Marine bioregional planning

Temperate East Marine Region

Marine Bioregional Plan for the Temperate East Marine Region - Draft for Consultation

Prepared under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999

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CONTENTS

THIS DRAFT PLAN DOES NOT INCLUDE THE PROPOSED COMMONWEALTH MARINE RESERVES FOR THE REGION. THESE ARE ADDRESSED IN A SEPARATE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT.

MINISTERIAL FOREWORD

Draft Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan

For generations, Australians have understood the need to preserve precious areas on land as national parks. Our oceans contain many iconic, precious and fragile sites that deserve protection too.

Australia has the third-largest marine area of any nation in the world. Our oceans include a huge diversity of marine environments, from the coral-rich tropical seas of the north to the subantarctic waters of the Southern Ocean.

Our oceans are twice the size of our continental land mass: they cover almost 16 million square kilometres. In the vast area off the coast of eastern Australia, our marine territory includes the waters surrounding Lord Howe and Norfolk islands, and stretches into the Coral Sea.

The Temperate East Marine Region is home to the east coast population of the critically endangered grey nurse shark and includes the southernmost extent of many reef-building coral species. Several significant seamount ridges run parallel to the coast in this region, and scientists have recently discovered that these features support hundreds of species, including some previously unknown to science.

Australia's oceans are a direct link for trade with the world. Our commercial and recreational fishing and energy sectors help to drive economic and social prosperity in communities throughout the nation.

However, our marine environment is under long-term pressure from climate change, marine industries and pollution. Australians need their oceans to be healthy if they are going to provide us with fish to eat, a place to fish, sustainable tourism opportunities and a place for families to enjoy for generations to come.

That's why the Gillard Government has committed to developing plans to better manage our oceans and is creating a national network of Commonwealth marine reserves.

These plans are being developed under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and are backed by the best available science.

In this draft plan for the Temperate East Marine Region, you will find information about the extraordinary array of marine life and ecosystems in this part of Australia.

This draft plan will be open for input from the community for the next three months and I encourage you to have your say. The feedback received during this time will help the government finalise this plan and inform decisions on the proposed network of marine reserves in the region.

We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to put in place the measures needed to protect our precious marine environment for future generations.

Tony Burke
Minister for the Environment

HAVE YOUR SAY

The release of the draft Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan marks the start of the formal public consultation period on both the draft plan and the proposed Temperate East Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network. Members of the public will have at least 90 days to submit comments on both the draft plan and the proposed marine reserves network.

The Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities invites public feedback on the draft Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan and the proposed marine reserves network.

There are three ways to submit feedback:

Further details about the public consultation process and opportunities to be involved are available at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east. The website also contains fact sheets on specific items of interest and answers to a number of frequently asked questions. If you have any questions about how to make a submission or any other aspects of the marine bioregional planning process, please email East.MarinePlan@environment.gov.au or telephone 1800 069 352.

1 THE TEMPERATE EAST MARINE BIOREGIONAL PLAN

1.1 Goal of the plan

The Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan has been prepared under section 176 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The plan aims to strengthen the operation of the EPBC Act in the Commonwealth marine area of the Temperate East Marine Region to help ensure that the marine environment of the region remains healthy and resilient.

The bioregional plan describes the marine environment and conservation values (protected species, protected places and key ecological features) of the Temperate East Marine Region, sets out broad objectives for its biodiversity, identifies regional priorities, and outlines strategies and actions to achieve these.

1.2 Scope of the plan

This plan is for the Temperate East Marine Region, which covers the Commonwealth marine area from the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to Bermagui in southern New South Wales, as well as the waters surrounding Lord Howe and Norfolk islands. The Commonwealth marine area starts at the outer edge of state waters, usually 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometres) from the shore (the territorial sea baseline), and extends to the outer boundary of Australia's exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles from the territorial sea baseline. Commonwealth waters abut the state waters surrounding Lord Howe Island. At Norfolk Island, Commonwealth waters extend up to the high-water mark because Norfolk Island is a territory of the Commonwealth. Section 24 of the EPBC Act defines the Commonwealth marine area.

The plan does not cover state waters but, where relevant, does include information about inshore environments and the way they interact with species and habitats of the Commonwealth marine area.

Under section 176 of the EPBC Act, once a bioregional plan has been made, the minister responsible for the environment must have regard to it when making any decision under the Act to which the plan is relevant. However, the plan does not otherwise alter the scope of the minister's statutory responsibilities, nor does it narrow the matters the minister is required to take into account or may wish to take into account in making decisions. The EPBC Act provides that this plan is not a legislative instrument.

1.3 Objectives of the plan

Consistent with the objectives of the EPBC Act, and in the context of the principles for ecologically sustainable development as defined in the Act, the Temperate East Marine Bioregional Plan sets the following objectives for the Temperate East Marine Region:

1.4 Contents of the plan and supporting information resources

Part 2 of the plan describes the conservation values of the region (see Section 1.5 for the definition). Part 3 introduces the regional conservation priorities (see Section 1.5 of the separate Overview ) and outlines strategies and actions to address them.

Schedule 1 presents a full description of the pressures on the conservation values of the Temperate East Marine Region that are assessed as being of concern or of potential concern (see Section 2.2 of the Overview). Schedule 2 provides specific advice on matters of national environmental significance in the region.

A series of information resources has been produced to support implementation of this plan. Conservation value report cards summarise the most up-to-date scientific information on the distribution, conservation status, vulnerabilities, pressures and management of the Commonwealth marine environment, cetaceans, seabirds, reptiles, sharks, bony fish and protected places.

A conservation values atlas presents a series of maps detailing the location and spatial extent of conservation values (where sufficient information exists to do so). The atlas is available at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east.

These resources will be updated as significant new information becomes available.

Additionally, the bioregional profile (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east) for the East Marine Region, including the Temperate East Marine Region, is an important reference document. It provides a full description of the region with comprehensive scientific reference lists.

