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The national oceans advisory group - Australia's oceans policy
National Oceans Office, Hobart June 2000
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Australia's Oceans Policy, launched in December 1998, is a major initiative aimed at developing an integrated and ecosystem-based approach to planning and management for all ocean uses in areas under Australia's jurisdiction. It sets out a national vision of healthy oceans: cared for, understood and used wisely for the benefit of all, now and in the future. The Policy recognises that maintenance of ocean ecosystem health and integrity is fundamental and that promotion of the strong, diverse and internationally competitive marine industry base so important in the national and regional economies depends on ensuring the long- term ecological sustainability of a wide range of ocean uses.
The National Oceans Advisory Group was formed in 1998. Its functions are to: (1) Work through and advise the National Oceans Ministerial Board on:
(a) cross-sectoral and cross-jurisdictional oceans issues, focussing on gaps, overlaps and priorities and examining matters such as integration issues and ecosystem-based planning and management;
(b) the scope and effectiveness of the Regional Marine Planning process,
(c) the views of a broad range of relevant non-government stakeholders on the implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy;
(d) regional and economic opportunities and impediments to marine industry development;
(e) other matters related to oceans planning and management, as requested by the Board;
(1) Examine and identify emerging issues in ocean planning and management; and
(2) Promote awareness of Australia's Oceans Policy amongst non-government and other stakeholders.
In December 1999, the National Oceans Office was formed as an Executive Agency under the Commonwealth Public Service Act 1999. Its functions are to:
(1) Provide secretariat and technical support to the National Oceans Ministerial Board, The National Oceans Advisory Group and Regional Marine Plan Steering Committees.
(2) Coordinate the development of Regional Marine Plans.
(3) Coordinate the overall implementation and further development of Australia's Oceans Policy.
(4) Act as the main administrative coordination point between the Commonwealth, States and Territories on oceans policy issues.
(5) Coordinate and distribute information to all stakeholders on oceans policy and regional marine planning matters; and
(6) Provide advice to the National Oceans Ministerial Board on marine research priorities related to Australia's Oceans Policy.
The Forum brought together 200 participants with an interest in the South-east Regional Marine Plan, one of the primary outcomes from the Federal Government’s Oceans Policy. Australia is responsible for managing oceans equivalent to twice the area of its landmass. Consequently a planning process has begun for marine areas around Australia, beginning with the South-east Regional Marine Plan, which would be a world first. The Region is defined by an initial assessment of large-scale ecosystems in Australia's marine jurisdictions. It includes:
The Region will also cover areas of continental shelf beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, Australia can claim rights to the seabed resources of these areas. Objectives of the National Oceans Forum
Participants at the forum came from a wide range of government agencies, research organisations, the Indigenous community, industry and environment groups. All members of The National Oceans Advisory Group attended. The participants were welcomed by the Forum host and Chair of The National Oceans Advisory Group, Dr Russell Reichelt, and listened to an address by the Minister for the Environment, The Hon Robert Hill, which established the origins and context for the South-east Regional Marine Plan. This was followed by a keynote address by Mr Mike Young of CSIRO’s Land and Water Group and a paper by the Director of the National Oceans Office, Ms Veronica Sakell on the Regional Marine Planning Process. The process Participants then moved into 20 working groups to discuss the first of what would be a series of seven issues papers relating to the marine planning process; these were interspersed with focus papers by each member of The National Oceans Advisory Group, and punctuated by two plenary sessions. Main outcomes
Throughout the discussions and regardless of their background, members of the working groups were totally constructive in their contributions, even when expressing their concerns. The dominant note was one of optimism and goodwill. Many participants expressed a desire that the process should succeed and wished it well. A number complimented their hosts on the organisation of the Forum, expressed their appreciation of the opportunity to be part of it, and looked forward to being involved in the process as it unfolded.
Day 1 Friday 14 April 2000
9.45 - 10.10 Welcome and Introduction
3.00 - 3.15 Closing Address