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Best practice mechanisms for marine use planning

A report commissioned by the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy September 1997

David Pitts Environment Science and Services

Commonwealth of Australia
ISBN 0 642 54512 X

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1. Introduction

1.1 Background

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOSC), which entered into force in 1994, provides Australia with sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf resources. Australia has declared an EEZ of approximately 11 million sq km and the area of management responsibility will increase to almost 15 million sq km when Australia's claimable continental shelf area is determined. The boundaries of Australia's EEZ and continental shelf areas beyond the EEZ are shown in Figure 1.

In addition to providing rights to utilise natural resources, the Law of the Sea Convention obliges Australia to protect and sustainably manage the ocean on the basis of the best available scientific information. Other countries are guaranteed freedom of navigation in Australian waters and may be permitted access to the living resources not being used by Australia, subject to appropriate terms and conditions and to the limits of sustainability. Australia is also signatory to a number of other conventions relating to oceans including those dealing with shipping, fisheries, biodiversity, pollution and whaling.

In August 1996, Senator the Honourable Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment, announced that the Commonwealth Government would prepare Australia's first comprehensive and integrated Oceans Policy. He also announced that the Policy would be developed by working cooperatively with the States, Territories and local governments as well as business and the wider community.

In March 1997, the Commonwealth Government released an Oceans Policy Consultation Paper entitled `Australia's Oceans: New Horizons'. Amongst other things, the Consultation Paper identifies that `Australia lacks a comprehensive framework with clear, agreed and shared objectives that can resolve conflicts and competing interests and identify management and planning gaps'. Many of the issues raised in the Consultation Paper are connected with:

One of the specific questions raised in the Consultation Paper is:

`How can different uses of the oceans be accommodated and managed to minimise conflict are there particular examples of tools or best practice in planning, management or the use of economic instruments and allocation mechanisms for living or non-renewable resources which should be considered in developing an Oceans Policy?'

In order to address this and other related issues of multiple-use resource allocation and management, the Commonwealth Department of Primary Industries and Energy has commissioned the preparation of this issues paper entitled `Best Practice Mechanisms for Marine Use Planning'. It is being funded jointly by the Fisheries Resources Research Fund (FRRF) and Environment Australia.

It is a companion volume to two other Issues Papers which are also contributing to the development of the Oceans Policy. These companion volumes are:

1.2 Terms of reference

The terms of reference for this project are contained in Appendix 1. In summary, the purpose of the project is `to examine best practice planning models applicable to the marine environment' and `to assess their applicability to a national planning framework with regard to Australia's ocean resources and the conservation of the marine environment and sustainable resource use'.

It has required the undertaking of the following four project tasks:

The consultation, data collection and analysis were undertaken over a period of slightly less than 2 months under the direction of officers from the Petroleum and Fisheries Division within the Legislation and Environment Section of the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.

In discussions with Departmental officers, given the limited time available, it was decided that the report on this project:

1.3 Sources of information

The principal sources of information used in the preparation of this paper have been:

A draft of this report was presented and discussed at an Oceans Policy Consultancies Workshop held in Canberra on 31 July - 1 August 1997. Feedback from this workshop has been incorporated into the final report, together with comments received from members of the Oceans Policy Working Group of the Intergovernmental Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development (ICESD) and various Commonwealth Government agencies.

A detailed list of persons consulted during the preparation of this report is provided in Appendix 2.

1.4 Acknowledgements

Compilation of this report would not have been possible without the kind and willing assistance provided by numerous representatives from many State and Commonwealth agencies; peak sector and other interest groups; and interested individuals. Special thanks are extended to officers from the Department of Primary Industries and Energy and Environment Australia and members of the Oceans Policy Working Group of the Intergovernmental Committee on Ecologically Sustainable Development (ICESD). For their role in overseeing the project, particular credit should go to Leanne Wilks, Peter Smith and Alison Turner from the Department of Primary Industries and Energy.