1.5 Definitions

Biologically important areas: These are areas where aggregations of individuals of a protected species display biologically important behaviour, such as breeding, foraging, resting or migration. Biologically important areas are those parts of a region that are particularly important for the protection and conservation of protected species. Regional advice (Schedule 2 of the plan) often relates to these areas because of their known relevance to a protected species. Regional advice focused on these areas should not be construed to mean that legislative obligations do not apply outside these areas. Biologically important areas should not be confused with 'critical habitat' as defined in the EPBC Act (see below).

Commonwealth marine environment: Section 24 of the EPBC Act defines a Commonwealth marine area. Under the EPBC Act, the environment in a Commonwealth marine area is a matter of national environmental significance (see below, and sections 23 and 24A of the EPBC Act). In this plan, the 'Commonwealth marine environment' refers to the environment in a Commonwealth marine area.

Conservation values: For the purpose of marine bioregional planning, conservation values are defined as those elements of the region that are either specifically protected under the EPBC Act, have heritage values for the purposes of the EPBC Act, or have been identified through the planning process as key ecological features in the Commonwealth marine environment. Although key ecological features are not specifically protected under the EPBC Act, the marine environment as a whole is a matter of national environmental significance under the Act. Key ecological features are identified as conservation values within the Commonwealth marine environment to help inform decisions about the marine environment.

Critical habitat: A register of critical habitat is maintained under the EPBC Act. The register lists habitats considered critical to the survival of a listed threatened species or listed threatened ecological community. Once a habitat is listed in the register, the habitat is protected when it is in or on a Commonwealth area, and the EPBC Act makes it an offence for a person to take an action that the person knows significantly damages or will significantly damage critical habitat.

Ecologically significant population: This definition applies to species listed as migratory. In accordance with the EPBC Act Policy Statement 1.1: Significant impact guidelines--matters of national environmental significance, for listed migratory species, consideration should be given to whether an ecologically significant proportion of a population is found in the area. Whether the species in the area represents an ecologically significant proportion of a population needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis, as different species have different life histories and populations. Some key factors that should be considered include the species' population status, genetic distinctiveness and species-specific behavioural patterns.

Environment minister/environment department: The minister and department administering the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Important population: This definition relates to populations of species listed as vulnerable. An important population is a population that is necessary for a species' long-term survival and recovery. This may include populations identified as such in recovery plans, and/or populations that are:

This definition is consistent with that provided in the EPBC Act Policy Statement 1.1: Significant impact guidelines--matters of national environmental significance. In accordance with these guidelines, in determining the significance of an impact on a vulnerable listed species, consideration should be given to whether an important population is found in the area.

Key ecological features: Key ecological features are elements of the Commonwealth marine environment that, based on current scientific understanding, are considered to be of regional importance for either the region's biodiversity or ecosystem function and integrity.

For the purpose of marine bioregional planning, key ecological features of the marine environment meet one or more of the following criteria:

Matters of national environmental significance: The matters of national environmental significance protected under the EPBC Act are:

Additionally, nuclear actions, including uranium mines, are a matter of national environmental significance.

Population: A population of a species is defined under the EPBC Act as an occurrence of the species in a particular area. In relation to critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable threatened species, occurrences include but are not limited to:

Protected places: Protected places are those protected under the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance (places listed as world heritage properties, national heritage places or wetlands of international importance), Commonwealth marine reserves and places deemed to have heritage value in the Commonwealth marine environment (such as places on the Commonwealth Heritage List or shipwrecks under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976).

Protected species: Species protected under the EPBC Act are commonly referred to as protected species. Under the EPBC Act, protected species can be listed as threatened, migratory or marine species. All cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected under the EPBC Act in the Australian Whale Sanctuary (and, to some extent, beyond its outer limits). It is an offence to kill, injure, take, trade, keep or move a listed species without authorisation.

Those protected species that are threatened species listed as critically endangered, endangered, vulnerable or migratory are matters of national environmental significance.

Species that do not fall in one of the two categories above and that are:

are protected under the EPBC Act but are not matters of national environmental significance.

2 THE TEMPERATE EAST MARINE REGION AND ITS CONSERVATION VALUES

The Temperate East Marine Region comprises Commonwealth marine waters from the southern boundary of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park to Bermagui in southern New South Wales. It also includes the waters surrounding Lord Howe and Norfolk islands. Commonwealth waters abut the state waters surrounding Lord Howe Island; however, they extend to the high-water mark on Norfolk Island, which is a territory of the Commonwealth (Figure 2.1).

The region covers approximately 1.47 million square kilometres of temperate and subtropical waters and abuts the coastal waters of southern Queensland and New South Wales. It extends from shallow waters on the continental shelf, 3 nautical miles (5.5 kilometres) from shore, to the deep ocean environments at the edge of Australia's exclusive economic zone, 200 nautical miles from shore.

Figure 2.1: The Temperate East Marine Region

Figure 2.1: The Temperate East Marine Region

The main physical features of the region are:

This chapter describes the conservation values of the Temperate East Marine Region, including the Commonwealth marine environment, protected species and protected places.

2.1 Conservation values-the Commonwealth marine environment

Biodiversity

The Temperate East Marine Region is characterised by a narrow continental shelf, significant variation in sea-floor features (including seamount chains and canyons), dynamic oceanography, and a unique mix of tropical and cold water reef systems. Temperate species dominate the southern parts of the region, and tropical species become progressively more common towards the north.

The region supports high levels of species richness and diversity, particularly among corals, crustaceans, echinoderms, molluscs, sea sponges and fish. Due to the latitudinal range of the region, this diversity includes both tropical and temperate species. Oceanography is another strong driver for the region's biodiversity. This is particularly true in places like Lord Howe Island and the Elizabeth and Middleton reefs where both warm and cold water species flourish alongside each other. These unusual communities are mainly supported by the tongue of warm water that is driven southwards by the East Australian Current, extending the range of tropical species.

Further offshore, this major current influences biodiversity by connecting remote communities, such as those found on the seamounts, through the transport of species between areas. Our understanding of these deeper areas is constantly developing: current data suggests that these areas support exceptional levels of species endemism (as high as 34 per cent) with little overlap in distribution across seafloor features. The varied sea-floor features in the region may function as isolated systems and could support species that may be new to science.

