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Reviews and recommendations

A report commissioned by Environment Australia October 1997
Leon P. Zann and Owen Earley Centre for Coastal Management Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW

Commonwealth of Australia

3. Recommendations relevant to oceans policy themes

In this section recommendations from recent inquiries and reports are linked to the eight general themes (containing 29 subjects) identified by Environment Australia as relevant to Oceans Policy development. To each theme and subject are attached: (i) relevant reports (each designated a number: refer to Section 4. and References for identities); (ii) major environment and management issues identified (from the specific reports, State of the Marine Environment Report—SOMER (1995, 1996) and the State of the Environment Report (1996)); and (iii) a selection of relevant generic and key recommendations. As some of the themes are overlapping, sections are cross-referenced where appropriate.

3.1 Category A. rights and responsibilities:

A.1. Sovereignty, sovereign rights and responsibilities

Main inquiries/reports: 4; 8; 13; 16; 24; 26; 34.

Issues: of seabed resources; fisheries; migratory species and treaties; surveillance and defence; the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) etc

Recommendations: (1) Australia should actively participate in and promote the development of new agreements and arrangements that are in Australia's interests as a member of the global community.


A.2. Stewardship

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 4; 7; 10; 18; 20; 24; and 26.

Issues: need for industry sector and community awareness; codes of best practice and self regulation; community and conservation groups (Coastcare etc.); recreational fishing

Recommendations: (1) governments establish national guidelines for the sustainable use of resources; (2) governments promote a national marine awareness program; and (3) industries and resource users develop codes of practice and standards based on sustainable use.


3.2 Category B. governance:

B.1. Planning

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 3; 4; 7; 9; 10; 14; 15; 16; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 33; and 34.

Issues: need for strategic planning; ESD; marine and coastal bioregionalisation and national representative system of marine protected areas.

Recommendations: (1) the application of planning mechanisms be more flexible, take a holistic view incorporating economic, ecological and social considerations, and be directed specifically at achieving the long-term objectives of the resource management strategy adopted for each area; and (2) determine principles for establishing bioregional planning units and undertake bioregional planning.


B.2. Management

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 3; 4; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 13; 14; 15; 16; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 33; and 34.

Issues: need for coordinated and consistent management approaches; public review of management practices and involvement in management etc.

Recommendations: (1) ensure consistency of management approaches between all management authorities; and (2) develop effective methods for the economic analysis of management options.


B.3. Surveillance and enforcement

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 4; 7; 15; 17; 18; 19; 20; 21; 23; and 25.

Issues: implementation of UNCLOS; international treaties; transport and fishing sector involvement; Coastwatch; defence partnerships (with navy and airforce); surveillance technology etc.

Recommendations: (1) develop a legislative basis for the enforcement of ballast water guidelines; and (2) the civil surveillance and interception capabilities of agencies with enforcement responsibilities in coastal areas be increased and more coordinated.


B.4. Commonwealth/State Cooperation

Main inquiries/reports: 4; 7; 9; 10; 11; 19; 20; and 26.

Issues: lack of coordination and lack of integrated planning; jurisdictional overlaps; COAG; the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) etc.

Recommendations: (1) all levels of government, industry and the community collaborate to develop guidelines, institutions, process and legislation for marine and coastal management.


3.3 Category C. environment:

C.1. Ecological functioning and biological diversity

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 4; 7; 9; 13; 14; 18; 20; 21; 22; 24; 26; and 33.

Issues: loss of biodiversity (especially temperate seagrass, inshore corals, loss of habitat, effects of fishing and development); decline in water quality (diffuse sources, sediments and nutrients, point sources); ESD; Biodiversity Convention; marine and coastal bioregionalisation; national representative system of marine protected areas; rare, threatened and endangered species; endemic species etc.

Recommendations: (1) identify the processes and activities that have or are likely to have adverse impacts on the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity; (2) identify the components of biological diversity that are important for conservation and sustainable use; (3) increase the level of knowledge about biological diversity; (4) controls on the introduction and translocation of exotic species be given a high priority by regulatory agencies to protect the aquatic environment; and (5) all governments initiate urgent action to ensure the conservation of habitats.


C.2. Heritage values

Main inquiries/reports: 4; 7; 18; and 24.

Issues: Threats to natural (see C.1.) and cultural heritage (development, erosion, loss of integrity, loss of amenity, shipwrecks etc.); heritage listings; World Heritage Convention etc.

Recommendations: (1) governments should promote and protect marine heritage areas.


C.3. Clean seas

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 3; 4; 7; 10; 13; 16; 17; 20; and 24.

