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Oceans planning & management

A report commissioned by Environment Australia October 1997

Robert Lehane
Science Communication Services

Commonwealth of Australia
ISBN 0 642 54518 9

3. Report outlines

3.1 Multiple use management in the Australian marine environment

Multiple use management will be a cornerstone of Australia's Oceans Policy, as it is of the Commonwealth Coastal Policy issued in 1995 and the National Strategy for the Conservation of Australia's Biological Diversity adopted by all Australian Governments in 1996. Its principles are consistent with those set out in the Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) of 1992 to guide the development of environmental policy by the Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments.

Many key international instruments, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Convention on Biodiversity, also implicitly or explicitly recognise the central role of multiple use management.

The need to balance competing uses of the marine environment including shipping, exploitation of resources ranging from fisheries to hydrocarbons, waste disposal, laying and operation of cables and pipelines, tourism and scientific researching an ecologically sustainable manner presents major challenges. Traditional approaches based on sectoral planning have been characterised by fragmentation of legal and administrative responsibilities between spheres of government and within and between agencies. The result has been described as a `tyranny of small decisions' and a `jurisdictional nightmare'.

There is increasing recognition of the need to establish integrated mechanisms for the multiple use management of the marine environment. This does not imply the creation of a single management institution. Rather it is about creating an operational framework that, while retaining the benefits and efficiencies of sectoral management and associated expertise, brings together management of different parts of the marine environment and ensures that common objectives are achieved.

What is multiple use management?

Multiple use management aims to integrate the uses of a resource to reach an acceptable balance of outcomes across the full range of uses and users. It is underpinned by the following four fundamental principles:

Maintenance of ecosystem integrity

This includes maintaining biodiversity, the ecological processes that support both biodiversity and resource productivity, and the effective functional roles of ecosystems and biodiversity in biological systems. The application of precautionary and anticipatory decision making are central to this principle.

Wealth generation and resource use

This principle requires management and use of the marine environment for the sustainable, efficient and effective delivery of food, economic wealth, human enjoyment and human well-being.


Management of the marine environment should deliver and preserve inter-generational, intra-generational, cross-sectoral, cross-boundary and cross-cultural equity and options, including through ensuring national security. A principle of stewardship by governments and the community is implied. Inter-generational equity is sought through avoiding actions that are not potentially reversible on the time-scale of a human generation, considering long-term consequences in decision making, and restoring degraded aspects of the physical and biological environment.

Participatory framework for decision making

Decision making frameworks should include, and consider in a meaningful manner, all sectoral and community interests. They should also ensure management objectives and decision making processes are not dominated or determined by particular sectors or interest groups, and integrate sector-specific management processes. Mechanisms are required to ensure that participants have similar access to both information and investigative capacity, so they can participate meaningfully in decision making. Participants should recognise and accept that the decisions made may not be optimal for all individual interests; dispute resolution mechanisms are provided. Also provided is a capacity to monitor achievement with respect to the four principles of multiple use management, and to take corrective action as necessary.

In any application, some of these principles are likely to be given more weight than others, depending on sectoral and regional priorities, but all are necessary and fundamental to multiple use management. Identification of appropriate hierarchies of management regions, and the interconnections between them, is a key consideration in its practical application. The hierarchy of spatially based management arrangements must recognise ecological structures and processes.

Requirements for effective multiple use management

The two key elements are an appropriate legislative framework and an appropriate operational framework including a consultative mechanism, management strategies and plans, procedures for evaluation and assessment, and implementation capability.

Legislative framework

The Commonwealth's existing legislative framework for management of the marine environment consisting of international treaties and related instruments, Commonwealth legislation and inter-governmental agreements is fragmented and complex. Legislation has developed in an ad hoc manner, and as a result divisions exist between laws governing, for example, the water and the seabed, living and non-living resources, commercial and non-commercial activities, and the use and conservation of marine resources. These divisions inhibit the development of an integrated approach to resource allocation, management and conservation.

In addition, there is only limited linkage between the legislation and policies governing the different uses.

