Public consultation on the draft marine bioregional plans and the proposed marine reserves for all regions has now closed.
The Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities is currently considering all submissions as part of finalising advice to the Minister, Tony Burke, about options for changes to the draft bioregional plans and marine reserves. A key input to the Government’s decisions on the final marine reserves will be the work by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resources Economics and Sciences (ABARES) to assess the socio-economic impacts of the proposed marine reserves.
The department continues working to meet the Government’s election commitment to finalise the Commonwealth waters marine reserves system by the end of 2012. There will be one further round of public consultation on final marine reserves proposals that will be held once any suggested changes have been considered by the Government.
The overview reports summarising all the submissions received in the South-west, North and North-west are complete and available on the department’s website. The feedback has been wide-ranging, exploring many topics related to the draft marine bioregional plans and the proposed marine reserves for each region.
Temperate East and Coral Sea consultation
The overview reports and submissions for the Temperate East and Coral Sea marine reserves will be made available on the website once their assessments have been finalised.
Where to from here
In the last few months the department has been holding some follow-up meetings with a range of stakeholder group representatives across the planning regions to better understand the local implications of the marine reserves proposals and possible changes.
Once the marine reserves proposals are finalised by the Government, there will be a further round of public consultation run by the Director of National Parks before final decisions are made. This consultation will occur in the second half of 2012 and will focus on whether the marine reserves should be formally declared under national environmental law (the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act).
Adjustment Assistance Program
In May 2011 the Australian Government released the Fisheries Adjustment Policy to support the creation of Commonwealth marine reserves. The policy provides a framework for addressing the impacts on fishers and fishing-dependent communities as a result of the new marine reserves in Commonwealth waters. Any decision on whether adjustment assistance will be provided to fishers will be made on a case-by-case basis and based on an assessment of the impacts in accordance with the Fisheries Adjustment Policy. In the coming months the Department will begin discussions with the commercial fishing industry on the application of the policy.
Management Plans for the new marine reserves will be developed once the final marine reserves have been proclaimed under national environmental law. These plans will set out how the reserves are to be managed. The development of these plans will include two periods of public consultation.
More information on marine bioregional planning can be found at: www.environment.gov.au/coasts/mbp
Sustainable oceans – Australia at the Rio+20 conference
The future of our oceans and coastal areas will be a major theme at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in June 2012.
The biodiversity of oceans is a significant resource. When used wisely, ocean resources can directly help address poverty, ensure food security, and promote sustainable livelihoods.
Many Pacific island countries are calling for the United Nations conference – also known as Rio+20 – to support the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources as a key outcome of the Conference. There is support for more sustainable fisheries and actions to address the impacts of climate change on oceans and coasts. Australia, as a neighbour and development partner, is discussing these matters with countries in our region and other nations Australia is involved in a number of initiatives that improve livelihoods and food security through sustainable management of marine resources and ecosystems. Examples include the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action project.
The Rio+20 Conference is an important step in international efforts to accelerate progress towards achieving sustainable development. It will provide an opportunity to re-energise international efforts to strengthen the three pillars of sustainable development: economic growth, social improvement and environmental protection.
More information on Rio+20 can be found at www.environment.gov.au/rio, where you can also subscribe to a special Rio+20 newsletter.
South-west Marine Region
North-west Marine Region