POLICY GUIDANCE FOR OCEANS
PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT
PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT
The following policy statements are intended to help apply the principles for ecologically sustainable ocean
use when developing and implementing planning and management arrangements
for Australias oceans. They are also intended, in association with more
specific national and regional objectives, to provide the basis for
reporting and performance assessment in the implementation of Australias Oceans Policy.
Maintenance of ecosystem integrity
The ecological links between the land and oceans, as well as within
and between ocean ecosystems, must be taken into account in ocean planning
Maintenance of natural ecosystem structure and function should be
used to develop agreed objectives and indicators for ecosystems and
resource uses, on the basis of the best available information available on
natural levels of temporal and spatial variability and the
sensitivity or resilience of the ecosystems likely to be affected by
the extent and levels of change in ecosystem components or impacts on
ecosystem integrity likely to arise from proposed uses and other impacts,
singly and in unison;
levels of induced change considered acceptable;
levels of change in ecosystem characteristics considered incompatible
with maintenance of ecosystem health or recovery within a reasonable
gaps or uncertainty in information on resources, uses or ecosystem
processes and the capacity to monitor, detect and assess change in
indicators of ecosystem health.
Integrated oceans planning and management for multiple ocean use
The economic, environmental, social and cultural values of ocean
resources should be assessed, as should the impacts of proposed uses on
those values, before resource allocation decisions are made.
Ocean resources should be allocated to the mix of uses within a
planning area that offers the greatest long-term community benefits
(taking economic, environmental, social and cultural values into account)
compatible with maintaining ecosystem health.
Direct, indirect and cumulative adverse impacts of resource use
should be minimised:
uses that may diminish the value of an area or resource for
subsequent uses require careful assessment of long-term costs and benefits
and of alternative uses.
Multiple uses of the same ocean resource should be considered jointly
so that their overall impacts on the oceans, and the impacts they have on
each other, can be understood.
Resource use activities should be assessed within a planning
framework which considers impacts on ecosystems, against management
goals, and t h rough an objective, transparent and open analysis of risk,
costs and benefits.
W h e re good management suggests that uses of particular areas
should be restricted, primarily for a single purpose or for a specific set
of purposes, access for resource users with different interests may be
managed through zoning on the basis of area and/or time.
Multiple use planning and management of the oceans should
incorporate, as a central component, a comprehensive , adequate and
representative national system of marine protected areas .
Promotion of ecologically sustainable marine-based industries
Healthy marine ecosystems are essential for the long term
productivity of marine industries.
Planning and management for ocean use should explicitly include the
development of sustainable, internationally competitive marine industries
that contribute to national economic growth, employment and regional
Allocation of ocean resources under existing sectoral management
regimes should provide for integrated ocean use and should:
support industry efforts to generate wealth through growth,
innovation and value enhancement;
encourage industry in promoting its international competitiveness and international trade and investment opportunities; and
encourage continuous improve m e n t s in environmental management
and cleaner production strategies.
Governments and industry should cooperate to ensure cost-effective
access to high-quality information about resources, environmental baseline
and monitoring information required for managing existing industries, and
for identification of new opportunities.
Unnecessary regulatory impediments to the development of ecologically
sustainable marine industries should be removed. This can be achieved by:
simplifying and streamlining regulatory framework s ,
including removing unnecessary regulations;
improving valuation and pricing of resource access and government
managing uncertainties in resource access, use and allocation
processes, for example, by creating tradeable rights, where compatible
with maintaining the productivity and health of marine ecosystems and
other community equity considerations.
The distribution of roles and responsibilities between the
Commonwealth, States, Territories and local government should be
consistent with the Intergovernmental Agreement on the Environment and the
outcome of the Council of Australian Governments review of roles and
responsibilities for the environment.
Partnerships between governments, industry and the community should
be a major component of institutional arrangements for assessing, planning
and managing ocean resources:
recognising coastal and marine policies and strategies in place or
being developed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments; and
recognising the responsibilities carried by governments to develop
and implement policies for community benefit and in the national intere s
Planning and management arrangements should incorporate a duty of
care towards the health of our oceans on the part of individuals and
corporate and government bodies.
To the extent possible, the regulatory framework for ocean use
be outcome or objective based, and provide incentives for improved
not impose unnecessary costs or re g ul a t o ry burdens on users and
be consistent across jurisdictional boundaries where they impact on
the same oceans resource;
be developed cooperatively with community and industry;
use market based approaches where they are able to address adequately
the full range of economic, environmental and community values; and
be consistent with internationally agreed measures.
Institutional arrangements and decision making processes for the
oceans should enable conciliation and dispute re s o l ution. Howe ve r,
such arrangements will not fetter governments from carry i n g out their
responsibilities to the Australian people.
The Commonwealth Government will continue to involve State and
Territory Governments in considering existing and new international
treaties relating to the marine environment, particularly where they may
affect State or Territory interests.
Managing for uncertainty
Planning and management for use of ocean resources, particularly the
living marine resources, must be able to accommodate considerable
Regimes should be adaptive and:
be able to accommodate uncertainty in the accuracy of assessments of
resources and of risks and the variability and unpredictability of the
allow for changes in resource values and improvements in technology
and information that may alter risk assessments and provide new
opportunities for resource use; and
be capable of rapid responses to assessment of adverse impacts; this
includes reducing or ceasing re s o u rce use to a s s u re an acceptable
rate of re c ove ry or remediation of ecosystem health.