Specific problems with the existing legislative framework include the following:

It is recognised, however, that legislative change cannot be expected in the short term. Multiple use management will need to progress under the existing legislative framework while a better framework is developed. A review of all existing marine sector legislation to identify gaps and areas of overlap would be a useful step forward.

The approach adopted in the IGAE - established `to improve inter-governmental coordination of environmental management and enhance consistency and certainty in government and business decision making, while providing better environmental protection' - contains many features needed for effective multiple use management. It is broad and generally integrative, and addresses aspects of decision making structures, coordination, communication and dispute resolution. Further development of this and similar agreements has the capacity to assist progress towards national multiple use management objectives.

Operational framework

Consultative mechanism

Development of consultative forums that achieve national and cross-sectoral objectives in a cost-effective manner, and harmonise existing sectoral arrangements, is a key requirement. The approach suggested involves, firstly, identifying a relatively small number of regions, probably at the Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) scale. An LME is characterised by distinct bathymetry, hydrography, productivity, species composition and trophically interdependent populations, and covers an area of the order of 200 000 square kilometres or greater. These regions must be ecologically meaningful and have relatively few ecological and resource use connections across their boundaries. This scale would allow collation of outcomes at the national level, and provide a natural setting for the examination and discussion of management arrangements and outcomes for progressively smaller regions.

It is suggested that consultative procedures for application at the regional level should be developed on the following basis:

A small coordinating group would facilitate establishment of the national consultation process and maintain oversight of regional processes. Where they do not already exist, regional forums or advisory groups would be established. These would report through the national coordinating group to the lead agency and responsible Ministers.

Management strategies and plans

At present, fully integrated multiple use management plans are rare for marine systems. The main example in Australia is that for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, although it excludes some uses such as mining.

Implementing multiple use management requires a cross-sectoral and regional approach to planning, and the development of specific multiple use management plans. Compatible and non-compatible uses need to be identified, recognising possibilities for sequential as well as coincident use, and allowing restricted or sole use through spatial reserves and zoning.

A technical framework for the design and evaluation of prospective plans is required. This must facilitate transparent and objective evaluation of the various management actions suggested during the consultation process and contribute constructively to the identification of acceptable balances in multiple use. The resulting management plans and arrangements should give some level of certainty to individual sectoral interests while remaining flexible and responsive to both experience and future learning.

Management strategies and plans must meet a minimum set of cross-sectoral objectives based on consistent interpretation of multiple use management and ecologically sustainable development. They must also specify a monitoring program and show how monitoring would be:

Evaluation and assessment

Scientific evaluation of the performance of prospective management strategies and tactics has for some time been a key element in most marine resource management frameworks. Consequently, procedures already exist for evaluating management strategies within most sectors. Approaches range from purely statistical `before and after impact' comparisons to complex risk assessments.

The procedures adopted must be capable of demonstrating that a management plan can reasonably be expected to achieve defined objectives despite lack of complete knowledge about the ecosystem and uncertainties in implementation of the management measures.

An approach widely used in fisheries assessment is Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE). This has been shown to provide a practical and useful framework for evaluating prospective management strategies in a marine context and in transparent, participatory management forums.

The key ingredients of the MSE approach are:

The MSE approach does not seek to specify an optimal strategy or decision; instead it aims to provide decision makers and decision making forums with information on which to base a rational decision, given their own objectives, preferences and attitudes to risk. A key element of the MSE approach is that it deals explicitly with sources of uncertainty in predicting the consequences of alternative management actions. The framework is scientifically rigorous and applications are accessible to scientific scrutiny and review.

Implementation capability and process

Requirements include the financial, legal and human resources needed for effective implementation of management plans, including compliance and enforcement, and for cross-sector auditing or evaluation of the performance of the plans.

