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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

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Multiple use management in the Australian marine environment: principles, definitions and elements

A report commissioned by Environment Australia June 1997

Commonwealth of Australia
ISBN 0 642 54518 9

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Executive summary

Australia is responsible for over 16 million square kilometres of ocean-one of the world's biggest ocean territories, twice the size of our continental landmass, rich in biodiversity, yet largely unexplored.

The territory includes an 11 million square kilometre Exclusive Economic Zone, and our management responsibilities create an opportunity to generate significant new wealth, as well as an obligation to ensure sustainable development.

The Commonwealth Government's Oceans Policy recognises the importance of a multiple-use and cooperative approach to achieve these objectives.

Multiple use management is underpinned by four fundamental principles-ecosystem integrity; wealth generation and resource use; equity; and participatory decision making. The successful implementation of multiple use management will require marine environment stakeholders to meet objectives and performance measures based on these principles. Success will also require strong scientific support for decision making and in the operational use of performance measures.

Effective long-term multiple use management will also require the establishment of appropriate legislative and operational frameworks.

The present fragmented approach to management of the marine environment and its resources lacks a single framework that integrates social, environmental and economic goals, and has resulted in a 'tyranny of small decisions' in which a range of governments and agencies hold often overlapping and sometimes conflicting responsibilities and jurisdiction.

Existing marine sector legislation needs to be reviewed and rationalised to identify gaps and overlaps, and steps should be taken towards establishing a consultative framework to facilitate communication and harmonise management arrangements between governments and interest groups.

Complicating the establishment of an overarching framework is the fact that ecosystems are inherently spatially-structured, and the application of multiple use management principles will inevitably be regionally-based. Key considerations in the practical application of multiple use management are:

Appropriate technical methods exist that could be developed to support this.Many competing activities take place in the marine environment. They include:

Multiple use management offers the most satisfactory approach to achieving an ecologically sustainable balance of outcomes across the broad range of uses and users of Australia's marine environment.