Application of the precautionary principle
If the potential impact of an action is uncertain, priority should be
given to maintaining ecosystem health and productivity.
Incomplete information on possible impacts should not be used as a
reason for postponing precautionary measures intended to reduce or avoid
unacceptable levels of change or to prevent serious or irreversible
environmental degradation of the oceans.
In the application of the precautionary approach, public and private
decisions should be guided by:
careful evaluation to ensure that changes arising from a use or uses
remain within limits considered acceptable, to avoid, wherever
practicable, serious or irreversible damage to the environment; and
assessment of the risk-weighted consequences of various options.
If there is a risk of serious and irreversible environmental damage
resulting from an ocean use, that use should be permitted only if the
damage can be mitigated, or it is limited in its extent, and there is an
overriding net community benefit from the use:
the higher the risk of unacceptable levels of change or of serious or
irreversible environmental damage, the more conservative should be the
measures required to reduce that risk.
Ocean users carry a responsibility to a s s u re the ecological
sustainability of their operations and an obligation toidentify and
implement pre c a u t i o n a ry m e a s u re s .
User-pays and other economic instruments
Charges for access to ocean resources should reflect the community
interest and short- and long-term economic, environmental, social, and
cultural costs and benefits.
Where it is not possible to quantify these costs and benefits, their
existence and relative importance should be taken into account in setting
Risk of losing ecosystem health and productivity should be presumed
to have a high cost to the community.
Access to common ocean resources for private profit should be priced
to give a reasonable rate of return to the community, where consistent
with government resources policies.
Public-funding principles should apply for services provided for the
Unless there is an overriding public interest, the costs of
commercial development potentially impacting on the oceans including
infrastructure, environmental management, monitoring and remediation, and
the costs of managing natural hazards should be borne by development
Those who generate and release wastes into the ocean should bear the
costs of containment, avoidance, abatement, or remediation to the level of
Approvals for resource use proposals should be contingent on the
proponents having in place credible arrangements for bearing these costs.
Pollution which results in loss of amenity or diminished value of the
oceans resource to other users is a form of resource use and, while it
continues, should be costed accordingly.
Reporting, monitoring and assessment
Ocean planning and management should include the development of
outcome-based performance indicators and performance assessment pro c e d
u re s .
Use of ocean resources should be monitored to ensure that estimates
of impacts are accurate. If assessments of impacts differ significantly
from forecasts, management procedures should allow for the initiation of
remedial action, including reviews of resource allocation.
Monitoring and assessment pro g r a m m e s should be structured so
that they provide sufficient statistical power for detection of potential
impacts, including design for replication and appropriate control or
Such programmes should be subject to public and independent peer review.
Ocean conditions should be monitore d to underpin improved
understanding and decision making and to detect va r iability and
long-term change. Ef f e c t i ve linkages with national and international
ocean monitoring pro g r a m m e s should be maintained.
Ocean managers should have access to data which are essential for
good oceans m a n a g e m e n t .
Access to and use of ocean resources carry with them a responsibility
for users to provide information in the form and at the level of detail
required for good management.
Ocean managers have complementary responsibilities:
to communicate clearly what information is required and the form in
which it is to be provided;
to recognise and minimise the transaction costs of requiring
information from resource users; and
to provide feedback on the use made of the information and its
Monitoring of the performance of management agencies should be open
and transparent, with the results made publicly available.
Duty of care and stewardship
Australian governments, marine industries, communities and
individuals should acknowledge and apply a duty of care in use of
Australias ocean resources. A collective sense of stewardship is a
critical element in sharing the responsibility for these assets across all
Interests and responsibilities of indigenous peoples
The cultural interests and traditional k n owledge and
management practices of Aboriginal and To r res Strait Is l a n d e r
peoples should be recognised and incorporated in ocean planning and
management and related policy deve l o p m e n t .
Local communities should be encouraged to participate in local
industries and in management strategies and to continue to share
responsibility for the management of ocean resources.
Broader community participation
Effective public participation in ocean planning and management
the public should have access to sufficient information about current
ocean resource uses, proposals and alternative uses and their impacts;
the public should have sufficient opportunities for informed
community contributions to decisions and management; and
t h e re is a clear understanding of the responsibilities of
governments for planning and management in meeting community and
national i n t e re s t s .
Ocean management decisions and how they are made should be open for
Local communities and local industries should be encouraged to
participate in planning and management strategies and share responsibility
for the management of ocean resources.
Regional and global responsibilities
Australias obligations in relation to the oceans under
conventions, agreements and arrangements to which it is party must be
acquitted in the assessment, allocation and management of ocean resources:
including commitments relating to peaceful use of the oceans and
cooperation in access for national and international scientific research
and monitoring programmes.
Government and industry should cooperate internationally to
incorporate the full environmental costs associated with ocean related
multilateral development and implementation of market-based
measures to protect the health of our oceans is an important
strategy for maintaining the international competitiveness of our marine
industries while p romoting global enviro n m e n t a l p ro t e c t i o n
International trans-boundary resources should be allocated and
conserved in a fair and equitable way, placing a premium on the peaceful
settlement of any differences regarding their use.
Australia should provide leadership regionally and internationally in
the management of our oceans, re c o g n i s i n g the possibility that
national activities may have effects on the marine jurisdictions of