Examples of current approaches to multiple use management

In recent years, the States and Commonwealth have increasingly needed to deal with interactions between user sectors in the marine environment to achieve regional and sector-specific management objectives. Actions taken have included establishment of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), the adoption of ecologically sustainable development as an objective of the Commonwealth legislation establishing the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), the establishment of various local regional management structures and the development of new legislation in most States. The following are three examples of the approaches taken:

Western Australian legislative framework

Legislation is being developed in Western Australia under a New Horizons in Marine Management policy aimed at providing a more coordinated approach to the management of marine resources, including biodiversity. This initiative creates a Marine Parks Authority responsible for three tiers of marine reservesMarine Management Areas, Marine Parks and Nature Reserves. The first two tiers are effectively multiple use areas, with zoning for exclusion of activities and uses expected to be rare in Marine Management Areas and extensive in Marine Parks. The intention is to provide resource security for sector operations while simultaneously conserving marine biodiversity, using an overall process codified into a statutory framework.

Great Barrier Reef marine park authority (GBRMPA)

The primary goal of GBRMPA is to provide for the protection, wise use, understanding and enjoyment of the Great Barrier Reef in perpetuity. Its functions include preparation of zoning plans, conducting research and investigations, management and education. When developing zoning plans, the Authority is required to take into account a range of factors related to the conservation of the Reef and uses of the region. Wide public and interest group consultation occurs during development of the plans.

Australian fisheries management authority (AFMA)

AFMA's objectives include ensuring fisheries are conducted in a manner consistent with ecologically sustainable development, maximising the economic efficiency of fisheries, implementing cost-effective fisheries management, and ensuring accountability to the fishing industry and Australian community for management of fisheries resources. The Authority provides a sectoral management arrangement, but deals with multiple use management issues through interactions with other users of the marine environment such as aquaculture, recreational, tourism and conservation users.

Key issues

The consultants identified the following seven key action areas for the Commonwealth in the development and implementation of multiple use management:

3.2 Best practice mechanisms for marine use planning

The broad objective of this study was to examine best practice planning models applicable to the marine environment and `assess their applicability to a national planning framework with regard to Australia's ocean resources and the conservation of the marine environment and sustainable resource use.'

Four project tasks were undertaken:

The study focused on decision making processes for resource allocation and multiple use management, with the emphasis placed on practical aspects rather than theory. The view was taken that decision making will continue to occur in a decentralised fashion across a variety of sectors, States/Territories and agencies. Key issues addressed were:

Best practice defined


One of the most often heard complaints about terrestrial planning in Australia is that planning boundaries almost never coincide with ecological boundaries. This is a legacy of jurisdictional and administrative boundaries being established in isolation of ecological knowledge.

The situation is different in the oceans. The jurisdictional and administrative divisions are less complex, we are dealing primarily with common property and we have a reasonable understanding of regional ecosystem boundaries. This combination of factors provides an excellent opportunity to implement a planning regime based on ecosystems and marine biogeographic regions.

International arrangements

Under international treaties, conventions and agreements, Australia has sovereign rights over its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) and continental shelf resources, and obligations that include:


Within Australia, well developed or evolving State and Territory coastal planning regimes exist that should be recognised and endorsed as part of a national planning framework. Approaches and methods of implementation differ between States and Territories, but the ends pursued are, by and large, consistent with the types of outcomes that might be expected to emerge from the Oceans Policy.

Particular issues need to be addressed where planning requirements cross boundaries between State/Territory and Commonwealth jurisdictions. To date, such situations have been dealt with on a sector-by-sector or area-by-area basis through arrangements such as the Offshore Constitutional Settlement covering fisheries management and the Commonwealth-State agreement for the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

We are only beginning to understand the nature and extent of marine and seabed resources and values within the vast and largely unexplored area of Commonwealth jurisdiction in the EEZ. At the outer edge of the EEZ Australia shares borders with a number of countries; relevant planning processes now in place include the Timor Gap Treaty and the Torres Strait Treaty.


Broadly speaking, three scales need to be considered in the development and application of mechanisms for marine use planning. These are:

Uncertainty and irreversibility

Lack of information about ocean resources, ecological processes, values, biodiversity and impacts is an issue that needs to be faced in decision making about the allocation of marine resources and multiple or sequential resource use regimes. Even a basic understanding of resources, processes, values and impacts over the entire EEZ is at least years away. In this context, an objective should be to avoid irreversible choices.

