad hoc development has been identified as a contributing factor to the decline of coastal water quality and marine and estuarine habitats. The Government is providing $6.4 million (plus programme running costs) to the year 2000-01 under the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative for a Coastal and Marine Planning Programme to enhance integrated coastal strategic planning and coastal water quality management.
Under this programme the Commonwealth will continue to work with States, local government, the private sector, and community groups to develop plans for the protection and enhancement of coastal and marine environments. This will build on the projects presently funded under the programme.
The Coastal and Marine Planning Programme will also assist in contributing to the fulfilment of Australia's international coastal and marine environmental obligations including, for example, implementation of UNEP's Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities.
The Commonwealth is committed to encouraging direct community participation in coastal and marine environmental protection programmes. This is being achieved through community grants programmes and support for community networks.
Coastcare is the major component of the Commonwealth's coastal programmes. Over $22 million is being provided by the Government to the year 2000-01 to enhance the programme's achievements in coastal management and protection. Coastcare provides the opportunities and resources for community groups to undertake coastal management projects. Coastcare is a cooperative Commonwealth, State and local government programme, with Coastcare grants jointly funded by the Commonwealth and the States.
|BOX 8.5: COASTCARE ACHIEVEMENTS
Key achievements include:
Fisheries Action Programme
The Commonwealth's National Fisheries Action Programme (formerly Fishcare) aims to protect and restore fisheries habitats such as mangroves, estuaries and seagrass beds and to raise awareness of associated issues. The Government is allocating $6 million over five years to 2001-02 from the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative to this programme which will include a community grants component. The programme is closely linked to Landcare and Coastcare and will address fisheries and marine environment issues such as aquatic pest control, marine and estuarine habitat rehabilitation and the development of sustainable fishing practices and management plans. A further $3.8 million has been allocated to the Fisheries Action Programme from the National Rivercare Initiative for similar community based work in river catchments.
Waterwatch Australia is a community education programme which aims to promote water quality monitoring, raise community awareness of the environment, and encourage appropriate on ground activities. It is currently assisting community groups to participate in water quality monitoring at more than 400 coastal sites (also see Ch. 5).
Indigenous Communities Programmes
In recognition of the special relationship and interest Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander (ATSI) communities have with coastal and marine environments, the Commonwealth is supporting a range of coastal and marine programmes with ATSI involvement. Under the Commonwealth Coastal Policy, the Commonwealth is providing $200,000 over two years to 1997-98 for an Indigenous Fisheries Strategy to ensure indigenous fishing and aquatic resources interests are addressed in coastal management. A separate indigenous communities component is provided under Coastcare funding to encourage ATSI community participation in coastal management and rehabilitation. The Commonwealth is also providing over $200,000 over two years to 1997-98 for the development of an Integrated Natural Resources Planning Strategy to ensure the protection and sustainable use of the Torres Strait region's coastal, marine and cultural values. The strategy is being developed by the Torres Strait Regional Authority.
General Coastal and Marine Research
The Commonwealth is funding extensive research and development essential for the multiple use of Australia's marine and coastal environments. Organisations such as the CSIRO and the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) play a leading role in investigating the physical, chemical and biological processes of the oceans and coastal zones, assessing the impacts of industries such as fishing, mining and tourism on marine ecosystems, documenting marine biological diversity, maintaining collections of marine species, contributing to management plans for the conservation and sustainable use of marine living resources and marine habitats, assessing the role of the marine environment in climate processes and developing new technologies for both research and commercial application.
Along with other key Commonwealth supported research programmes in organisations such as the Australian Antarctic Division, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Cooperative Research Centres and the Australian Geological Survey Organisation, the Commonwealth is supporting significant research in a number of areas. These include aquaculture development, marine resource assessment of Australia's Exclusive Economic Zone, impacts of ocean currents and temperatures on shipping, defence and offshore structures, development of management strategies for urban, industrial and agricultural development on coastal areas and estuaries, analysis of ocean and estuarine water quality, investigating the characteristics of oceans, sea ice and atmosphere and their impact on climate variability and the development of underwater computing and communication.
CSIRO Marine Research
CSIRO performs a substantial proportion of the research of all Commonwealth funded research agencies in the marine sector, drawing on and contributing also to CSIRO's atmospheric research and, as well as fisheries research, other R&D related to uses of the marine and coastal zones. It operates a fisheries research vessel and, as a major national facility, an oceanographic research vessel. CSIRO marine research comprises:
Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS)
AIMS conducts scientific research in all tropical Australian seas and coastal regions. The Institute's objectives are to promote the conservation and sustainable development of Australia's marine resources and to support internationally competitive Australian industries. The Institute has built strong links to Australian industry and to the wider Asia Pacific region; established a long term environmental monitoring programme; and built skills and knowledge in resource assessment, especially in tropical mangrove and coral reef systems, and in setting environmental assessment standards.
Research is conducted to address the following strategic areas:
The sustainable management of fish stocks and habitats in Commonwealth and international waters is dependant on ongoing fisheries research. A significant proportion of Commonwealth funding provided for marine and coastal research is dedicated to research to support sustainable fishing practices. CSIRO and AIMS, along with organisations such as the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, Bureau of Resource Sciences and the Australian Antarctic Division conduct and support fisheries-related research in a number of fields. These include identifying marine ecosystem processes, fish stock structure and sustainable harvesting levels, impacts of fishing practices on non-target species such as seabirds and mammals, biology and genetics and impacts of exotic organisms. Research also contributes to development of sustainable fisheries management plans, reduction of by-catch from fishing operations and the use of new technologies such as satellites to monitor size and movement of fish stocks.
