Portfolio Marine Group, Environment Australia
Commonwealth of Australia 1997
ISBN 0 642 54560 X
2. Analysis by question
The Consultation Paper proposes a draft vision for our oceans and a draft goal and the objectives of an Oceans Policy. Do these accord with your views or what alternative vision, goal or objectives would you propose?
All of the twenty-six respondents who answered this question wanted to change the vision in some way and seven of these gave examples of what an alternative vision could be.
Most who wanted to change the vision had a particular interest that they wanted included such as:
- the need for public awareness;
- reference should be made to the people of the Asia Pacific region;
- sustainable forms of aquaculture should be developed to supplement and replace declining wild fisheries;
- need to incorporate all the desires of the Australian people;
- need to ensure the safe conservation of Australia's oceans;
- does not incorporate Indigenous people's interests, aspirations and perspectives;
- too much emphasis on use, wealth and jobs should be more on biodiversity importance and conservation;
- needs to address effective implementation by Commonwealth and States;
Most of these comments above were raised only once, except for the inclusion of Indigenous people's interests which was raised in two submissions. The perceived emphasis on use as opposed to conservation was raised in seven of the submissions.
Twenty submissions commented on the draft goal and similar comments were made about the goal as were made about the vision. The majority again commented that the goal focused too much on economic issues.
Eight submissions suggested alternative goals. All of these suggestions were aimed at promoting efficient, ecologically sustainable use of resources while conserving the biological base.
Again, the seventeen submissions which commented on the objectives raised the same issues as were raised with the vision and goal.
Seven submissions suggested alternative objectives or gave additional dot points to be added to the objectives. Some of the points raised in the suggested objectives, besides the conservation of biological diversity, were:
- promote and facilitate ecological research and technology relevant to protecting and conserving the marine ecosystem;
- provide for regular, standardised and public monitoring and reporting on the state of the marine environment;
- encourage and facilitate community education and awareness about the marine ecosystem and its importance and define mechanisms for community participation in decision making;
- promote provision of incentives for achieving goals and environmental best practice;
- set the legislative framework to ensure compliance and provision of penalties;
- define standards, criteria, mechanisms and responsibilities applying to assessment and management of impacting human activities;
- improve ecological expertise in ocean science and conservation biology;
- the establishment of a comprehensive system of marine protected areas;
- the establishment of agreed ecologically sustainable development codes for marine resource users;
- an assessment of the impact and sustainability of current marine industries;
- the effective policing and enforcement of new ecologically sustainable development management codes for marine industries;
- the prevention of land and marine based pollution;
- to recognise the primacy of biological diversity and healthy, viable ecosystems in the coastal and marine environment;
- to establish fully integrated, ecologically sustainable management of the coastal and marine environment conserving through use of the precautionary principle in decision-making focusing on bioregionsensuring intergenerational equity promoting stewardship amongst all parties;
- to ensure equity, participation, transparency and accountability throughout the formulation and implementation stages of the Oceans Policy; and
- to accept the special custodianship of Native Title, recognising the contributions made by Indigenous people to the maintenance of coastal and marine ecosystems.
Responses to specific questions
What Principles Should Underlie an Oceans Policy? For Example, User Pays Principle, the Precautionary Approach
Nineteen submissions answered this question. The majority of these answers mentioned ecologically sustainable management and the precautionary principle. Other principles listed include:
- principles outlined in the UNCLOS context, such as, freedom of navigation, international collaboration and responsibility to advance exploration and marine research to ensure sustainable exploitation, preservation and protection of the marine environment;
- a fundamental principle for planning should include a whole system approach to recognise interdependence of coastal catchments and coastal seas;
- a multiple use principle is of primary importance in policy making to coordinate the efforts to protect and enhance the ocean environment; and
- intergenerational equity should be assured.
What are the key issues relevant to an oceans policy?
Twenty-two submissions answered this question. Issues that these submissions identified as important included:
- addressing public ignorance and thereby encouraging political support for actions necessary to implement an effective policy;
- building a more substantial body of maritime knowledge and expertise in Australia;
- playing an effective role in assisting the maritime development of Australia's neighbours;
- need for adequate planning and management frameworks for aquaculture;
- research into aquaculture by Australian institutions and funding bodies needs to be increased substantially;
- the ecological and physical links between terrestrial and marine systems must be taken into consideration in the use and management of coastal zone resources;
- the degree to which an activity is dependent on being located in a particular coastal zone should be taken into account when resources are being allocated;
- development in the coastal zone should occur in accordance with predetermined strategic coastal management plans incremental linear development around coastal towns should be discouraged;
- the user-pays principle prices charged for access to coastal resources should reflect all short-term and long-long-term economic, environmental and social costs associated with use of those resources;
- economic instruments should be applied equitably across all sectors of society, although the circumstances of disadvantaged groups should be taken into account;
- biological diversity and the biological processes on which it relies should be maintained as far as practical, use of the coastal zone should have minimal adverse impacts on regional biological diversity and biological processes;
- the disposal of waste, discharges into rivers, estuaries and the ocean should be limited to the quantity and quality that the receiving environment can assimilate without suffering long-term degradation;
- individuals/organisations disposing of waste into coastal waters should at least be encouraged to share direct responsibility for management of local coastal areas and to participate in developing and implementing management strategies;
- the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders should be recognised and incorporated in resource use decision making;
- a national set of principles for responsible fisheries must be established;
- planning and management;
- surveillance and enforcement;
- Oceans Policy science and technology requirements;
- marine pollution;
- sea safety;
- sediment input from land;
- direction of Oceans Policy development;
- how the Policy is going to be implemented through the three spheres of government and internationally;
- amalgamation and coordination of oceans development and usage between local, State and Commonwealth Government.