Indigenous interests

Australia's indigenous communities have a strong and important interest in Australia's ocean resources. Marine use planning must ensure meaningful, culturally appropriate participation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, taking account of indigenous interests, aspirations and perspectives.

Management practicalities

Marine use planning in Australia must take account of:

Planning that relies on sophisticated and intensive field management over large parts of the EEZ to deliver desired outcomes is unlikely to succeed. The potential for partnerships and co-management arrangements will need to be actively explored.

The importance of common law in matters such as pollution and shipping needs to be recognised.

Role of government

Recent relevant changes in the roles of government include:

Overseas experience

A limited review of current approaches to marine use planning in other countries found no examples of planning at the oceans scale that provide much assistance in the way of best practice.


Considerations with important implications for the development of a national marine use planning framework for Australia identified in the context analysis include:

Choice of model type

Models for marine use planning can be grouped into five broad categories - ranging from those providing almost no central control to models giving a high degree of centralised control. The categories are

Individual sectors operating independently without common ends

Individual sectors and sector management agencies pursue outcomes that seek to maximise returns to their particular sector. While each sector may work under a set of multiple objectives that include consideration of environmental and sustainability issues, there is no attempt to ensure that different sectors are pursuing similar outcomes.

The following are key elements of models in this category:

Sectors operating independently with agreed common goals

Sectors and sector management agencies work independently, but in pursuit of a common and agreed set of desired outcomes. Ideally, these outcomes are derived from joint consideration of all resource values and all legitimate community needs for access to resources. In other words, the planning `ends' are developed jointly but the means of achieving them are left largely to the discretion of individual sectors.

Key elements:

Virtual organisations

This term has been coined to describe loosely coupled networks of sector and agency organisations sharing common visions and values. Goals, values and codes of conduct are agreed, and there is sharing of expertise and experience to coordinate the delivery of desired outcomes. An ongoing process of cross-sector consultation and communication is established to help foster a coordinated approach to the achievement of desired outcomes.

Key elements:

An overall coordinating body

A separate agency/body is established with an overall coordinating and facilitating role. It does not normally have direct management responsibilities; rather, its primary roles are overall policy setting, facilitation, research and possibly assistance with funding. It may have an auditing role and some reserve powers.

Key elements:

An overall management agency

An agency is established with direct sector management responsibilities. This may result in management responsibilities for particular sectors being shared between existing and new agencies.

Key elements:

Evaluation of models

The model categories demonstrating the greatest potential for achieving best practice are: Sectors Operating Independently with Agreed Common Goals; Virtual Organisations; and An Overall Coordinating Body. Of these, none is necessarily preferable to the others; the choice of best practice model will depend on the particular circumstances.

For example:

It is therefore likely that an overall best practice marine planning framework will take the form of a family of planning models tailored to meet the needs of individual circumstances.

Commonwealth roles

Consultations undertaken with sector peak bodies and State and Commonwealth Government agencies saw a wide variety of views put forward. Some of the key points that emerged are summarised below:

Points on which there is a high degree of consensus

Points on which there is a wide variety of views

Consultations undertaken with sector peak bodies and State and Commonwealth Government agencies saw a wide variety of views put forward. Some of the key points that emerged are summarised below:

Six potential broadly-based roles for the Commonwealth were identified. These are listed in Table 1, together with possible objectives, the geographical extent of each role, and examples of the ways in which objectives might be achieved.