Issues: Marine pollution (nutrients and sediments; sewage, hydrocarbons, chlorinated compounds; litter); integrated coastal management; ANZECC guidelines; alien species etc.

Recommendations: (1) funding be provided to investigate the impacts of bio-accumulation of toxic substances in the marine environment; (2) Commonwealth research funding be directed to encourage the development of new wastewater treatment technology as an alternative to ocean disposal; and (3) national guidelines and standards for water quality and waste discharge (including ballast water) be prepared which should be based on the assimilation capacity of the environment.


C.4. Sea safety and maritime response

Main inquiries/reports: 16; and 30.

Issues: Oil and chemical spill response strategies; NATPLAN and REEFPLAN; sea dumping; MARPOL (Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution from Ships) etc.

Recommendations: (1) Regular inspections of vessels; (2) Oil and chemical spill contingency plans.


C.5. Meteorological services

Main inquiries/reports: 1; and 13.

Issues: sea safety; monitoring; information technology etc.

Recommendations: (1) Australia should maintain and expand its network of weather stations, ocean buoys and tidal facilities for global weather analysis and forecasting.


C.6. Climate change/climate variability

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 7; 14; and 28.

Issues: ENSO interannual changes; Greenhouse effect; UN Framework Convention on Climate Change; Bonn Climate Change Convention; carbon emissions; sea level rise; ozone depletion etc.

Recommendations: (1) Research is needed to assess the likely impacts of global climate change for Australia.


3.4 Category D. economic:

D.1. Ocean industries

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 4; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 15; 18; 20; 22; 23; 25; 26; and 32

Issues: Development and management of coastal and marine tourism; fisheries; shipping; shipbuilding; biotechnology; waste technology; conservation science; information technology; training; employment etc.

Recommendations: (1) Industry should contribute to strategic research programs dealing with sustainable management, adaptive management, production and exploitation; and (2) government should promote sustainable marine industries in Australia.


D.2. Fisheries and aquaculture

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 4; 7; 10; 15; 16; 18; 20; 21; 23; 26; and 34.

Issues: Management of commercial fisheries (employment and economic importance; declining stocks, difficulties in stock assessment, lack of monitoring of catch and effort, lack of sustainable yield models; environmental impacts etc.); recreational fisheries (high social and economic value; lack of monitoring; cumulative impacts; catch-sharing issues etc.)

Recommendations: (1) fisheries management be undertaken within an ecosystem based management framework; (2) the principles of sustainable use be used as the central framework management of commercial and recreational fisheries; (3) fishers should adopt codes of practice to encourage sustainable use; (4) management of all fisheries be based on strategic management plans that incorporate legally binding management measures providing for public input, impact assessment and review; and (5) the Commonwealth Government reviews the existing arrangements for potential foreign ownership of fishing licences within the EEZ.


D.3. Pharmaceuticals and biotechnology

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 7; and 20.

Issues: Development of bioactive compounds; maintenance of genetic diversity; inventory; intellectual ownership; release of genetically modified organisms etc.

Recommendations: (1) support the establishment of screening programs within Australia to identify genetic products of social and economic benefit; and (2) a national regulatory framework be developed to control the development and/or release of genetically engineered organisms into the environment.


D.4. Oil and gas and minerals

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 12; 13; and 31.

Issues: Maintaining petroleum production; effects of exploration and production on biodiversity; oil spills; conflicts with establishment of marine protected areas; industry codes etc.

Recommendations: (1) the Commonwealth Government should develop and establish conditions, based on those in other countries, requiring a successful bidder to carry out or contract research and development in Australia on petroleum exploration, development and recovery techniques.


D.5. Tourism

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 4; 7; 10; 15; 19; 20; 21; 24; 27; 32; and 34.

Issues: Sustained tourism; ecotourism; recreation; economic values; industry codes; impacts on coastal zone.

Recommendations: (1) promote environmentally sound ecotourism in Australia; and (2) monitor the impacts of tourism and recreation activities on marine and coastal ecosystems.


D.6. Transport and shipping

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 8; 10; 16; 17; and 30.

Issues: Prevention and treatment of shipping accidents, spills, losses of vessels; crew safety; international obligations.

Recommendations: (1) foster the creation of design and professional engineering expertise within Australia; and (2) develop and implement a national shipbuilding development program.


3.5 Category E. social:

E.1. Indigenous Issues

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 4; 7; 10; 19; 21; and 25.

Issues: Protection and application of indigenous knowledge; indigenous access to coastal and marine resources; implication of Native Title; land and sea claims etc.

