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.