Table 1. Potential roles for the Commonwealth

Potential role Possible objective Geographical extent Examples of ways in which of role objectives might be achieved
STEWARDSHIP To ensure that Australia meets its international obligations for sustainable use, biodiversity conservation, species protection and environmental protection Over all of Australia's marine areas
  • clarification of obligations
  • monitoring and auditing
  • reserve powers
  • develop sustainability indicators
LEADERSHIP To provide, nationally and internationally, a clear and unambiguous sense of purpose and direction for marine use and management Over all of Australia's marine areas
  • develop common and agreed desired outcomes
  • mediation
  • education
  • identify economic opportunities
COORDINATION To facilitate workable arrangements for coordinated use and management where this is necessary across governments and sectors Across Commonwealth, State and international boundaries,or where there is a clear national interest and benefit to be gained
  • memoranda of understanding
  • codes of practice
  • Ministerial councils
ISSUES OF NATIONAL IMPORTANCE To proactively address and solve, in conjunction with States and Territories, issues of national importance that sewage treatment works have the potential to place ocean values at risk Over all of Australia's marine and terrestrial areas
  • develop and implement a national Commonwealth-State program for upgrading
  • develop protocols and mechanisms for the meaningful and culturally appropriate involvement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in marine use planning and management
  • ongoing funding of integrated catchment management
INFORMATION GATHERING AND RESEARCH To help fund, facilitate and coordinate information gathering and research activities where they will contribute to better marine use planning and management Over all of Australia's marine areas
  • develop a program of priority information gathering, and research target areas
  • program funding
  • develop planning-related information systems
  • sponsor agency/sector group workshops on marine use planning issues
HANDS-ON MANAGEMENT To become more involved in marine use planning and management (either directly or by delegation) in marine areas under Commonwealth jurisdiction Over marine areas under Commonwealth jurisdiction
  • legislation
  • delegations
  • co-management arrangements
  • increased capacity for direct marine use planning and management

3.3 Management instruments for marine resource allocation and use

Ocean management has to address a range of pressing issues. These include threats to marine biodiversity and productivity arising from land-based activities. For example, population increases along Australia's coastlines have brought a rapid increase in sewage outflows into rivers, estuaries and oceans. Increases in nutrient and sediment loads in rivers affect the health of estuaries, which are important as nursery areas for many fish species and other marine organisms.

Issues related to the fishing industry include declining catches of a growing number of species due to overfishing. Bycatch has adverse impacts on non-target fish species, birds, mammals, turtles and various marine organisms. Some fishing methods, such as trawling, have lasting effects on the marine flora and ecosystem. Recreational fishing remains largely unmanaged despite its potentially large impact.

Shipping and port operations can produce a variety of environmental impacts such as pollution from oil, hazardous cargoes, anti-fouling paints, litter and sullage. Marine organisms deposited with ballast water along shipping routes and in harbours are a major cause of concern. They can adversely affect the existing marine flora and biodiversity through predation and competition, and have the potential to cause severe economic damage to ocean-based industries.

Issues relating to marine tourism and recreation include environmental impacts of tourist developments such as beach and dune erosion, loss of habitat, declines in wildlife and fisheries, and reduced water quality.

A wide range of `incentive instruments' can be employed to address marine resource management issues. The report examines how, in what circumstances, and in what combinations different instruments can help achieve particular management goals.

Incentive instruments are defined as administrative mechanisms adopted by government agencies to influence the behaviour of those who value the natural environment, make use of it, or cause adverse impacts as a side-effect of their activities. They include financial and economic instruments such as emission permit trading, user charges, developer contributions, performance bonds and management levies and legal and regulatory instruments including punitive measures designed to avoid misuse of resources and precautionary standards. Education, co-management, voluntary approaches, community based mechanisms and research can also serve as incentive instruments.

Principles guiding choice of instruments

Marine policy must deal with the diversity of uses of the marine environment, the complexities of the biological systems involved and the limited knowledge available, the common property characteristic of marine resources, the vastness of the Australian Exclusive Economic Zone, and the difficulty of enforcing regulations.

Principles that should be considered in policy design include:

User pays and polluter pays

Increasingly, the users of natural resources are having to pay the full cost of their use. Similarly, those wishing to dispose of waste products into the environment are having to pay for this right. An Australian example of user pays is the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) water reforms, which will see the full cost of supplying water reflected in the water price.