- protection of Australia's marine sovereign and zoning boundaries;
- overcoming the problem of individuals who deem the oceans to be their responsibility;
- increased funding into scientific research in the exclusive economic zone;
- multiple use management;
- economic opportunities and limitations;
- Commonwealth-State management;
- sustainability of ocean resources;
- cultural heritage;
- current roles and responsibilities of the Bureau of Meteorology with regard to the oceans need to be recognised and included in the Policy;
- the Policy needs to recognise the need for adequate funding for routine monitoring of the physical ocean environment;
- the Oceans Policy should include a commitment to support the development and deployment of remote sensing systems for monitoring the ocean environment;
- the existing infrastructure of the Bureau and other agencies for monitoring the marine environment, managing the resulting data and providing services to marine industries should be built upon rather than duplicated;
- the Oceans Policy should not be restricted to the exclusive economic zone although the exclusive economic zone may be the prime focus of the Policy;
- the Oceans Policy should recognise Australia's international obligations and connections with regard to the oceans and the opportunities these represent;
- economic opportunities and limitations;
- conservation of biodiversity;
- stormwater management and involvement of local government;
- sewage effluent disposal and capital funding assistance;
- monitoring of fish stocks and marine environmental quality;
- development of national guidelines for mariculture;
- cooperation and agreement on marine protected areas location, protected area status and management;
- integration of natural resource management needs between Commonwealth and State waters;
- information and education about the marine environment;
- cooperative management of shipping movements and protocols dealing with chemical/biological discharges including ballast;
- development of comprehensive and compatible data bases for management decisions;
- nationally consistent protocols on mineral exploration and production;
- assistance and collaboration with States in sustainable management of land-based impacts arising from agriculture that have deleterious effects on the marine environment;
- management of identified threatened or endangered species;
- disaster planning and management for oil spills and other potentially polluting shipping cargo;
- integrated approaches to surveillance and law enforcement;
- ocean warming and the implications for future ocean management;
- emphasis on the Policy being an Australian policy, as distinct from a Commonwealth policy;
- good community consultation to ensure community input to the process;
- cetaceans and other marine wildlife;
- climate change;
- community understanding and awareness of Australia's oceans;
- multi-disciplinary research and training at tertiary level;
- data management and information accessibility;
- the over-exploitation of living marine resources, together with the associated ecological impacts of fishing methods (for example, seabird bycatch, ecosystem effects);
- protection of offshore Native Title rights;
- Indigenous people's involvement in policy development;
- Indigenous people's involvement in management.
What actions should the commonwealth government take in order to address these key issues and achieve your preferred vision? These could include actions taken in partnership with state or territory governments and/or local government or industry or community groups.