Key ecological features

Key ecological features are elements of the Commonwealth marine environment that, based on current scientific understanding, are considered to be of importance for the region's biodiversity or ecosystem function and integrity (see Table 2.1 and Figure 2.2).

Table 2.1: Key ecological features of the Temperate East Marine Region

FeatureDescription
Shelf rocky reefs Value: Unique sea-floor feature with ecological properties of regional significance. Along the continental shelf south of the Great Barrier Reef, communities associated with the sea-floor shift from algae-dominated communities to those dominated by attached invertebrates (including large sponges, moss animals and soft corals). This shift generally occurs at a depth of 45 m. These invertebrates create a complex habitat that supports a multitude of animals including crabs, snails, worms and starfish. These habitats support a diverse assemblage of bottom-dwelling fishes that show distinct patterns of association with shelf-reef habitats.
Canyons on the eastern continental slope Value: Unique sea-floor feature with ecological properties of regional significance. Canyon systems have a marked influence on the diversity and abundance of species, driven by the combined effects of steep and rugged topography, diverse currents, varied sea-floor types and nutrient availability. They significantly contribute to the overall habitat diversity of the sea floor, particularly by providing hard surfaces in depth zones where soft sediment habitats prevail. Large benthic animals such as sponges and feather stars are abundant, with particularly high diversity found in the upper slope regions (150-700 m). Canyons also create localised changes in productivity in the water column above them, providing feeding opportunities for a range of species, many of which are commercially important or threatened..
Tasman Front and eddy field Values: High productivity; aggregations of marine life; biodiversity and endemism. The Tasman Front is a region of intermediate productivity that separates the warm, nutrient-poor waters of the Coral Sea from the cold, nutrient-rich waters of the Tasman Sea. The front is located between 27郢晢スサ郢ァ謇假スス・ス繝サ・コS and 33郢晢スサ郢ァ謇假スス・ス繝サ・コS, moving north during winter and south in summer. It is associated with warm-core eddies, a number of which are semipermanent features..
Upwelling off Fraser Island Values: High productivity; aggregations of marine life. In two areas near Fraser Island, upwellings of cold, deep waters mix with surface waters. Tides, wind and currents draw these nutrient-rich waters onto the shelf, where they generate blooms of phytoplankton, that support animals higher in the food chain, including a number of commercially valuable and threatened species..
Tasmantid seamount chain Values: High productivity; aggregations of marine life; biodiversity and endemism. The Tasmantid seamount chain is a prominent chain of underwater volcanic mountains, plateaux and terraces that runs north-south at approximately 1550E, extending into the Tasman Basin. At the deepest point of the chain, features rise to a depth of 1400-900 m below sea level. At the northernmost extent, features rise to a depth of 400-150 m below sea level, with some breaking the surface to form islands. The Tasmantid seamount chain supports a diverse range of habitats, ranging from deep sea sponge gardens to near-pristine tropical coral reef systems. Collectively, these are biological hotspots with high species diversity. They are also known feeding and reproduction grounds for a number of open ocean species (e.g. billfish, marine turtles, marine mammals) and have high species endemism..
Lord Howe seamount chain Values: High productivity; aggregations of marine life; biodiversity and endemism. The Lord Howe seamount chain runs for approximately 1000 km along the western margin of the Lord Howe Rise, extending from Lord Howe Island in the south to Nova Bank in the north. It supports tropical shallow coral reefs and deep cold water corals..
Norfolk Ridge Value: High productivity; aggregations of marine life; biodiversity and endemism. The Norfolk Ridge occurs in a region of remnant volcanic arcs, plateaux, troughs and basins. The ridge runs southward from New Caledonia to New Zealand, between the New Caledonia Trough to the west and the Norfolk Basin to the east. There is likely to be high levels of diversity in seamount communities, caused by relatively productive sea-floor habitats that support population densities far higher than surrounding areas. Benthic habitats along the Norfolk Ridge are also thought to act as 'stepping stones' for animal dispersal, connecting deep water species from New Caledonia to New Zealand.
Elizabeth and Middleton reefs Values: Aggregations of marine life; biodiversity and endemism. Elizabeth and Middleton reefs are small, isolated, oceanic platform reefs that occur on top of the volcanic seamounts of the Lord Howe seamount chain. The reefs are impacted by the East Australian Current, exposing the area to its warm waters as well as the surrounding cooler ocean. This key ecological feature supports a diverse range of tropical and temperate marine life, including both warm and cold water corals and over 300 fish species. The lagoons of both reefs are important areas for populations of black cod and the Galapagos shark.
Figure 2.2: Key ecological features in the Temperate East Marine Region

Figure 2.2: Key ecological features in the Temperate East Marine Region

Further information on the Temperate East Marine Region's key ecological features is available in the Commonwealth marine environment report card (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east).

2.2 Conservation values-protected species

The Temperate East Marine Region is an important area for protected species (for a definition, see Section 1.5). Under the EPBC Act, species can be listed as threatened, migratory, cetacean or marine.

Threatened species are, in broad terms, those species that have been identified as being in danger of becoming extinct. Species may be listed in the following categories:

a) conservation dependent
b) vulnerable
c) endangered
d) critically endangered
e) extinct
f) extinct in the wild.

Migratory species are those species that are listed under:

Further information on the CMS, JAMBA, CAMBA and ROKAMBA is provided at www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/migratory/index.html.

Cetaceans-all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) are protected under the EPBC Act in the Australian Whale Sanctuary (and, to some extent, beyond its outer limits).

Marine species belong to taxa that the Australian Government has recognised as requiring protection to ensure their long-term conservation, in accordance with the EPBC Act (ss. 248-250). Listed marine species occurring in the Temperate East Marine Region include species of:

Protected species can be listed under more than one category.

Under the EPBC Act, species listed as threatened or migratory are matters of national environmental significance (although species listed as extinct or conservation dependent are not matters of national environmental significance-see Section 1.5). Information about species that occur in the region and are matters of national environmental significance is provided in Schedule 2.

Many of the species listed under the EPBC Act are also protected under state legislation. For example, loggerhead turtles are protected under the EPBC Act and also under New South Wales and Queensland legislation.

