Existing protection and management
7.3.6 Research activities
This evaluation of the effectiveness of management in relation to research activities concentrates on the direct management of research activities in the Region. The wider questions of the availability and application of knowledge gained from scientific research are separately considered under the other management topics.
There is strong collaboration in research management; improvements are slow.
There are robust governance arrangements in place to manage research on the Reef and research activities are generally considered to be environmentally sustainable. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority and relevant Queensland agencies jointly manage research activities within the Region, including extractive and observational research. Permits for specific research projects and accreditation of partner research institutions are the principal means of managing potential impacts. There is stakeholder and local community engagement concerning proposed activities, as necessary, and research proposals with the potential to affect Indigenous values are referred to the relevant Indigenous liaison staff. There is limited compliance auditing of research permits. Direct risks are recognised but potential cumulative impacts are unclear and warrant more focused attention. Specific management arrangements are in place to assist with the effective management of research in scientific research zones — where research is concentrated and cumulative impacts are most likely. The assessment in the Outlook Report 2009 concluded that management of research in the Reef was moving towards desired outcomes. The foreshadowed database to manage permitted use information remains under development and it is not yet possible to use it for analyses. In addition, there is limited capacity to contribute to the formulation and review of regulations, plans and policies. For example, the policy on managing scientific research has not been reviewed since its introduction in 2004 and the sampling limits for limited impact research in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations have not been reviewed since their introduction in the same year. As a result, management effectiveness grades for planning, inputs and processes have declined from effective to mostly effective. There is increasing emphasis on managing research partnerships and collaborations that are delivering benefits to Great Barrier Reef management. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority’s Scientific information needs for the management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park 2009–201410 identifies key information needed to better inform management of the area. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has very successful and effective relationships with the research community regarding management of research activities, demonstrated by the accreditation process and strong partnerships with research institutions.