Under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), once a marine reserve has been proclaimed, the Director of National Parks must develop a management plan for the reserve.
Management plans provide for the protection and conservation of the marine reserves. Management plans have a maximum life of 10 years and must set out how the reserves are to be managed. The plans provide certainty about the activities that will be allowed in the reserves and must be consistent with the relevant Australian IUCN Reserve Management Principles which define how the marine reserves should be managed.
The process for developing management plans has been completed for the five Commonwealth marine reserve networks declared around Australia and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. Until the new management plans come into effect transitional management arrangements are in place. Under these transitional arrangements, there are no changes "on the water" for users in the new areas added to the Commonwealth marine reserve estate. If people hold an existing approval to undertake activities within Commonwealth marine reserves or the now-revoked Coral Sea Conservation Zone, they are able to continue to operate under the terms of the existing approval. No additional administrative requirements apply.
The management plan for the South-east Network will come into effect on 1 July 2013 with the management plans for the South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East Networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth marine Reserve coming into effect on 1 July 2014.
There have been two opportunities for public consultation in the development of management plans:
- Public comment was invited on a proposal to prepare a draft management plan for each regional marine reserves network and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve. This provided an opportunity to comment on what the management plan should cover.
- Draft management plans for each marine reserves network and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve were released for public comment following consideration of the first round of public consultation.
The management plans were finalised, taking account of public comments, and were approved by the Minister. A management plan, once prepared, may only be altered following the same statutory and consultative process used in its preparation.
The management plans are available on the relevant web pages for each network.
- South-west Network
- North-west Network
- North Network
- Coral Sea Reserve
- Temperate East Network
- South-east Network
Transitional management arrangements have been implemented for the new marine reserves to cover the period during which the statutory management plans are developed and then given effect in July 2014. There will be no changes in "on the water" activity for any users during this period.
Under the EPBC Act, any activity in a marine reserve requires approval from the Director of National Parks during the period between proclamation of the reserves and the implementation of a management plan. This applies to existing commercial activities including those that involve the taking of native species (fishing). The approval from the Director of National Parks is issued under section 359B of the EPBC Act. Approval can be given to both individuals and to classes of persons, and can be issued with or without conditions on the approved activity.
The Director of National Parks has issued a number of different approvals for users of the marine reserves networks. These approvals are available on the relevant web pages for each network.
Separate approvals apply to actions in the areas of former reserves. Information on the transitional arrangements in place for former Commonwealth marine reserves, Marine National Nature Reserves, Marine Parks and the Coral Sea Conservation Zone is available on individual reserve web pages.