The lists of protected species established under the EPBC Act are updated periodically. This plan refers to the current lists of protected species in the region included in the conservation values report cards (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east). The report cards include detailed information about species groups and species distribution and ecology in the Temperate East Marine Region.

Based on current data and expert advice, biologically important areas (for a definition, see Section 1.5) are defined for some protected species. Biologically important areas and the data underpinning them are available in the Temperate East Conservation Values Atlas (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east).

2.3 Conservation values-protected places

Protected places are areas protected under the EPBC Act as matters of national environmental significance (places listed as world heritage properties, national heritage places or wetlands of international importance), Commonwealth marine reserves or places deemed to have heritage value in the Commonwealth marine environment (such as places on the Commonwealth Heritage List or shipwrecks under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976).

There are three world heritage places, three national heritage places, one Ramsar site, hundreds of historic shipwrecks and four Commonwealth marine reserves in or adjacent to the Temperate East Marine Region (Figure 2.3).

Figure 2.3: Protected places in the Temperate East Marine Region

Figure 2.3: Protected places in the Temperate East Marine Region

World heritage places

The World Heritage List identifies heritage that is of outstanding universal value. The Great Barrier Reef was included on the World Heritage List in 1981, the Lord Howe Island group was included on the World Heritage List in 1982, and the Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island was included on the list in 2010. These places are protected as matters of national environmental significance.

National heritage places

The National Heritage List includes natural, historic and Indigenous places that are of outstanding national heritage value to Australia. The Great Barrier Reef, Lord Howe Island group and Kingston and Arthurs Vale Historic Area on Norfolk Island were included on the National Heritage List in 2007.

Ramsar sites

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve was designated as a Ramsar site in 2002 due to its rare and representative examples of coral reef wetland. These wetlands support diverse marine fauna, including uncommon and undescribed fishes, and provide the only habitat for several endemic species of mollusc in a vast area of ocean. By virtue of its listing under the Ramsar Convention, Elizabeth and Middleton reefs are a matter of national environmental significance.

Historic shipwrecks

There are hundreds of historic shipwrecks in the region, but the precise location in Commonwealth waters of many of these is unknown. All wrecks that are older than 75 years are protected under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976 for their heritage, recreational, scientific and educational values. The minister can also declare protection for more recent wrecks. Information on a subset of listed historic shipwrecks can be found in the National Shipwrecks Database (www.environment.gov.au/heritage/shipwrecks/index.html).

Particularly fragile or sensitive historic shipwrecks can be designated as 'protected zones' under the Historic Shipwrecks Act 1976. These zones may cover up to an 800-metre radius around a wreck site, and may be declared where circumstances place the wreck at particular risk of interference. Within the Temperate East Marine Region, one wreck is designated as a protected zone, the AHS Centaur: a hospital ship that was torpedoed by the Japanese submarine I-77 in 1943 and sank off Cape Moreton, Queensland (Figure 2.3).

Commonwealth marine reserves

There are four Commonwealth marine reserves in the region, each with their own unique ecosystem features and protection and management measures. This section provides a brief overview of each reserve; more information is available at (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mpa/index.html).

Solitary Islands Marine Reserve (Commonwealth waters) was established in 1993 and lies off the New South Wales coast near Coffs Harbour, adjacent to the Solitary Islands Marine Park (New South Wales waters). It extends from 3 nautical miles offshore to the 50-metre depth contour, and contains a relatively undisturbed, distinct and species-rich ecosystem. Its most significant feature is Pimpernel Rock, a submerged pinnacle that provides habitat for the critically endangered east coast population of grey nurse shark, black cod and marine turtle.

Cod Grounds Commonwealth Marine Reserve was established in 2007, just south of Port Macquarie, New South Wales, to protect a significant aggregation site for the critically endangered east coast population of grey nurse shark. Covering approximately 300 hectares, the reserve is an International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Category 1a ('no take') sanctuary that protects an area of prime habitat for the species. All fishing is prohibited in the reserve.

Lord Howe Island Marine Park (Commonwealth waters) lies approximately 700 kilometres north-east of Sydney and surrounds part of the Lord Howe seamount chain. This marine park is known for its clear waters, a rich and unusual mix of tropical and temperate biodiversity, and high endemism. It contains the southernmost tropical coral reef in the world.

Elizabeth and Middleton Reefs Marine National Nature Reserve is located in the Tasman Sea, north of Lord Howe Island and approximately 600 kilometres east of Coffs Harbour, New South Wales. These reefs are the most southerly coral atolls in the world and their isolation has driven the development of unique communities. The reserve also supports one of the last remaining strongholds of black cod.

3 REGIONAL PRIORITIES, STRATEGIES AND ACTIONS

Section 176 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) provides for a bioregional plan to identify objectives for the biodiversity and other values of a region and to include priorities to achieve those objectives. The objectives for this plan are set out in Section 1.3. They are:

In the context of these objectives, Part 3:

3.1 Regional priorities

Regional priorities are key areas of focus that have been identified to inform decision-making about marine conservation and planning, as well as industry development and other human activities. The regional priorities provide context for implementing the government's statutory responsibilities, such as recovery planning for threatened species and the development and implementation of threat abatement measures. They also point to where future government initiatives and future investments in marine conservation, including in research and monitoring, would be best directed.

The identification of the regional priorities has been guided by the outcomes of the pressure analysis. This analysis considered factors such as the conservation status of conservation values, the location and extent of pressures and the expected impacts arising from conservation value-pressure interactions. In identifying regional priorities, consideration has been given to the following criteria:

Pressures

For the purpose of this plan, pressures are defined broadly as human-driven processes and events that do or can detrimentally affect the region's conservation values. These pressures were assessed during the development of this plan. In the assessment process, pressures were classified as of concern, of potential concern, of less concern or not of concern. The assessment process is described in Section 2.2 of the Overview of marine bioregional plans, and details of the outcomes are included in Schedule 1 to this plan.

There are two main sources of pressures in the Temperate East Marine Region: those associated directly with anthropogenic (human) activities and those related to climate change.