Thirteen submissions commented on what actions the Commonwealth Government should take. These comments included:
- need to develop an oceans culture, involving formal processes such as education and less structured programs involving community groups;
- conduct a study of responses of other nations to oceans issues;
- capacity development must also proceed;
- whole infrastructure for dealing with maritime issues should be reviewed and changed as necessary to accord with the implementation of the Policy;
- government needs to stress the importance of Australia's maritime future and take a strong leadership role in creating the organisations at the three levels of government that will best realise the future;
- more effort should be put into creating a maritime culture in Australia and giving greater priority to the maritime sector;
- announcement of an Oceans Policy should be accompanied by a major campaign to raise public awareness of `Maritime Australia' and of the huge potential for Australia's ocean resources to contribute to our future common wealth;
- use existing networks such as the Marine Education Society to increase marine education in schools;
- consider establishing a national maritime university with such subject areas as the use of the sea for food shipping transport and defence pharmaceuticals and biotechnology oil, gas and other sources of energy, minerals, tourism and recreation;
- initiatives need to be taken to show Australia is a regional leader prepared to cooperate in the provision of maritime services to assist with the responsible realisation of their own maritime resources;
- increase research funding for applied aquaculture projects;
- simplification of the development application process by aligning aquaculture with agriculture rather than fisheries;
- implementing training programs to assist people into the aquaculture industry;
- the entire exclusive economic zone should be zoned and managed along the lines of the Great Barrier Reef model;
- establish a central agency or authority to fulfil Australia's exclusive economic zone obligations as well as coordinate Australia's approach to the marine environment and develop a national marine base;
- establish research and development funding for technologies that will enable the exclusive economic zone to be managed, regulated and monitored effectively;
- enhanced research and development funding to minimise adverse environmental impacts from shipping operations;
- support for the development of ships that will enable the exclusive economic zone to be managed, regulated and monitored effectively;
- development of ownership of the Oceans Policy;
- there must be a cohesive system established for coordinating the actions of international, national, State and local bodies with regard to the oceans;
- zoning is necessary to ensure the current safety of ecosystems and interest groups but a more holistic approach of universal policies and then recourse for more localised variations on the universal policies should be encouraged;
- there must be a single authority with an enforcement body to police zoning and ensure that there is a coordinated approach to development and conservation;
- increased funding and development of scientific research which can be maintained by imposing a levy on mining companies and commercial fishers using Australia's oceans, and especially the exclusive economic zone the active encouragement of marine based research in Australia's universities and the formulation of a specially tasked branch of the CSIRO;
- be open with policy decisions;
- need cooperative arrangements with States and Territories;
- should have a regional approach as the ocean cannot be managed in isolation;
- needs to be one central agency, with legislated jurisdiction over the entire exclusive economic zone, delegating responsibilities at a local level;
- extractive uses can be zoned, but at least twenty per cent of the exclusive economic zone should be permanently zoned as no-take areas;
- during drafting of the Policy the Commonwealth should work closely with other spheres of government and stakeholders on achieving a coordinated and consistent approach to the Policy;
- finalise protocols and agreements for the management and protection of the Torres Strait marine environment by State and Federal agencies;
- presentation of such protocols/ agreements as appropriate to international committees;
- obtain clarification/resolution of Native Title sea claims lodged by Torres Strait claimants;
- review at regular meetings of Federal/State/Local agencies involved in the Policy;
- protect offshore native rights;
- involve Indigenous people in Oceans Policy development and management;
- development of resources and resource based projects should be controlled by the State Government to enable integration between off-shore, in-shore, coastal and land management programs.
How can different uses of the oceans be accommodated and managed to minimise conflict - Are there particular examples of tools or best practice in planning management or the use of economic instruments and allocation mechanisms for living or non-renewable resources which should be considered in developing an oceans policy?
The question on accommodation of uses was answered in nine submissions. Comments given are listed below.
- The rock lobster industry, particularly the Western Australian component, appears to provide one example of good fishery management practice. Actual or imagined conflicts with tourism and recreational activities, largely in terms of amateur fishing and with industrial activities mostly the oil and gas industry may merit further attention.
- The potential for conflict can be best addressed by increased knowledge and understanding of the issues involved and by the use and sound management of effective allocation mechanisms.
- Management to minimise conflict should convey much more of the responsibility to the stakeholders rather than to government departments, that is, government departments would provide guidelines within which the delegated groups would function.
- Encourage examination of effective ways of implementing multi-use principles in consultation with all relevant stakeholders, including industry, in Australia and examination of relevant experience in a number of other countries.
- To avoid conflict between ocean users decisions can no longer be made in isolation. An integrated network of liaising bodies between various industries is required so that decisions made for one industry do not affect another or the greater good. Increased consultation between tourism, fishing, mining and scientific industries will help to ensure usage is maximised and impact minimised.
- Duplication of oceans management is a major problem that must be tackled. A myriad of State and local bodies compete with the Commonwealth Government for marine jurisdiction whereas an integrated body liaising with State and local groups could solve this dilemma.
- Competition amongst users can be minimised through:
- multiple use model;
- inclusive management agency;
- principle of widespread public and stakeholder consultation;
- clearly defined and agreed goals; etc.
- Zoning within the exclusive economic zone would accommodate all user groups with ecologically sustainable use and maintenance of marine biodiversity.
- Need appropriate consultation with Indigenous people.
- Need to reach agreement over access to, and use of, off-shore resources.
- Recognition of Indigenous person's connections to the sea.
- Multiple use. Allocation of property rights requires government intervention to ensure that there is a balance between development and conservation/protection of the marine environment.
What opportunities are there for increasing employment and economic returns in australia through expanding existing marine-related industries or developing new ones?
Ten submissions answered this question and the comments included the following.
- Import replacement.
- Export of instrumentation for shipbuilding, environmental purposes and for offshore oil and gas industry. These require vigorous and coordinated national programs to define and exploit niche markets.
- Australian marine equipment.
