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Portfolio Marine Group, Environment Australia
Commonwealth of Australia 1997
ISBN 0 642 54560 X
4. Other issues
A number of other issues were raised in the submissions that were not discussed in the Consultation Paper. These issues and the comments made on them are given below.
- Australia's legislative response to the ratification of UNCLOS is inadequate.
- Greater emphasis should be placed upon the laws and controls governing the import and export of marine products with great use being made of threatened species laws and treaties like CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species).
- Under UNCLOS Australia has a responsibility to manage the exclusive economic zone for the benefit of all Australians
- UNCLOS has received only partial implementation in Australia. Rectification of this situation is necessary for Australia to retain its claimed ocean areas and affect responsible management thereof. To achieve this goal the Commonwealth must address both its marine policy capabilities and outstanding issues of federalism.
- There remains an urgent need for a stronger and better coordinated national effort in monitoring and research and this could be provided by the Oceans Policy.
- Actions by Governments should include increased research funding for applied aquaculture projects, simplification of the development application process by aligning aquaculture with agriculture, rather than fisheries, and implementing training programs to help people enter the aquaculture industry.
- All research, mapping and survey operations should be majority Australian owned.
- Considerable research is needed in the management of large offshore areas in mid-ocean.
- Considerable applied research is needed in the area of best practice for ocean industries, employment and economic opportunities
- Development of an Oceans Policy for Australia provides an opportunity to explore more effective and innovative means of efficiently integrating development of our marine resources with environmental conservation.
- The Oceans Policy should provide an integrated framework based on ecologically sustainable development principles.
- Competition amongst users can be minimised through:
- multiple use model;
- inclusive management agency;
- principle of widespread public and stakeholder consultation; and
- clearly defined (agreed) goals etc.
- The Oceans Policy needs to ensure that some marine parks authorities managing larger multiple use marine parks will allow a wide range of activities.
- Multiple use of the marine environment must be considered, given there is a conflict between the properties of the ocean as a public and private good. The allocation of property rights requires government intervention to ensure that there is a balance between development and conservation/protection of the marine environment.
- Legislation needs to be created to protect habitats from damage and over-exploitation.
- The right of incidental encroachment should be legislated in relation to interaction with marine mammals.
- Freedom of navigation is an essential right and should be specifically legislated as such.
- Education programs are needed to reduce the incidence of marine refuse.
- Tourism in and around the nation's oceans may be incalculable. Marine ecotourism will become increasingly popular. Marine pollution and discharge of land-based pollutants into the marine environment must be overcome.
- There is scepticism in the tourism industry about government policy initiatives, unless they are clearly defined and targeted, they contain deliverable product and they are accompanied by a delivery timetable.
- Ship-based Antarctic tourism is a major growth industry with the potential to increase significantly the area subject to human impact in the Antarctic. Much more research is required if tourism activities are to be managed so that visitors cause minimal environmental impact while enjoying and appreciating the uniqueness of Antarctica.
- There is a lack of codes of practice, guidelines and industry standards for tourism activities.
- There is no definition of `sensitive areas' (to minimise or exclude the impacts of tourism).
- There are no procedures to identify `viewsheds' and maintenance of scenic amenities.
- There is a lack of information on the environmental impacts of tourism activities.
- There is no definition of `carrying capacity' (that is, visitor numbers and activities) for sensitive areas.
- There is a need for regional tourism icons (that is, Marine Reserves, Marine Parks).
- There is a need for regional tourism infrastructure and resource information.
- The central importance of winning the public relations battle needs to be emphasised in order to legitimise the scale of expenditure that the Commonwealth will need to undertake in developing an Oceans Policy.
Marine protected areas
- It must be recognised that some tropical reefs are sources of juveniles and others are sinks, hence a regional approach needs to be taken to Marine Protected Areas to ensure longevity of coral reefs in Australia and the regions.
- The multiple use approach must be recognised as the most appropriate to planning and managing the use of oceans. More research is needed to facilitate large area management especially when stakeholders include international users.