Anthropogenic pressures on marine ecosystems and biodiversity in the Temperate East Marine Region are, by global standards, low. However, the region is adjacent to the highly populated coasts of New South Wales and southern Queensland, and parts of the region closest to the coast will be subject to higher impact. These pressures are addressed, in part, by Australia's generally sound management of the marine environment.

The main drivers and sources of pressure on conservation values in the Temperate East Marine Region are:

Only a subset of conservation values and pressures assessed as being of concern or of potential concern have been identified as regional priorities. Generally, when a pressure affects multiple values and its effects are of concern for at least for some of these values, then the pressure is identified as a regional priority. Similarly, if a conservation value is, or is likely to be, affected detrimentally by multiple pressures, and at least one of the pressures has been assessed as being of concern, it is considered to be a regional priority. Other key considerations in determining pressure-based regional priorities include issues of scale, legislative responsibility, conservation status, effectiveness of existing management and level of uncertainty about distribution, abundance and status of conservation values and the pressures acting on them.

Temperate East Marine Region priorities

This plan identifies 16 regional priorities for the Temperate East Marine Region: 12 conservation values and 4 pressures.

Conservation values of regional priority are (Table 3.1):

  1. Inshore dolphins (Indo-Pacific humpback; coastal bottlenose)
  2. Marine turtles (loggerhead, hawksbill, green, leatherback)
  3. Grey nurse shark
  4. White shark
  5. Seabirds breeding on islands in the Temperate East Marine Region (21 species)
    • Lord Howe Island group: masked booby, red-tailed tropicbird, grey ternlet, shearwaters (wedge-tailed, flesh-footed, little), terns (sooty, white), noddies (common, black), petrels (black-winged, white-bellied storm, kermadec, providence)
    • Norfolk Island group: masked booby, red-tailed tropicbird, wedge-tailed shearwater, grey ternlet, terns (sooty, white), petrels (black-winged, white-necked storm, white-faced, kermadec, providence)
    • New South Wales offshore islands: Gould's petrel, little penguin, crested tern, shearwaters (short-tailed, sooty, wedge-tailed)
  6. Shelf rocky reefs
  7. Canyons of the eastern continental slope
  8. Tasman Front and eddy field
  9. Upwelling off Fraser Island
  10. Tasmantid seamount chain
  11. Lord Howe seamount chain
  12. Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

    Pressures of regional priority are (Table 3.2):
  13. Climate change
  14. Marine debris
  15. Bycatch
  16. Extraction of living resources.

Tables 3.1 and 3.2 provide more information on the regional priorities identified for the Temperate East Marine Region. Further details on the conservation values of the Temperate East Marine Region and the pressures facing them, and relevant references, are available in Schedule 1 of this plan and the conservation value report cards (www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/temperate-east).

Building on the regional priority analyses, available information and existing administrative guidelines, this plan provides advice to assist decision-makers, marine industries and other users to understand and meet the obligations that exist with respect to these priorities under the EPBC Act (see Schedule 2).

Table 3.1: Conservation values of regional priority for the Temperate East Marine Region

Conservation value Rationale (why it is a priority) Focus for conservation effort
1 Inshore dolphins
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin
(EPBC Act listed as cetacean and migratory)
Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin
(EPBC Act listed as cetacean)

The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin are known to occur in the Temperate East Marine Region. Both species are listed as cetacean, while the Indo-Pacific humpback is also listed as migratory under the EPBC Act. The Temperate East Marine Region and adjacent waters are known to support breeding and foraging/feeding areas for both species.

Given their preference for inshore habitats, dolphins are particularly vulnerable to impacts from human activities because of the overlap between their preferred habitats and the highly populated coastal fringe. This vulnerability is compounded by biological characteristics such as late-age sexual maturation and low reproduction rates.

Inshore dolphin species in the Temperate East Marine Region are subject to a number of pressures assessed as of concern: physical habitat modification (urban and coastal development), bycatch (commercial fishing) and bycatch (bather protection). A further suite of pressures is of potential concern. These are physical habitat modification (dredging and dredge spoil), climate change (ocean acidification, sea level rise, changes in sea temperature, changes in oceanography, changes hydrological regimes), oil pollution (shipping), chemical pollution (onshore activities e.g. agriculture) and nutrient pollution (onshore activities e.g. agriculture), noise pollution (shipping, urban development), collision with the vessels and marine debris.

Short-medium term:
Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal), research organisations and industry to support research, information exchange and monitoring; and to improve management initiatives relevant to inshore dolphins, particularly with regard to bycatch, urban and coastal development and bather protection initiatives.

Medium term:
Support focused research to identify biologically important areas and the potential impacts of climate change-related pressures.

2 Marine turtles
Green turtle
Hawksbill turtle
(EPBC Act listed as vulnerable, migratory and marine)
Leatherback turtle
Loggerhead turtle
(EPBC Act listed as endangered, migratory and marine)

The region and adjacent areas are known to support important nesting and/or foraging areas for all four species.

The varied use of the marine environment by marine turtles across different developmental stages (e.g. juvenile, young adult) means that they are exposed to a wide range of pressures. In the Temperate East Marine Region, marine turtles are subject to a number of pressures assessed as of concern and of potential concern, with differences in the two ratings varying between the four species. For example, bycatch was assessed as of concern to green, loggerhead and leatherback turtles, and of potential concern to hawksbill turtles. Climate change, including sea level rise, changes in sea temperatures and sand temperatures was assessed as of concern to loggerhead turtles. Changes in sea temperatures and oceanography are of potential concern to green, hawksbill and leatherback turtles, while sea level rise is of potential concern to green turtles. Other pressures, such as chemical pollution/contaminants, nutrient pollution, marine debris, light pollution, physical habitat modification, extraction of living resources, invasive species and oil pollution were rated of potential concern to one or more of the four species assessed.

The conservation status of marine turtles, the significance of the Temperate East Marine Region to their recovery, and the pressures facing them in the region make this species group a priority for conservation effort.

Short-medium term:
Improve knowledge about biologically important areas for marine turtles in the region, including the impacts of pressures on those areas. Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal), research organisations and industry to support research, information exchange and monitoring; and to improve management initiatives relevant to marine turtles, particularly with regard to bycatch, vessel collision, Indigenous harvest and climate change.