Cost sharing

This principle requires that all direct and indirect costs and benefits arising from the use of natural resources are considered. It also requires that those groups in society who benefit from the provision of non-marketable goods compensate those who provide the goods. Society pays for benefits generated by individuals' activities that do not translate into private benefit, and may finance activities that go beyond what is considered a reasonable individual level of duty or care. Industry pays for those aspects that are part of its duty of care for the resources it uses.

Sense of community, ownership, and stewardship

This principle acknowledges that individuals are motivated in their actions by a myriad of philosophies, of which the pursuit of narrow self-interest is one extreme and pure altruism the other. Many people wish to feel they are playing an active role in the solution of a problem rather than being part of it. It is important that individuals who comply with policy objectives for whatever motivational reason are reinforced in their behaviour.

Adaptive systems

Incentive instruments should be designed so that they can be easily modified in an appropriate way as better information becomes available.

Ecosystem approach

Rather than addressing individual problems by trying to rectify symptoms, it is crucial that the behaviour of systems is analysed and the causes of problems identified and addressed in a systemic manner. The underlying causes of a problem and its physical reality need to be understood in a holistic manner.

IGAE requirements

The Inter-Governmental Agreement on the Environment (IGAE) calls for the effective integration of economic and environmental considerations in decision making processes. It requires that measures adopted are cost-effective and in proportion to the significance of the environmental problems being addressed.

The IGAE demands that, in principle:

Criteria for evaluating incentive instruments

It is very unusual for one management instrument to be capable of solving a complex problem. Instead, a mix of instruments is necessary to achieve the desired outcome, which requires concerted activities from a range of stakeholders and individuals, and to account for the variability in bio-physical conditions. Assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the range of possible incentive instruments in terms of stated objectives is an essential part of policy design. The following criteria can be used in the assessment:

Potential applications of instruments

Potential applications of a range of incentive instruments in ocean use and management were considered. Some examples follow.

Incentives to improve the water quality of streams, estuaries and oceans

The flow of sediments and nutrients into streams can be reduced by planting vegetation `filter strips' along them. Covenants, involving either a compensation payment or granting of permission to subdivide and develop the remaining land, are used in the United States and Europe to promote such plantings. Soil conservation work by farmers also reduces sediment inputs, and has been promoted by education, subsidies and income tax incentives. The establishment of integrated catchment management committees is contributing to reductions in stream pollution on a broader scale.

Load-based licensing systems control pollution discharges to streams from industrial and other point sources. Increased effectiveness and economic efficiency can result if trading in the licences is allowed; tradeable discharge rights allow businesses to sell surplus licences, allowing new businesses to enter the industry. An alternative approach is to give all users shares of the total allowable discharge, and make those shares tradeable. To finance tertiary sewage treatment and ensure a higher quality of discharge to rivers and the ocean, user-based sewage service charges can be introduced, with the proceeds directed to plant upgrading.

Zoning is an important mechanism for preventing habitat loss, the single most important threat to biodiversity in both land and marine environments. An alternative offset system, which requires that there be no net loss of ecological function in an area, has been trialed in the United States. To ensure that new `offsetting' habitat is constructed, an offset licence may be complemented with a performance bond.

Incentives for sustainable fisheries

Controls in the form of temporal and spatial restrictions on fishing activities and size restrictions have the general purpose of protecting fish stocks. Input controls such as limits on numbers of boats and amount of fishing gear employed regulate the amount of effort that can be used for fishing. Instruments for controlling the output of commercial fisheries include setting a total allowable catch, which can be broken down into individual quotas for those involved in the fishery. Tradeable individual quotas improve the economic efficiency of output controls by allowing structural adjustment.

A daily bag limit is an output control instrument applicable to recreational fishing. Informing and educating recreational fishers about their impact on fish species and marine ecology, and other related issues, can increase intrinsic motivation and compliance levels. Introduction of recreational fishing licences would have the educational advantage of allowing information to be targeted more effectively. Cross-compliance mechanisms for example, preventing a person who lost his fishing licence from holding a boat licence could be introduced to further promote compliance.

