GREAT BARRIER REEF
// Outlook Report 2014
A key factor in achieving the evident high standard of management is that professional expertise, with access to appropriate levels of funding (and other management resources), has been made available to support defence activities in the Region and the adjacent defence training areas. Training exercises include good performance monitoring, debriefs and post-exercise monitoring. The identification of clear environmental performance indicators in relation to training exercises, particularly those related to addressing cumulative impacts, remains a challenge. The adoption of new training activities and platforms, and changing patterns and intensities of training activities, are likely to present new environmental management challenges, especially in managing their cumulative impacts. There is emerging understanding of the unexploded ordnance, explosive ordnance waste, and the wide range of dumped war materials present in the Great Barrier Reef, particularly from World War II and immediately after. The Department of Defence implements Australian Government policy on unexploded ordnance and gathers and disseminates information to assist with the safe management of land and sea areas that may be subject to contamination. Not all sites in the Region are known or documented and there is no overall plan for monitoring or remediating unexploded ordnance in the Region. While the explosive risks are likely to be low and the incident response mechanism is generally excellent, the management framework and policies to address these legacy issues is dated and well below contemporary best practice for dealing with contamination by hazardous materials. Adequate biophysical information within defence training areas continues to be available for decision making, including through hydrographic and ecological surveys. The Department of Defence undertakes community engagement for major exercises and has environmental advisory committees for its training areas. A systematic approach generally ensures that statutory and planning timeframes are routinely met and results are reported by the Department of Defence in a timely manner. While Authority staff have an appropriate mix of skills to fulfil their statutory responsibilities for defence activities, the liaison and monitoring work is undertaken as a relatively low priority by a small number of Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority staff. Defence training activities continue to be effectively undertaken in the Region. Any impacts are localised and short term, with any incidents well managed.
Defence activities continue to be managed very effectively with close cooperation between agencies.