3. Grey nurse shark (east coast population)
(EPBC Act listed as critically endangered)

The Temperate East Marine Region and adjacent state waters are known to support aggregation, mating and pupping areas. The Cod Grounds and Solitary Islands are recognised as important areas for this species in Commonwealth waters. The eastern grey nurse shark population is subject to bycatch from both the commercial and recreational sectors; these pressures are assessed as of concern. Pressures of potential concern include climate change (changes in sea temperature, changes in oceanography) and human presence at sensitive sites.

The grey nurse shark is a regional priority because of the species' conservation status, the importance of the region to the species and the pressures impacting the population in the region.

Short-medium term:
Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal), research organisations and industry to support research, information exchange and monitoring; and to improve management initiatives relevant to the grey nurse shark, particularly with regard to bycatch (commercial and recreational), climate change and their increased vulnerability during the pupping season.

4 White shark
(EPBC Act listed as vulnerable)

The Temperate East Marine Region and adjacent waters are known to support aggregations of the white shark. White sharks move seasonally along the coast between temporary residence sites. These typically correspond to regions of high prey density. The Stockton Beach - Hawks Nest area and Fraser Island are recognised as aggregation areas.

The white shark is vulnerable to a number of pressures. Bycatch from the recreational fishing sector is considered of concern, while a range of additional pressures is considered of potential concern. These include bycatch (commercial fishing), extraction of living resources (non-domestic commercial fisheries), extraction of living resources (illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing) and climate change (changes in sea temperature and oceanography).

The white shark is a regional priority because of the species' conservation status, the importance of the region to the species and the pressures impacting the population in the region.

Ongoing-immediate:
Collaborate with government and non-government organisations through international agreements to implement effective conservation programs across the entire distribution range of the white shark

Short-medium term:
Improve knowledge about biologically important areas for the region's white sharks, including the impacts of pressures on those areas.

Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal), research organisations and industry to support research, information exchange and monitoring; and to improve management initiatives relevant to the white shark, particularly with regard to bycatch (commercial and recreational), climate change and their increased vulnerability at aggregation sites.

5 Seabirds breeding on islands in the Temperate East Marine Region
Masked booby
Little penguin
Red-tailed tropicbird
Grey ternlet
Shearwaters
Wedge-tailed shearwater
Short-tailed shearwater
Flesh-footed shearwater
Little shearwater
Terns (including noddies)
Sooty tern
White tern
Crested tern
Common noddy
Black noddy
Petrels
Gould's petrel (EPBC Act listed as endangered)
Kermadec petrel
Providence petrel
White-bellied storm-petrel (EPBC Act listed as vulnerable)
Black-winged petrel
White-necked storm-petrel
White-faced storm-petrel

A number of islands across the region support globally important nesting sites, most notably the Lord Howe and Norfolk Island groups, as well as a series of smaller islands along the NSW coast, including Cabbage Tree, Broughton, Little Broughton and Montague islands. In addition to nesting activity, the surrounding waters support foraging areas for chick provisioning. Seabirds breeding in the region are subject to a range of pressures. Invasive species are considered to be of concern. Pressures rated of potential concern are: climate change (changes in sea temperature and oceanography, ocean acidification), oil and chemical pollution and contaminants (shipping), marine debris, light pollution (for selected petrel and shearwater species), bycatch (for selected shearwater species) associated with commercial and recreational fishing and human presence at sensitive sites. The assessment of these pressures varied across the twenty species, and these rating examples have not been applied uniformly. Breeding seabirds are a regional priority because of their conservation status, the importance of the region in the provisioning of young, the pressures impacting populations in the region, and their status as an Australian Government policy priority.

Ongoing-immediate:
Collaborate with government and non-government organisations through international agreements to conserve seabirds, particularly by monitoring and managing invasive species pressures at key breeding sites.

Short-medium term:
Improve knowledge about biologically important areas for seabirds, including the impacts of pressures on those areas. Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal), research organisations and industry to support research, information exchange and monitoring; and to improve management initiatives relevant to breeding seabirds, particularly with regard to invasive species, climate change and their increased vulnerability during the breeding season.

6 Shelf rocky reefs

Shelf rocky reefs are a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region due to their ecological properties of regional significance. They support a diverse range of complex benthic habitats that, in turn, support diverse benthic communities.

The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated as of potential concern: bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing), physical habitat modification (fishing gear), climate change (ocean acidification, changes to sea temperature and oceanography) and marine debris.

This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term:
Increase understanding of the ecological role of shelf rocky reefs and the pressures facing them, particularly in relation to physical habitat modification and climate change.

Medium-long term:
Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change in shelf rocky reefs.

Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of the shelf rocky reefs.

7 Canyons on the eastern continental slope

The canyons on the eastern continental slope are a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region. They provide habitat (through changes in topography and productivity) that supports a diverse range of benthic, demersal and pelagic species. The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated as of potential concern: physical habitat modification, bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing), climate change (changes to sea temperature and oceanography), marine debris, and oil and chemical pollution/contaminants (shipping). This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term:
Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in canyon systems, and the pressures facing these systems, particularly in relation to physical habitat modification and climate change.

Medium-long term:
Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of canyons on the eastern continental slope.

8 Tasman Front and eddy field

The Tasman Front and eddy field is a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region. Complex and dynamic oceanographic processes support transient patches of enhanced productivity that, in turn, attract aggregations of species across trophic levels, including top predators such as tuna and sharks. This feature also supports biological connections to seamount habitats further offshore.

The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated as of potential concern: bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing), climate change (changes to sea temperature and oceanography), marine debris, and shipping-related oil and chemical pollution/contaminants.

This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term: Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning along the Tasman Front and eddy field, and the pressures facing this pelagic feature, particularly in relation to climate change.

Medium-long term: Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change along the Tasman Front and eddy field.

Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of the Tasman Front and eddy field.

9 Upwelling off Fraser Island The upwelling off Fraser Island is a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region. The nutrient-rich waters of this feature support a diverse range of species, including a number of commercially valuable and protected species. The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated as of potential concern: bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing), climate change (changes to sea temperature and oceanography), marine debris, and ship-related oil and chemical pollution. This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term:
Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in upwelling off Fraser Island, and the pressures facing this pelagic feature, particularly in relation to climate change.