Recommendations: (1) recognise the importance of harvesting native plant and animal species by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and (2) provide resources for the conservation, promotion and use of traditional knowledge in resource management.


E.2. Access and amenity

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 7; 15; 19; 20; 25; and 34.

Issues: Maintenance and management of recreational opportunities; competing activities; multiple use; recreational fishing and catch sharing.

Recommendations: (1) Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) should emphasise recreational uses that are sustainable and non-consumptive; and (2) a clear appreciation of the cultural and recreational significance of the GBRMP together with its natural significance provides a fundamental foundation for the development of management policies for the region.


E.3. Public awareness and understanding (cf. A.2; E.2)

Main inquiries/reports: 4; 7; 10; 20; 24; and 26.

Issues: Lack of awareness and information; need for environmental education and information.

Recommendations: (1) provide a program to increase public awareness of the marine environment and biological diversity.


E.4. Community participation

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 3; 4; 7; 10; 14; 19; 21; and 24.

Issues: Lack of community involvement and lack of public participation; need for regional management plans; community monitoring and restoration programs.

Recommendations: (1) public participation should be encouraged at all levels of government; and (2) encourage community based environmental monitoring and restoration.


3.6 Category F. science, engineering and capacity building:

F.1. Information, research and development for management

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 4; 7; 8; 9; 10; 11; 13; 14; 15; 18; 19; 20; 21; 22; 23; 24; 25; 26; 33; and 34.

Issues: Lack of coordination of research effort; lack of resources; need for coordination and integration; need to integrate research into decision-making; application of new technology etc.

Recommendations: (1) encourage the marine science agencies to develop an integrated science plan, in support of relevant government departments and agencies; (2) maintain a broad, well balanced program of Antarctic research; and (3) increase data collection and coordinated research into the nature and use of Australia's marine and estuarine areas.


F.2. State of the environment reporting and monitoring

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6; 7; 9; 13; 14; 17; 23; 24; 25; 26; and 34.

Issues: Lack of long-term baseline data; lack of standard methodologies and indicators; lack of quantitative data etc.

Recommendations: (1) that national guidelines for a 'state of the aquatic environment' reporting mechanism be developed; (2) resource management authorities should report annually to the community; and (3) information held by Government should be made accessible to other government departments, industry and the general public.


F.3. Science training

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 11; 14; and 26.

Issues: Lack of marine scientific expertise in Australia; need for appropriate tertiary courses and appropriate in-service training.

Recommendations: (1) review educational courses to ensure that relevant disciplines are covered to meet the needs of government, industry and the general community; and (2) encourage specialised training in key areas.


3.7 Category G. international:

G.1. Maritime boundaries (cf. A.1)

Main inquiries/reports: 15; and 34.

Issues: Foreign fishing vessel incursions (long-lining in Southern Ocean; Indonesian incursions in NW Australia; Torres Strait border etc.)

Recommendations: (1) Australia should attempt to resolve issues with other countries concerning maritime boundaries, particularly fishing incursions.


G.2. Securing an equitable share of, and access to, transboundary resources for Australia (cf. A.1; G.1)

Main inquiries/reports: 7; and 34.

Issues: Competition for migratory species (tunas, mammals, birds, turtles etc.); need for international management agreements etc.

Recommendations: (1) develop national and international management plans for the protection of migratory species.


G.3. Collaboration and cooperation (cf. A.1; G.1; G.2)

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 7; 19; 21; and 26.

Issues: Compliance with JAMBA and CAMBA; SPREP agreement; CCAMLR; Torres Strait Treaty; IWC.

Recommendations: (1) It is important that Australia maintains and improves its contribution to international marine science programs in line with other Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations.


G.4. Contribution to, and implementation of, international arrangements

Main inquiries/reports: 1; 19; and 21.

Issues: Need for regional leadership; UNCLOS; World Heritage Convention; AusAID and other assistance.

Recommendations: (1) Australia continue to pursue the establishment of formal international arrangements covering: the taking of species on the high seas; a ban on the use of large-scale drift netting on the high seas; the reduction of pollution from land-based sources; and the improvement of international shipping standards.


3.8 Category H. performance review:

Category H. performance reporting and review:

Main inquiries/reports: 2; 3; 4; 7; 18; 19; 23; and 25.

Issues: Need for public accountability, standards and performance indicators, assessment of effectiveness of management plans.

Recommendations: (1) State of the environment reporting (pressure/state/response by management); and (2) funding be subject to the fulfilment of certain performance criteria.

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