The potential of private ownership in fisheries as an alternative property rights framework to open access or common property is limited to a few special cases such as oysters and abalone. Fishery share systems combine traditional management mechanisms with innovative incentive instruments. They move from individual catch quotas to shares in the total opportunity of a fishery; abandon the traditional single species management regime in favour of a multi-species system; and do not rely on a single policy mechanism but seek to combine the advantages and minimise the weaknesses of a selection of input and output control techniques. The potential exists to expand such systems into a framework combining fisheries policies with coastal, estuary and land-based management policies relevant to fisheries.

Incentives for sustainable marine tourism and recreation

Voluntary codes of conduct act as an incentive for all industry members to raise standards. Grants to industry organisations can be a cost-effective means of encouraging the development of voluntary codes, and annual tourism awards that recognise businesses with high environmental and professional standards act as a spur to other operators to do better. Accreditation - which can be voluntary or, in combination with a licence, have a regulatory basis - is particularly applicable to commercial tourism operators. It both ensures that operators are informed about the impact their operations have on the environment and encourages them to educate their clients about the environment they visit.

To stop pollution from sullage, boating licences could be introduced that require boats to be fitted with equipment that facilitates land-based sullage treatment. Regulations of this kind, called performance standards, provide an incentive for people to develop cost-effective solutions. Performance bonds are a monetary security that operators are required to set aside to ensure that adequate funds will be available for the rehabilitation of a site when its use ends. Another type of bond, an assurance bond that is returned when an activity ceases, has been proposed in the environmental literature.

Zoning by local government is an important tool in controlling tourism-related development in the coastal zone. In addition, environmental and building standards can be used to achieve policy objectives.

Managing conflict between user and interest groups

Conflict between user groups exists where the different uses are not compatible, while conflict among users within the same group results mainly from resource scarcity. The multiple use management concept (see earlier section) seeks to reach an acceptable balance of outcomes across the entire range of uses and users.

The declaration of Marine Protected Areas is a tool for regulating multiple uses; Australia's best known such area is the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. Conservation is an important use, which is balanced with a variety of commercial and recreational uses including fishing, boating and scuba-diving. Multiple uses are managed primarily by zoning. Consistent with the user pays principle, management costs may be largely covered by user charges.

Sequential use management is another way of reconciling different uses in the same area. For example, trawling areas may be spelled for a number of years for conservation purposes before being re-opened to the fishing industry.

Incentives for environmentally sound marine transport and petroleum exploration and mining

A significant source of concern is the marine organisms foreign to Australian waters contained in ballast water deposited along shipping routes and in harbours. Australia currently relies on compliance with voluntary ballast water management guidelines to minimise the risk of release of harmful marine pests and disease pathogens.

One way to increase compliance levels would be to combine these guidelines with a hefty landing fee proportional to the estimated volume of ballast water carried. Shipping companies could seek an exemption from this levy under the condition that they exchange ballast water at sea and agree to regular compliance checks. These companies could be required to lodge an assurance bond. Importers may see potential for gaining a competitive advantage in the marketplace by shipping their goods on complying vessels if they are permitted to label their product accordingly. Introduction of a regulation covering ballast water is being considered; the effort and costs involved in monitoring and enforcing compliance are likely to be substantial.

Management instruments can minimise the risk of high-cost accidents such as ship collisions and major oil spills. Special safety standards can be set for ships that carry hazardous goods. Shipping lane regulations confine the movements of vessels carrying hazardous material to `safe' corridors.

Operational discharges from bilge pumping and ballast discharges account for the bulk of oil pollution from ships. Port disposal facilities often remain unused as shipping companies seek to avoid charges and delays. This seems to indicate that increased surveillance of offshore water and severe penalties for improper disposal are required.

Australian offshore petroleum exploration and production has a good environmental record. Upholding environmental safety standards relies on co-management with the industry, whether the standards are legislated or voluntary codes of conduct. Performance bonds and assurance bonds are useful tools for shifting at least part of the environmental risks and costs to the industry. Performance bonds would be particularly applicable to ensuring the environmentally safe removal, dismantling and disposal of platforms once they are no longer required.