Medium-long term:
Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change in upwelling of Fraser Island.

10 Tasmantid seamount chain The Tasmantid seamount chain is a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region, supporting aggregations of marine life, biodiversity and endemism. The feature supports a diverse range of habitats in temperate and subtropical waters. The feature supports significant demersal and pelagic diversity, important feeding and breeding sites for a number of open ocean species (e.g. billfish, marine turtles, marine mammals) and high levels of endemism. The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated as of potential concern: ocean acidification, bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing), climate change (changes to sea temperature and oceanography), marine debris, and shipping-related oil and chemical pollution. This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity and endemism. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term:
Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning along the Tasmantid seamount chain and the pressures on this seamount chain.

Medium-long term:
Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change along the Tasmantid seamount chain. Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of the Tasmantid seamount chain.

11 Lord Howe seamount chain

The Lord Howe seamount chain is a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region, supporting aggregations of marine life, biodiversity and endemism. This feature provides important benthic habitat diversity and is thought to act as an important biological 'stepping stone', connecting deepwater fauna from New Caledonia to New Zealand.

The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is subject to a number of pressures rated of potential concern: bycatch and extraction of living resources (commercial fishing activities), climate change (ocean acidification, changes to sea temperature and oceanography), marine debris, and shipping-related oil and chemical pollution.

This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity and endemism. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the ecological functioning of this feature.

Short-medium term:
Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning along the Lord Howe seamount chain and the pressures on this seamount chain.

Medium-long term:
Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change along the Lord Howe seamount chain.

Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of the Lord Howe seamount chain.

12 Elizabeth and Middleton reefs

The Elizabeth and Middleton reefs are a key ecological feature of the Temperate East Marine Region, supporting aggregations of marine life, biodiversity and endemism. A small and isolated area, this feature supports a diverse range of tropical and temperate marine life, including both warm water and cold water corals, and over 300 fish species. The lagoons of both reefs are strongholds for populations of black cod and the Galapagos shark.

The ecosystem functioning and integrity of this key ecological feature is vulnerable to climate change impacts, particularly changes in sea temperature and ocean acidification, pressures that have been rated as of concern. Pressures rated of potential concern are: sea level rise, changes in oceanography, marine debris, and shipping-related oil, chemical and light pollution.

This key ecological feature has been identified as a regional priority on the basis of its important contribution to the region's biodiversity and endemism, the pressures impacting on those values, and its status as an Australian Government priority as an existing Commonwealth marine reserve.

Short-medium term:
Increasing understanding of the processes driving biodiversity and ecosystem functioning at Elizabeth and Middleton reefs, and the pressures facing them. Medium-long term:
Develop indicators to monitor the nature and extent of ecological change at Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

Ensure management arrangements for marine reserves contribute to the protection and conservation of Elizabeth and Middleton reefs.

13 Climate change

Climate change (including changes in sea temperature and oceanography, ocean acidification and sea level rise) has emerged as a pressure in the Temperate East Marine Region, with the potential to impact all conservation values (key ecological features and protected species) to varying extents.

There is considerable variation in the ratings of concern and of potential concern across the conservation values. Overall, changes in sea temperatures and oceanography were considered of potential concern to many of the key ecological features and species, with ocean acidification more important for deep and shallow water reef features, cetaceans and seabirds; and sea level rise more important for habitats associated with inshore dolphins and some breeding seabirds. Increasing sand temperature was identified as a pressure for nesting marine turtles. Climate change has been identified as a priority because of the extent of predicted impacts on conservation values in the region, particularly the cumulative nature of these impacts. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the nature and extent of climate change impacts in the region.

Ongoing-immediate: Collaborate with government and non-government organisations through international agreements to understand and address the impacts of climate change, including in the Temperate East Marine Region.

Short-medium term:
Increase collaboration with relevant industries to improve understanding of climate change and its impacts on conservation values in the Temperate East Marine Region and develop improved mitigation measures.

14 Marine debris

The EPBC Act lists 'injury and fatality to vertebrate marine life caused by the ingestion of, or entanglement in, harmful marine debris' as a key threatening process. Information on the extent and impact of marine debris in the Temperate East Marine Region is limited; however, a number of activities in and adjacent to the region increase the likelihood of the prevalence of marine debris, including commercial and recreational fishing, shipping, and urban and industrial development along the coast. In the Temperate East Marine Region, marine debris has emerged as a pressure with the potential to impact on many of the region's conservation values (key ecological features and protected species). It has been assessed as of potential concern for a range of species including cetaceans, seabirds, marine turtles and all key ecological features. Marine debris has been identified as a priority because of its interaction with a range of conservation values across the region, and its status as an Australian Government policy priority. Its selection also acknowledges the need to prioritise research to further understand the nature and extent of its impacts in the region.

Ongoing-immediate:
Coordinate environmental protection efforts across relevant agencies and partner with communities to implement actions in the Marine Debris Threat Abatement Plan to manage marine debris and mitigate its impacts on conservation values in the Temperate East Marine Region.

Collaborate with government and non-government organisations through international agreements to manage marine debris and reduce its occurrence in the Temperate East Marine Region.

Short:
Collaborate with fisheries management agencies, the fishing industry and other relevant industries to improve understanding of marine debris and address its cumulative effects on the conservation values of the Temperate East Marine Region.

Medium-long term:
Increase understanding of the sources and extent of marine debris in the Temperate East Marine Region and its impacts on conservation values.

15 Bycatch

The Temperate East Marine Region supports a significant commercial fishing industry. Bycatch associated with fishing activities is one of the most pervasive pressures on conservation values in the region. Bycatch refers to marine life that is accidentally caught during fisheries operations and cannot be retained, thereby impacting on species populations and the diversity associated with key ecological features.

