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

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

The Commonwealth Coastal Policy

Commonwealth of Australia, May 1995


  1. Introduction
    • 1.1 The Purpose of this Policy
    • 1.2 A Response to Recent Initiatives
    • 1.3 What is the Coastal Zone?
    • 1.4 Why Does Anything Need to be Done?
  2. Commonwealth Policy on Coastal Zone Management
    • 2.1 Commonwealth Responsibilities for Coastal Management
    • 2.2 Shared Responsibilities
    • 2.3 Coastal Management Objectives
    • 2.4 Guiding Principles for the Management of Coastal Resources
  1. Coastal Management Initiatives
    • 3.1 Community Participation in Coastal Management
      • 3.1.1 Community involvement
      • 3.1.2 The participation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
    • 3.2 Sustainable Coastal Resource Use
      • 3.2.1 Pollution of coastal waters
      • 3.2.2 Land and marine conservation
      • 3.2.3 Marine management
      • 3.2.4 Integrated and strategic management
      • 3.2.5 Tourism
      • 3.2.6 Defence
    • 3.3 Capacity Building
      • 3.3.1 Research and data management
      • 3.3.2 Coastal monitoring system
      • 3.3.3 Professional development and training
    • 3.4 The International Dimension
      • 3.4.1 Global co-operation
      • 3.4.2 Regional co-operation
  1. Administration
    • 4.1 Co-ordination of Commonwealth Activities in the Coastal Zone
    • 4.2 Working with Other Spheres of Government
    • 4.3 Review and Evaluation

Annexe A

Annexe B

Annexe C

Annexe D


Australia's coast, vast and magnificent, is very much a part of the Australian way of life. Most of us live, work and play in that strip of land known as the coast.

It has become a cliche to say that Australians risk loving the coast to death. But it is true. All of us have a responsibility to recognise the impact that our actions have on the coast and to do what we can to reduce them.

Improving coastal management is not simply a matter of increasing the number of marine parks or placing restrictions on further coastal development. It relies on finding the balance between competing uses. Complications arise because no single sphere of government is solely responsible for the management of the coast.

Improving the management of Australia's coastal areas has always been a hard issue for governments to tackle, as attested by the numerous inquiries conducted by both State and Commonwealth Governments over the past two decades.

The Commonwealth Coastal Policy, and the initiatives it contains, will ensure that the Commonwealth Government plays its part in protecting our superb coastline. Arrangements will be put in place to minimise the environmental impact of Commonwealth activities in the coastal zone. Clear objectives and principles have been established to guide future decisions and assist us to avoid the mistakes of the past. The Commonwealth will also fund a range of activities to support the community, other spheres of government and industry in their efforts to improve management of the coastal zone.

In effect, preparation of this Policy began in 1991, when the Commonwealth Government requested the Resource Assessment Commission to conduct a major inquiry into the management of the coast. The Commission found that real improvements in the way that we use the coast could only be achieved if there was co-operation between the community, industry and the three spheres of government.

This Policy provides the basis for that co-operation. Its implementation will see Australia develop a coastal management system that will be a "world best" and ensure that we achieve ecologically sustainable use of the coastal zone.

The Commonwealth Coastal Policy

The aim of the Commonwealth Coastal Policy is to promote ecologically sustainable use of Australia's coastal zone.

Specific objectives for sustainable resource use, resource conservation, public participation, and knowledge and understanding provide the focus for Commonwealth activities in the coastal zone.

These objectives represent the overall outcome the Commonwealth is seeking to achieve.

Principles are established to guide decision making that affects the coastal zone.

These principles will help integrate Commonwealth coastal management activities and ensure more open, consistent and systematic decision making.

The Policy sets out a program of action.

The program aims to achieve specific practical improvements to coastal management. The actions focus on four broad fronts:

  1. increasing community, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples', involvement in coastal management;
  2. addressing the most pressing coastal problems, such as coastal development and pollution;
  3. enhancing awareness, promoting education, and improving the knowledge, experience and information available to coastal managers, planners and users; and
  4. promoting Australian coastal management expertise in neighbouring regions.