- Construction of exclusive economic zone specialised vessels for Australian use and export.
- Growth of maritime activities.
- Australian environmental know-how.
- Development of an Australian high-speed vessel regional cargo service.
- Naval shipbuilding.
- Exploitation of oil and gas reserves at greater depths.
- Growth of offshore petroleum and gas industry by investing $20 billion.
- Exploration of non-renewable deep seabed resources (for example, manganese and cobalt).
- Marine renewable energies.
- Foster an environment where profit margins will not always affect job security.
- Be aware of labour-intensive industries that will create large scale employment, such as tourism.
- Ecologically sustainable ecotourism.
- Foster an environment where Australians actively seek employment and are encouraged to do so, for example, eco-tourism, where people are given a constant reminder that their livelihood comes from their surrounds.
- Recognition and promotion of coastal and marine-based tourism.
- Conservative management of fisheries for long term sustainable use.
- Maintenance of water quality, biodiversity for future fisheries, aquaculture, marine pharmaceutical values.
- Development of the aquaculture industry.
- New enforcement and management agency to make sure fisheries resources are ecologically sustainable.
- Growth of commercial fisheries, tourism and recreation, boat building, port operations and petroleum production and their associated service industries.
- Economical development through commercial enterprises.
- Traineeship and employment programs.
- Fund research into technology development.
What constraints or limitations are there on such expansion and development?
Nine submissions gave answers to this question. Comments included the following:
- entrenched attitudes, vested interests and lack of public understanding of the importance of responsible development of the maritime sector;
- hindrance to development by present government regulations;
- lack of applied research on issues such as environmental impacts, disease, immunology of species, farm management practices;
- economic viability;
- technical feasibility;
- lack of Commonwealth-State agreements;
- search for economic return will inevitably hinder the conservation goals of the Policy;
- lack of Commonwealth commitment;
- lack of State-Territory support;
- lack of widespread consultation;
- lack of appropriate funding;
- lack of development of marine scientific expertise;
- expansion and development that is not ecologically sustainable and that does not ensure maintenance of marine biodiversity;
- access to commercial fishing licenses by Indigenous people;
- limited access for exploration.
What mechanisms are there to improve commonwealth, state and territory management of the oceans?
Eight submissions commented on the mechanisms that they thought could improve management of the oceans. Three of these suggested a central agency responsible for the development of Australia's oceans resources, coordination between the Commonwealth Government and the State and Territory Governments with a capacity to delegate powers at the State, Territory and local levels.
Other comments included:
- decentralise power to the local stakeholders;
- the Oceans Policy should establish the mechanisms for management;
- appropriate consultation is required;
- development of inclusive management model;
- focus on regional management units and local actions (for example as an extension of a total catchment management group);
- an agreed management document with plans and strategies developed for the oceans by combined Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments and other interested stakeholders;
- cost benefit analyses of projects;
- State legislation that provides greater certainty is required to manage in-shore and off-shore areas; and
- procedures for assessing resource based projects in Commonwealth waters should be similar to those adopted for State waters (Western Australia).
What do you believe are the key approaches to ensuring the conservation of biodiversity and steps that should be taken to ensure the sustainability of the oceans living resources for future generations?
Eight submissions contained comments on this question. These comments included the following:
- develop more effective ways of monitoring biological populations and their variations;
- education that creates knowledge and understanding of the oceans and of the critical importance of the oceans' resources to the future of mankind;
- replace wild fishing industries with sustainable aquaculture industries;
- increased scientific research;
- enlightened best practices will help to ensure that individual areas and the oceans as a whole remain rich in biodiversity;
- focus on maintaining ecological function;
- maintenance of catchment/estuary/inshore water quality;
- maintenance of reconstruction of fisheries habitat;
- an issue based management strategy (that is, what are the threats? how can these be reduced?) with emphasis on actions;
- a region-based approach;
- ensure that any management decision, expansion or development can be shown to be ecologically sustainable,ensuring the maintenance of marine biodiversity;
- use of Indigenous people's knowledge;
- incorporation of principles of ecologically sustainable development.
Do you have any other ideas, suggestions or comments relevant to the oceans policy?
Four submissions gave ideas, suggestions or comments. These were:
- A comprehensive and detailed program to assist the development of educational services is needed by Australia's neighbours for the responsible development of their vast exclusive economic zones.
- The entire mass of Australia's waters should be viewed as a marine protected area with its intrinsic values being acknowledged before realising its utility.
- An Australian/regional management strategy should be developed, with emphasis on local actions and extensions of a total catchment management model.
- There should be emphasis on scientific understanding and adaptive management responses.
- The challenge to both the Commonwealth Government and communities of Indigenous people is to work together to develop and implement the Oceans Policy so that these communities can become self-sufficient without losing their marine-related customs, skills and knowledge.
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