Commonwealth supported fisheries research in areas such as fish stock assessment, non-target species interactions and environmental impacts allows Australia to make significant contributions to various international marine based agreements such as the Convention for the Conservation of Southern Blue Fin Tuna and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources.
Cooperative Research Centres
In addition to the above research organisations the Government's Cooperative Research Centres (CRC) programme provides around $12 million per annum for marine related CRCs in research and technology applications. The CRCs for Antarctic and Southern Ocean environment, ecologically sustainable development of the Great Barrier Reef, catchment hydrology, freshwater ecology and aquaculture are providing a link between industry and key government research bodies and universities to address major marine environmental issues such as global climate change, enhancements to marine technology, improved catchment practices and sustainable management of marine and estuarine ecosystems.
Long term baseline monitoring studies are necessary to increase understanding of the marine and coastal environment, assess impacts of human activities and support research across a range of environmental issues. CSIRO and AIMS regularly collect a range of baseline monitoring data including physical oceanographic data on temperature, salinity, oxygen and nutrients from vessels and satellites and coastal water quality data from monitoring stations around Australia. CSIRO and the Bureau of Meteorology collaborate on the acquisition and analysis of sea surface and climate data from ships, drifting buoys and satellites. The Australian Oceanographic Data Centre and the Royal Australian Navy Hydrographic Service contribute to important hydrographic, sea level and oceanographic data sets derived from and used to supplement further monitoring and survey programmes. The Bureau of Meteorology is providing support for development of Australian participation in the international Global Ocean Observing System and related international ocean monitoring systems such as the Integrated Global Ocean Services System.
|BOX 8.6: GREAT BARRIER REEF MONITORING PROGRAMMES
AIMS has a long-term monitoring project which is a series of annual repeat surveys involving monitoring of coral and fish populations across the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. In addition to this, the CRC Reef Research Centre and GBRMPA are carrying out fine-scale surveys of crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS) in the Great Barrier Reef in order to understand the dynamics and geographic spread of the latest COTS outbreaks. Extensive water quality monitoring is being carried out at AIMS as well as at GBRMPA and the CRC for Ecologically Sustainable Development of the Great Barrier Reef. GBRMPA also has programmes to monitor dugong, high use tourism sites, sea temperature and fringing reefs, as well as an aerial surveillance programme to monitor activities and events on the Reef.
A Coastal Monitoring Programme is being developed to improve information for planning and management. A monitoring network is being set up with pilot monitoring sites established in the Alligator Rivers region and at Jervis Bay. Under the Coasts and Clean Seas Initiative further sites will be added to the network. The network will provide coordinated information on a range of key coastal issues. An Australian directory of Coasts and Marine Monitoring is being developed on the internet to provide coastal managers with an immediate reference to monitoring activities. The Commonwealth has also supported nine case studies nationally to identify the potential impacts and appropriate responses to the effects of climate change on coastal areas.
The Commonwealth is working with State and local government, research organisations, industry groups and the community to address the deficiencies in available knowledge of marine and coastal ecosystems.
Marine and Coastal Databases
The Government is providing over $3 million over the next four years to improve the coordination of marine and coastal research data and information. The Commonwealth is enhancing access to available information through the development and coordination of electronic management information systems and databases. These include an Australian Coastal Atlas; development of coastal resources atlases (or oil spill atlas) to assist with the preparation of contingency measures for oil or chemical spills; continuing development of the National Marine Information System which includes data on all aspects of the marine environment including fisheries, mineral resources, ocean currents and climate and distribution of marine life around our coastline; and development of the Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD) on marine protected areas to form part of CAPAD.
The Commonwealth is supporting a range of measures to improve awareness and decision making of coastal managers. Funding of over $300,000 has been provided over the last two years for educational programmes and publications to enhance public awareness of coastal and marine issues and support professional development. A short course professional development and training programme for the broad spectrum of coastal managers is being developed. A wide range of courses will be delivered over the next twelve months in conjunction with State and local government, TAFE and other educational institutions. The ANZECC Maritime Accidents and Pollution Strategy is also focussing on education and outreach programmes.
Around $60,000 has been provided in the last year for the continuing development and implementation of the CoastNet internet forum to enable researchers, coastal managers, community groups and other interested individuals to access information and communicate directly on coastal and marine issues.
The Government has provided around $500,000 in the past two years to support industry and professional groups in the development of codes of practice that promote ecologically sustainable use of coastal resources. Codes of practice have been developed or are in the final stages of development for tourism, integrated coastal planning, recreational fishing and surfing. Consultation with industry groups is under way on codes for coastal engineering, commercial fishing, aquaculture, anti fouling paints and packaging.
In addition, Waterwatch Australia offers a range of community education projects aimed at raising awareness of water quality issues for coastal waters.
Around $100,000 was provided over the last year for a National Marine Education Programme to promote and encourage public educational activities focussing on sustainable use and protection of the coastal and marine environments. Information kits were provided for students and the general community, videos have been produced for commercial and recreational fishing groups and support has been provided for special community events such as Ocean Care Day and Seaweek.