- There is a need for an integrated marine management approach that clearly recognises the range of industrial uses of the ocean and seabed.
- The Policy should set a clear target for achieving a comprehensive system of marine protected areas, managed as no-take zones. We also expect the Oceans Policy action plan to set out reserve targets and implementation timelines.
- Climate change should be recognised as a key threatening process under the Endangered Species Protection Act 1992.
- Research needs to be undertaken as the Antarctic region is potentially the most variable in the overall global climate change equation.
- Consideration must be given to the possible effects of ocean warming on marine realm and policies developed if necessary.
- A major component of research undertaken in the Antarctic is designed to minimise marine pollution and its impact on the interdependent marine and terrestrial ecosystems through improved technologies and management practices.
- The collection of baseline data for the conservation of the Antarctic biota also continues in order to improve the accuracy of computer models for the sustainable management of living resources.
- Data collection and monitoring is being undertaken by the Australian Antarctic Program.
- 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 Policy should include a commitment to support the development and deployment of remote sensing systems for monitoring the ocean environment.
- Existing infrastructure of the Bureau and other agencies should be built upon rather than duplicated.
- The Policy should not be restricted to the exclusive economic zone, although the exclusive economic zone may be the prime focus of the Policy.
Land based pollution
- It is critical that the Policy has strong recommendations, preferably guidelines and supportive legislation, to ensure that State Governments and local councils are forced to reduce and prohibit development that pollutes the oceans.
- The Commonwealth may even consider imposing fines or restoration costs on the offending party should such pollution be generated. This is fundamental to the health and rehabilitation of many of our coastal environs and to redressing the impacts of increased leaching of acid sulphate soils, salinity, industrial waste etc.
- Commonwealth assistance should be increased for projects dealing with stormwater management.
- There should be better management of sewage effluent and recouping some of the capital costs by treatment and reuse, supported by capital funding assistance to States.
- The issue of land based impacts arising from agriculture which have deleterious effects on the marine environment must be addressed.
Ecologically sustainable development
- The living resources of the oceans can only be used on an ecologically sustainable basis.
- It is important for the Policy to offer a framework within which governments can effectively manage public and private rights based on the principles of ecologically sustainable development.
- Creative conservation at home and abroad will require an integrated approach to reducing demand and enhancing supply, through marine protected areas, reseeding, fisheries management and aquaculture.
- Educational initiatives and marine tenure will be vital in all marine areas.
- Fisheries management has proven resistant to simple solutions.
- Adopt a policy of acknowledging the impact of recreational fishing on marine resources through an annual licence of both marine and inland recreational fishers, to ensure cost recovery for management and research of this sector.
- Need to add to and deal with cultural heritage throughout the Policy
Social and economic impacts
- There should be a substantial transformation from fisheries production dominated by large-scale, capital-intensive, destructive methods to smaller scale, community-based, labour intensive fisheries using ecologically responsible, selective fishing technology and environmentally sound practices.
- Very little information is available on the impacts of recreational uses (that is: recreational fishing, intertidal harvesting, trampling).
- No definition of `sensitive areas' to minimise or exclude recreational uses.
- Support the development of the Oceans Policy that seeks to enhance the coordination of management effort and sustainable use of ocean and coastal resources; clarify responsibilities for resource management; and reduce any overlap and duplication that may exist in ocean/coastal management.
- Economic development of a high speed vessel regional cargo service appears to be a viable option.
- Exploitation of oil and gas, at much greater depths than at present, will be critical for Australian self sufficiency.
- Australian marine equipment and environment management know-how could gain a substantial share of the market with the development of an Oceans Policy.
- In the future, exploration of non-renewable deep seabed resources (for example, manganese and cobalt) and marine renewable energies may become economic.
- There is concern about global warming does not discuss the Oceans Policy but gives general discussion on the impact of the Southern Ocean on Australia and the research being carried out.
- Urges that Australia's interests in the Antarctic exclusive economic zone be addressed before it is too late to carry out the required scientific and exploration work in time for decisions related to international agreements on management of exclusive economic zone.
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