Portfolio Marine Group, Environment Australia
Commonwealth of Australia 1997
ISBN 0 642 54560 X
3. Key issues raised by the consultation paper
Comments on the vision, goal, objectives and key principles have been covered in the questions discussed above.
Planning and management
Nineteen submissions commented on planning and management. Again, the topic of a central agency was brought up by several of the submissions with emphasis on integrating marine and coastal management and coordination of sectoral policies and across spheres of government.
Other issues raised include the following:
- need for a marine planning framework and associated institutional mechanisms;
- consistency in the application of multiple and sequential use principles;
- adequacy and consistency of marine related legislation;
- responsibilities for monitoring, data acquisition and supporting research;
- access to and sharing of the benefits of genetic resources;
- the objective of fisheries management should not be to maximise the short term yield but to minimise the environmental impact of fishing;
- fisheries management must be based on the precautionary approach with emphasis on the prevention of damage, as opposed to attempts to repair mistakes through mitigation or restoration measures;
- mechanisms and planning instruments should be based on the multiple use approach and include assessment and evaluation procedures in planning for resource use and access;
- planning and management should recognise Indigenous people's rights to conduct religious and cultural activities in ocean areas.
Conservation and management of Australia's marine biodiversity
Twenty-four submissions discussed this issue. The major themes of the comments included:
- the need for research and surveys;
- the need for training of taxonomists;
- habitat loss and degradation;
- introduction of marine pests, exotic species and pathogens;
- lack of knowledge of the oceans' ecosystems;
- the need for community awareness and education;
- lack of legislative protection for endemic and endangered species;
- the establishment of the national representative system of marine protected areas needs to be progressed considerably;
- must have protected breeding and feeding habitats;
- monitoring of harvested species to ensure that rates of harvest do not cause significant decreases in population numbers.
Ten submissions gave comments on marine pollution. The majority of submissions were concerned about:
- discharge of ballast water;
- sedimentation from rivers;
- obligations relating to oil spills and marine debris;
- ocean disposal of wastes such as dredge spoil, sewage, waste water and storm water;
- integration of the efforts and actions of all spheres of government is essential;
- education programs are needed to reduce the incidence of marine refuse.
Ocean industries, employment and economic opportunities
Twenty-two submissions were interested in this issue. Some of the comments made include the following:
- the potential for tourism in and around the nations ocean's is very important in economic terms;
- improved scientific understanding in conjunction with marine ecotourism is necessary;
- the estimated economic value of the recreational fishing sector is greater than $3 billion dollars per year;
- the focus of the Oceans Policy should be on enhancing and promoting the long term viability of petroleum and oil production and other ocean-based industries;
- the Commonwealth Government must take a proactive role to promote the economic self-sufficiency of coastal Indigenous communities;
- a maritime audit could clarify the current and potential contributions of oceans to the national well-being of Australiait could confirm the economic and employment significance of the ocean industries and provide some insight into important linkages between industry sectors, multiplier effects, training and education requirements, and priorities for marine scientific and technological research;
- pharmaceuticals is the future main earner;
- it needs to be stated that both tourism and the marine pharmaceutical industry are totally reliant on maintaining biodiversity, which in turn means biodiversity is the key to Oceans Policy;
- significant economic opportunities exist for sea-based aquaculture in Australia;
- marine instrumentation industry offers other opportunities for employment and economic development;
- one way of creating large economic return is in the field of technology development.
Our scientific understanding and science technology and data
Fifteen submissions commented on these issues. The major concerns included the following:
- it is essential that scientific research is focused on work that is viewed as practical, cost efficient and timely;
- there should be a communication and consultation process set up to coordinate research programs;
- need a commitment to the increased funding of marine research;
- need to understand the operation of oceanic systems not just in order to exploit them but to protect them as well.
Nineteen submissions commented on Indigenous people's issues. The major comments included the following:
- need to include social and economic aspirations of Indigenous people;
- Native Title Act issues are best kept separate from the Oceans Policy process the ultimate outcome of these separate processes can be combined at a later date;
- Indigenous people should be allowed to take part in the management of various marine sectors;
- acknowledge the traditional use by Indigenous peoples and the long term right to that use;
- the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be recognised and incorporated in resource use decision making this requires the effective protection of cultural and intellectual property and participation in the management of resources in which people have traditional or cultural interests recognition of Indigenous people's rights to hunt, gather and fish, consistent with conservation objectives, and conservation of the resources upon which these activities are based;
- should examine the recommendations of the Resource Assessment Commission Coastal Zone Inquiry which provide suggestions for integrating Indigenous people's concerns into coastal and oceans management;
- the Policy needs to accommodate cultural values and ensure that management objectives are consistent with Indigenous people's culture the Policy must recognise that Indigenous people have traditional association with, and responsibilities for the management of, large areas of the marine environment in Australia, particularly Northern Australia.
Fifteen submissions examined this issue. Three of these submissions again suggested one centralised agency for the management of the oceans, with seven submissions stressing the need for cooperation and collaboration with State Governments and local government in development and implementation of the Policy. Four submissions commented that local government had a major role to play in planning and management and that there is a need for more resources to carry out these functions as well as devolution of power.
