GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
Existing protection and management
Outlook Report 2009: Overall summary of existing protection and management
Management effectiveness challenges are evident for those management topics which are broad in scale and complex socially, biophysically and jurisdictionally (for example climate change, coastal development, water quality and fishing). Effectiveness is strongest on issues that are limited in scale, intensity or complexity (for example defence and scientific research). While significant improvements have been made in reducing the impacts of fishing in the Great Barrier Reef, such as bycatch reduction devices, effort controls and closures, important risks to the ecosystem remain from the targeting of predators, the death of incidentally caught species of conservation concern, illegal fishing and poaching. The flow on ecosystem effects of losing predators, such as sharks and coral trout, as well as further reducing populations of herbivores, such as the threatened dugong, are largely unknown but have the potential to alter food web interrelationships and reduce resilience across the ecosystem. Non-extractive uses within the Great Barrier Reef, such as commercial marine tourism, shipping and defence activities, are independently assessed as more effectively managed and are a lower risk to the ecosystem; however the risk of introduced species is likely to increase with projected increases in shipping when global economic recovery occurs. While many of the management measures employed in the Great Barrier Reef Region and beyond are making a positive difference, for example the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Zoning Plan 2003, the ability to address cumulative impacts is weak.
Protection and management of the Great Barrier Reef Region (the Region) is a partnership between many government agencies, stakeholders and community members, with activities both on the water and in the catchment. An understanding of the effectiveness of these activities is an important component in determining the likely resilience of the Region’s ecosystem and heritage values, assessing the major risks that remain for the Great Barrier Reef and predicting its outlook. The effectiveness of existing measures to protect and manage the Region’s ecosystem was independently assessed in the Great Barrier Reef Outlook Report 2009.1 A similar assessment by four independent reviewers has been undertaken for this report, with additional emphasis on the effectiveness of measures to protect and manage heritage values. The assessment considers the activities of all government agencies and other contributors that play a role in protection and management of the Region.
7.1.1 Roles and responsibilities
Protection and management responsibilities within the Region: Both the Australian and Queensland governments have direct legislative responsibilities within the Region (Figure 7.1). Under Australia’s constitution, regulation of natural resource management and environment protection are primarily the responsibility of state governments — in this case, Queensland. However, the Great Barrier Reef and Australia’s world and national heritage properties are protected through national regulation. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 (the Act) establishes the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and governs its operations. The main object of the Act is to provide for the long-term protection and conservation of the environment, biodiversity and heritage values of the Great Barrier Reef Region. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority manages the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (see Figure 1.1) in accordance with the Act. This Commonwealth marine protected area is complemented by the Queensland Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park in adjacent Queensland waters.
Both the Australian and Queensland governments have legislative responsibilities within the Region.