Bycatch from commercial fishing activities has been assessed as of concern for inshore dolphins, killer whale, marine turtles (green, loggerhead and leatherback), the grey nurse shark and foraging seabirds (selected petrel, albatross and shearwater species). It is considered of potential concern for sea snakes, hawksbill turtle, white shark, eastern gemfish, syngnathids, foraging seabirds (selected shearwater, albatross and petrel species) and a number of key ecological features (Tasman Front and eddy field, upwelling off Fraser Island, Norfolk Ridge, Tasmantid and Lord Howe seamount chains, shelf rocky reefs and canyons).

Bycatch has been identified as a priority because of its interaction with a range of conservation values across the region.

Ongoing-immediate:
Ensure that the information on bycatch and its impacts is up to date and relevant to help assess potential impacts on conservation values.

Short-medium term:
Collaborate with relevant government agencies (state, territory and federal) to support research, information exchange and monitoring in relation to bycatch; and to improve management initiatives aimed at reducing bycatch of protected species, particularly marine turtles, inshore dolphins, seabirds, sharks (grey nurse, white shark) and killer whale.

16 Extraction of living resources

Some conservation values in the Temperate East Marine Region are vulnerable to extraction of living resources from a number of sources including commercial and recreational fishing, and illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Commercial fishing effort overlaps with seven of the eight key ecological features in the region and it is unclear whether the removal of target and byproduct species is impacting the values of these features. Depending on the intensity of effort and composition of catch, the extraction of living resources from these key ecological features may affect trophic structures and ecological functioning.

The extraction of living resources via commercial fishing was assessed as of potential concern for seven key ecological features in the region including the Tasman Front and eddy field, upwelling of Fraser Island, Tasmantid seamount chain, Lord Howe seamount chain, Norfolk Ridge, shelf rocky reefs, and canyons on the eastern continental slope. The targeting of some shark species (e.g. shortfin and longfin mako) through illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activities adjacent to the region is a pressure of potential concern.

Extraction of living resources has been identified as a priority because it interacts with multiple conservation values, and because there is a limited understanding of its impacts on ecosystem functioning.

Ongoing:
Collaborate with relevant agencies to continue to improve the sustainability of fisheries management and the mitigation of fisheries impacts on conservation values in the Temperate East Marine Region.

Collaborate with government and non-government organisations through international agreements to manage illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing and reduce its occurrence in the Temperate East Marine Region.

3.2 Strategies and actions

The bioregional plan for the Temperate East Marine Region includes eight strategies to address the regional priorities:

Strategy A:

Increase collaboration with relevant research organisations to inform and influence research priorities, and to increase the uptake of research findings to inform management and administrative decision-making.

Strategy B:

Establish and manage a Commonwealth marine reserve network in the Temperate East marine Region as part of a national representative system of marine protected areas.

Strategy C:

Provide relevant, accessible and evidence-based information to support decision-making with respect to development proposals that come under the jurisdiction of the EPBC Act.

Strategy D:

Increase collaboration with fisheries management agencies and the fishing industry to improve understanding of fisheries impacts and address the cumulative effects of fisheries on the region's key ecological features and protected species.

Strategy E:

Develop partnerships with relevant industries to increase understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on the region's key ecological features and protected species.

Strategy F:

Develop targeted collaborative programs to coordinate species recovery and environmental protection efforts across Australian Government and state agencies with responsibilities for the marine environment.

Strategy G:

Improve monitoring, evaluation and reporting on ecosystem health in the marine environment.

Strategy H:

Participate in international efforts to manage conservation values and pressures of regional priority.

Within each strategy, actions have been designed to address one or more regional priorities. Some actions are not linked directly to regional priorities but have been included as enabling actions; that is, they provide the necessary foundation or mechanism for addressing the regional priorities in a coordinated, effective and efficient way.

Actions under the strategies are classified in terms of their implementation timeframe:

Strategy A: Increase collaboration with relevant research organisations to inform and influence research priorities, and increase the uptake of research findings to inform management and administrative decision-making

Strategy B: Establish and manage a Temperate East Commonwealth marine reserve network as part of the national representative system of marine protected areas

Strategy C: Provide relevant, accessible and evidence-based information to support decision-making with respect to development proposals that come under the jurisdiction of the EPBC Act

Strategy D: Increase collaboration with fisheries management agencies and the fishing industry to improve the understanding of fisheries impacts and address the cumulative effects of fisheries on the region's key ecological features and protected species

Strategy E: Develop partnerships with relevant industries to increase understanding of the impacts of anthropogenic disturbance on the region's key ecological features and protected species

Strategy F: Develop targeted collaborative programs to coordinate species recovery and environmental protection efforts across Commonwealth and state agencies with responsibilities for the marine environment

Strategy G: Improve monitoring, evaluation and reporting on ecosystem health in the marine environment

Strategy H: Participate in international efforts to manage conservation values and pressures of regional priority

1 Biodiversity is defined under the EPBC Act as the variability among living organisms from all sources (including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part) and includes:
(a) diversity within species and between species; and
(b) diversity of ecosystems.

2 Overview of marine bioregional plans is available at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/ pubs/mbp-plans.pdf

3 Productivity (or biological productivity) means the process through which algae and seagrasses transform inorganic nutrients into organic matter through photosynthesis. This process is the basis of the ocean's food web, as phytoplankton and algae are consumed by zooplankton and grazing organisms, respectively, and these are in turn consumed by larger and larger predators. Nutrient-rich waters promote and support productivity.

4 www.environment.gov.au/water/topics/wetlands/ramsar-convention/index.html

5 The Australian Whale Sanctuary was established under the EPBC Act to protect all whales and dolphins in Australian waters. The Australian Whale Sanctuary comprises the Commonwealth marine area and covers all of Australia's exclusive economic zone, which generally extends out to 200 nautical miles from the coast and includes the waters surrounding Australia's external territories, such as Christmas, Cocos (Keeling), Norfolk, and Heard and Macdonald Islands. Within the Australian Whale Sanctuary it is an offence to kill, injure or interfere with a cetacean. Severe penalties apply to anyone convicted of such offences. More information about the Australian Whale Sanctuary is available at www.environment.gov.au/coasts/species/cetaceans/ conservation/sanctuary.html

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Last updated: Monday, 27-Aug-2012 11:27:08 EST