Other comments included the following.
- There must be a whole of Government approach to the development and implementation of an Australian Oceans Policy.
- Integrated management of resources is imperative if both economic opportunities and conservation efforts in this policy area are to be maximised.
- A national bioregional planning framework is essential for marine ecosystem-based management of Australia's oceans. Also, agreed national standards, goals, monitoring criteria and performance indicators are important for key marine activities.
- Standardised State of the Environment reporting should be done nationally, regionally and locally to assess the performance of multiple use marine management arrangements.
Fisheries and aquaculture
Seventeen submissions made comments on fisheries and aquaculture. There was not a common theme in the issues that were raised, with the Majority of submissions making comments specific to their own area of Interest. These comments included the following.
- The Oceans Policy must provide for a development of the legislative cover for recreational and sport fishing.
- Access to fishing resources will be one of the greatest challenges facing all sectors of the fishing industry in the future.
- Management of highly migratory and straddling fish stocks needs to be resolved.
- The offshore constitutional settlement (OCS) negotiations must be completed as a matter of urgency.
- The Policy needs to address the issue of climate forecasts in the management of fish stocks.
- A certain percentage of commercial fishing licences that become available, either through confiscation or new release, should be earmarked for purchase by Indigenous companies on a tender basis.
- Emphasis should be given in the Policy to assisting aquaculture by the development of government policies, research activity, community awareness and the involvement of the private sector.
- Ecologically responsible fishing is supported. To achieve this, sweeping institutional, social and economic reforms are required. Processes established to achieve ecologically responsible fisheries must be genuinely transparent to the public and enable full participation of public interest groups that have a genuine interest in protecting the health and integrity of marine ecosystems.
- There is a need for a complete and radical restructure and thorough review of commercial and recreational fishing.
- A single enforcement agency is required, funded by Federal, State and local budgets as well as revenue from a recreational fishing licence. The Australian Navy and Air Force should be involved in monitoring and enforcement, especially of our distant fishing grounds.
- Vessel monitoring systems should be compulsory on all commercial, charter and recreational craft above a certain size. The Policy could introduce the banning of setting on spawning aggregations.
- Bycatch reduction devices should be used, particularly in prawn trawlers.
- Government should support collective efforts from all stakeholders to improve standards and allow input into strategies and management plans that govern fisheries.
- Access to Australian fisheries needs to be rationalised and no new fisheries created without scientific proof of sustainability.
- Fisheries management legislation should aim to foster owner-operators and discourage large scale operations.
- There is a need for national guidelines, environmental impact assessment of development proposals, site specific information on habitats and environmental contingency levies in case of natural disasters.
- More research and monitoring should be directed to obtaining data on environmental processes affecting recruitment and catch by both commercial and recreational fishers.
- Models such as the collapse of fisheries off Newfoundland (Canada) and European Union fishing laws and practices should be used as learning aids in the creation of an Oceans Policy.
- The Government should consider implementing the principles of the Rio Earth Summit and the need for financial commitment by the Commonwealth Government and State Governments to enforce laws and regulations.
- Meaningful joint management arrangements should be set in place between coastal Aboriginal communities, the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA), Environment Australia and State and Territory fisheries and conservation agencies.
- Aspects of Aboriginal customary law dealing with marine management and fishing practices should be incorporated into legislation and policy, for example, recognising marine clan estates and protecting marine sacred sites (7 more dot points).
- Consideration should be given to the granting of regionalised non-transferable commercial fishing licences (or catch quota) to coastal Aboriginal communities.
Petroleum, oil and minerals
Five submissions raised issues under this topic. The comments follow.
- The consultation paper recognises the potential for development and growth of a marine based minerals industry, as well as the competition this is likely to generate between nations in term of technology development and research into exploration, development and management techniques in the marine environment. If Australia is to benefit directly from these developments and to retain rights to potential resources under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), it must include marine exploration and development in its policy for Australia's oceans.
- Australia's Oceans Policy should provide a framework that facilitates development of a marine-based minerals industry in an environmentally responsible way.
- To ensure development in environmentally sustainable mechanisms and to encourage the development of industry, it may be necessary to have joint and cooperative government-industry undertakings, including the facilitation of research and development.
- Islanders are prepared to maintain the moratorium on minerals and oil and gas exploration to keep their seas pollution free.
- Oil, gas and minerals exploration and production are compatible with the conservation of biodiversity and environmental protection in the marine environment. Therefore, prospective areas should not be excluded from the industry rather, they should be managed in such a way as to protect the environment whilst allowing multiple use.
- The Policy needs to recognise and acknowledge the industry's existing rights and interests created through such legislation as the Petroleum (Submerged Lands) Act 1967.
- Consistency needs to exist between Commonwealth and States in the management of mineral exploration and future production activities.
- The Policy should cover the effectiveness of disaster planning and management of oil spills and other such cargo in State and Commonwealth waters and ensure that there is consistency, efficiency and clear lines of responsibility and prompt action.
- The Policy should emphasise the need to expedite consideration and national adoption of The Guidelines for Environmental Assessment of the Sea Disposal of Dredged and Excavated Material.
