Australia: State of the Environment Second Technical Paper Series (Coasts and Oceans), Series 2
David Barratt, John Garvey and Jean Chesson
Bureau of Resource Sciences, Australia
Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2001
ISBN 0 6425 4745 9
This is the final report of the project "Implementing State of Environment Indicators for Marine Disturbance". Environment Australia contracted the Bureau of Rural Sciences (BRS) to undertake this project as input to the next State of the Environment Report which is scheduled for release in 2001.
In 1992 Australia's National Strategy for Ecologically Sustainable Development (Council of Australian Governments 1992) was endorsed by the Commonwealth, all State and Territory Governments and Local Government. Among other things, the strategy called for the introduction of regular state of the environment reporting at the national level to enhance the quality, accessibility and relevance of data relating to ecologically sustainable development.
The first major product of this reporting system was Australia: State of the Environment 1996 (State of the Environment Advisory Council 1996) - an independent, nation-wide assessment of the status of Australia's environment. The next national state of environment report is due in 2001. In order to assess changes in the environment over time it is necessary to have indicators against which performance may be reviewed. To help develop these indicators, Environment Australia commissioned reports recommending indicators for each of the seven major themes around which Commonwealth state of environment reporting is based. From these reports Environment Australia has selected the most practical and cost effective indicators for further implementation. The four indicators covered by this project were derived from the reports on estuaries and the sea (Ward et al., 1998) and biodiversity (Saunders et al., 1998).
The indicators are:
- Total of fishing bycatch (ie non-target species, discards, incidentals, etc) relative to catch of target species
- The number of fisheries management plans that have effective indicators for monitoring the level of, and the extent of reduction in, impacts on non-target organisms and their habitats (where applicable)
- The extent of fishing conducted by longline, dropline, gillnet and meshing operations
- The area of sea and seabed subject to (a) demersal trawling, (b) other trawling, (c) exploration and (d) mining.
The original tender documents required the following tasks to be performed for each of the four indicators:
- Review existing information
- Document relevant data sources
- Assemble relevant data
- Assess the quality of available data
- Present the data in a specified form
- Clarify details of indicators as required
- Assess and evaluate any real or apparent trends in the data and comment on their environmental significance.
The Bureau of Rural Sciences provided three options in its bid for the project. Environment Australia selected Option 1, the lowest cost option. Option 1 covered the review of existing information and documenting data sources for all four indicators (Tasks 1 and 2). However, with the exception of Indicator 2 and the petroleum-related aspects of Indicator 4, Tasks 3 to 7 were restricted to case studies of selected fisheries or areas and GIS analysis was restricted to the most basic level. Table 1.1 lists the agreed level of implementation for each indicator.
|1. Bycatch||sel cases*||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|2. Management plans|
|3. Line and net fishing|
|Longline||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|Dropline||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|Gillnet||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|Meshing||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|4. Trawling, exploration and extraction|
|Demersal trawl||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases||sel cases|
|Exploration||pet only*||pet only||pet only||pet only||pet only|
|Mining||pet only||pet only||pet only||pet only||pet only|
*sel cases = selected cases only, that is, specific fisheries or geographical areas
*pet only = petroleum only
This report documents the results of the project and provides recommendations for further implementation of these indicators. The Conclusions and Recommendations follow immediately after this introductory chapter to allow the reader to quickly grasp the most important outcomes. A chapter on general methods is used to present technical details that apply to two or more indicators. Each indicator is then discussed in turn using case studies as agreed to illustrate Tasks 3 to 7.