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  National Conference 2002    

Plunge the Depths of Marine Education!

Two Million Square Kilometres of Planning
Prepared by: Ester Guerzonni, National Oceans Office

The world's first and largest regional marine plan - more than two million square kilometres of waters in Australia's south east - is being developed by the National Oceans Office. Industry, the community and interest groups are a key source of knowledge and are invited to help shape this world-leading initiative.

Beginning in February, the Oceans Office will hold a number of industry consultations, seminars and public meetings throughout the year to shape the future direction for managing Commonwealth waters in the South-east Marine Region.

Initial meetings will bring representatives up to date with the work completed in assessing the South-east Marine Region. In April, the Office will release a discussion paper which will mark the beginning of an extensive campaign to understand the interests, objectives and desires of the many parties who have an interest in, or derive a living from, our marine environment.

The Office has worked extensively with industries, communities and research organisations to understand the physical environment, biological communities, the types of impacts human activities have on the ocean, the economic benefits we derive from the ocean, and the overall social and historical connections the community has with the deep ocean.

This assessment stage has occupied the Office for much of 2001, and in the first half of this year, the vast amount of knowledge accumulated is being released in a series of reports. Gathering this knowledge has taught us much about how groups view their relationship with the marine environment. 2002 is about moving forward and consulting with more people to understand what they would like to see in the regional marine plan - their objectives, their interests and their concerns.

This understanding starts to shape the final plan. It is important that all stakeholders have their say at this point.

By the middle of the year, the Office will be developing options for the plan with the help of industry and community representatives. This will mean revisiting earlier discussions, and holding more consultations to negotiate options which provide the best outcomes, the least risk, and the most effective management arrangements for all parties. The Office wants to hear from groups first-hand and to work through any concerns with everyone involved.

The South-east Marine Region is the first regional marine plan being implemented under Australia's Oceans Policy. The Policy was launched in 1998 to provide a framework for the people of Australia to explore, use, protect and enjoy our extensive marine resources.

To keep up to date with developments and to find out about meetings, visit the Oceans Office website (www.oceans.gov.au) or phone the National Oceans Office on (03) 6221 5000.
Background Information

Background Information

Regional Marine Planning: An explanation

Regional marine planning is a way of achieving the Oceans Policy vision. It uses large marine ecosystems as one of the starting points for the planning process by creating planning boundaries that are based on ecosystem characteristics - a major step towards ecosystem-based management.

Each region is seen as a whole working system where natural processes and human activities interact. To manage these interactions, we first need to understand the physical environment, biological communities, the types of impacts human activities have on the ocean and the social and cultural values we hold for the ocean. Through regional marine planning we will learn much about how all groups view their relationship with the marine environment. We will also discover how a regional marine plan can put in place a decision-making and management framework that can sensibly meet these wishes as well as maintaining the health and vitality of the ocean.

For the environment, regional marine planning provides a way of managing our activities so that biodiversity is maintained and further environmental damage is avoided.

For industry, regional marine planning creates a business and regulatory environment to develop, use and export Australia's ocean resources, technology and expertise to their full commercial potential, while maintaining the environment on which they depend.

For communities, it means people can participate in decision-making about oceans access, conservation and management, building on the existing social and cultural relationships that all communities have with the ocean environment.

For Indigenous people, it provides a forum to explore how we can address issues of access, economic development and the cultural aspirations of Indigenous people for Sea Country, as well as providing opportunities for consultation and participation by Indigenous people in the planning process.


At the MESA conference in South Australia we were pleased that Ester Guerzoni and Anne Morgan from the National Oceans Office (NOO) were able to participate at both a preconference workshop and to present at the conference itself.
The NOO is seeking input from marine educators as to the content and materials for both their website and for schools. If you have ideas they would be delighted to hear from you and get some directions from educators as to what they want and need.

The presentation at the MESA conference itself was a world first with a sneak preview of of some spectacular views of the South East Marine Region developed as a 3D fly through the region based on bathymetric data collected in the investigative phase of the Regional Planning Process.

The results were breathtaking with massive seamounts rising abruptly from the abyssal plains, huge canyons where water pours out of Bass Strait, and some spectacular images of the Macquarie Rise in the Southern Ocean. NOO hopes to have some of these images online soon.

Check out their website at www.oceans.gov.au Contact : ester.guerzoni@oceans.gov.au, anne.morgan@oceans.gov.au

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