- Ongoing investment in the highly capital intensive petroleum industry need to be encouraged.
Surveillance and enforcement
Twelve submissions commented on surveillance and enforcement. The major issues raised were:
- Surveillance and enforcement of rules, regulations and conditions associated with exploitation of the resources must be strict and adequately resourced.
- Severe penalties are needed for breaches. These could include confiscation of equipment, such as boats, tackle etc, monetary penalties and quota restrictions or reductions.
- An issue that could do much to increase the effectiveness of enforcement is the mandatory fitting on fishing vessels of transponders that indicate their position.
- This is an issue of considerable concern to the seafood industry, particularly in Northern Australia and in the waters around Heard and McDonald Islands in the Southern Oceans. This issue, and the requisite resources, must be adequately addressed in the Oceans Policy as it goes to the heart of our domestic and international commitments to manage adequately and appropriately the resources under our care.
- There is an urgent need for a more holistic and integrated approach to maritime surveillance and enforcement.
- Fisheries and other resources need to be monitored and access to these resources defended against illegal operators. This might be achieved in southern waters through bilateral support from New Zealand and South Africa and through working in partnership with some of the northern hemisphere CCAMLR (Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources) nations which are already policing in the region.
- The Policy needs to cover compliance with protocols, other legal instruments, effectiveness of present arrangements, assignment of responsibilities and prediction of problems.
- Increased employment opportunities exist for Aboriginal communities in coastal surveillance to include marine enforcement, quarantine operations and community ranger programs.
Shipping and sea safety
Seven submissions commented on this issue. Comments included the following.
- The integral nature of systematic management of ship safety and marine pollution prevention and its effects on efficient cost effective shipping services cannot be overstated. An internationally agreed regime is a prerequisite for effective control in this field.
- Only ships equipped to the highest standard and with competent crews should be allowed to travel in the exclusive economic zone and ships' captains should be tested regularly.
- Environmentally sensitive areas should be determined to ensure compulsory reporting and pilotage by shipping that may pose a risk of environmental harm.
- The Policy needs to highlight the importance of cooperatively managing port water quality in a way that does not restrict shipping activity and recognises the need for a clear and consistent approach.
- The Policy needs to cover the effectiveness of disaster planning and management of oil spills and other such cargo in State and Commonwealth waters and ensure that there is consistency, efficiency and clear lines of responsibility and prompt action.
Ten submissions commented on international considerations. Comments included the following.
- Australia should be seeking to improve existing international and regional agreements for conserving migratory species and seeking to develop new ones where possible. An international strategy needs to be devised that aims to see global marine conservation measures improved immeasurably.
- Far greater effort must also be expended on determining appropriate and strong implementation of conservation controls in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica.
- Bilateral agreement on bycatch code of practice inconsistent with fishing regulations of Australian States and the Commonwealth.
- Allow no export of marine species that are not adequately covered under management regimes.
- Australia's Oceans Policy must be consistent with our other international environmental obligations including the Bonn Convention, JAMBA (Japan-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement), CAMBA (China-Australia Migratory Birds Agreement) and Agenda 21. The Government has been successful in listing all southern hemisphere albatross species under the Bonn Convention. Now the Oceans Policy must be consistent with affording these species full protection.
- Australia will need to encourage conservation measures at home and abroad. Thus, any new economic activities should be assessed for possible impacts on marine species and coastal peoples throughout the region. Australia can play an important role in facilitating both species conservation and appropriate economic support for poor Asian fishing communities.
- Australia is particularly well-endowed with marine species and should act as a custodian for its own resources while simultaneously promoting wise marine management in neighbouring nations.
- Australia should not embark on activities that could increase pressure on marine species, especially where these activities would also disenfranchise poor Asian fishers (that is, seahorse culturing).
Community participation, public awareness and understanding
Five submissions were concerned about this issue and the following comments were made
- The community needs to feel they are part of the process through involvement in community monitoring programs.
- Universities are significant stakeholders in educating the community and should be considered by government as a resource easily accessible by the broader community.
- At the national, regional and local level, there is an urgent need for greater integration of Dunecare, Coastcare, MCCN (Marine and Coastal Community Network) and Fisheries Action Program projects.
- Lack of community input in key decision-making bodies (that is, Fisheries, Integrated Management Committees, Aquaculture Committee, Coast Protection Board) needs to be redressed.
- A wider cross section of the community needs to be educated on and informed about marine issues by promoting such community groups as the Marine and Coastal Community Network. The community is willing to be involved and to accept responsibility if they understand the reason for and importance of doing so.
- There should be a process of ongoing community input to policy development through establishment of a community consultative group that includes representatives of the conservation movement and Indigenous people's groups.
- There should be regular information going to the community in the form of a newsletter or existing publications.
- This section needs to assess the community's attitudes towards management of oceans what are their priorities, goals, aspirations, desires and needs? Oceans are a common resource that belong to all Australians and, therefore, all Australians have a voice in determining how ocean resources are managed and distributed. Fundamental questions, such as what type of community involvement is best for managing oceans (collaborative or community-based), need to be addressed.
- There should be adequate time allowed to work through the complex array of issues required to formulate this policy.
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