Table 2 provides a quick reference guide to the applicability of the incentive instruments mentioned above to various aspects of the management and use of marine resources and environments. It gives an indication of the strengths and weaknesses of individual instruments and some management frameworks - such as fishery share systems and marine protected areas - that combine a number of instruments for a specific purpose.

The policy assessments presented assume that each instrument is introduced in an effective manner - ie. that there is no government failure in setting the number of licences etc. It also assumes instruments are introduced into a previously unregulated situation - ie. that there is open access to each `sink' or `source' function supplied by the oceans. The table differentiates the criterion of economic efficiency into its interpretations as industry profitability and economic efficiency in a collective sense.

Management arrangements for Australia's oceans

The management of Australia's oceans is complicated by the existence of various jurisdictions with legislative and management functions and by policy inconsistencies across States. With institutional arrangements providing the backbone for management instruments, the following points are worth noting:

The appointment of oceans representatives to bodies that manage rural land and that implicitly permit non-point-source pollution from rural land or discharge of stormwater and sewage from urban areas would contribute to controlling the impact of land-based activity on Australia's oceans. Adding consideration of marine issues could substantially strengthen the mission of integrated catchment management. One problem with a direct representational approach, however, is that the oceans representatives might often by outvoted by others on the board of management.

An alternative option is a property-rights approach where users of land-based resources and people interested in the welfare of oceans engage in negotiations in order to avoid violations of their individual property rights. Arrangements could be introduced whereby oceans authorities and/or marine industries can acquire rights that prevent upstream users from polluting streams and estuaries.

For urban pollution such as stormwater runoff and sewage, it is possible - at least in principle - to require that the sources obtain a pollution permit. This could be issued by an oceans authority, which might set ecologically based limits for total allowable load and/or discharge concentration for each coastal catchment. Towns could be issued licences to emit pollutants into the sea, and be charged on the basis of volume and concentration.

Another essentially equivalent option would be for an oceans authority to issue a total allowable pollution level to an Environment Protection Authority or equivalent body, and then let it find the most efficient way to keep pollution from land-based sources within the defined limits. Introduction of such mechanisms would give administrative bodies a strong incentive to pursue the use of a wide range of incentive instruments.

One way to achieve more integrated management of the marine environment would be to create an Australian Oceans Management Authority or a series of authorities which, linked together, would manage all of Australia's continental shelf. Each authority might include a commercial representative, a recreational representative, an environmental representative and probably two government representatives. Coherence between regions could be achieved by appointing one person to act as the Chair or Commissioner of all authorities and having a Deputy Commissioner as the person responsible for the management of the region on a day-to-day basis. If State interests could be put to one side, as few as four regions - possibly Brisbane to Darwin, Darwin to the North West Shelf, the North West Shelf to the Great Australian Bight and the Great Australian Bight to Brisbane - could be established.

If Commonwealth-State jealousies could be put aside, an entity modelled on the Murray-Darling Basin Commission (MDBC) and its Ministerial Council would probably offer the best means of managing Australia's marine resources. This would be legislated, be consensual and not derogate from State powers. It would need to be generously endowed with money. As the MDBC has demonstrated, the main advantage of such an authority is that it can gradually acquire functions in a manner that attracts support from all States, Territories and relevant agencies.

The authority would focus on principles for oceans use and management, and the States and Territories would be given financial incentives to adopt measures consistent with these principles. Implementation could be achieved by converting an existing body into the authority or by creating a new one. A COAG process similar to that used for water reform may be useful to help establish such an authority.


The present set of policies and arrangements for managing Australia's oceans is complex. In some instances, it sets perverse incentives and is inconsistent with accepted guidelines for sustainable resource management. In a number of cases - particularly in the interface between the oceans and the land - even the most traditional guidelines are rarely followed.

The areas that offer the greatest opportunity for improvement include: