Existing protection and management
There are no guidelines or policies for decision makers in relation to managing for community benefits. An overarching strategy would clarify objectives, roles and responsibilities in relation to community benefits. It would also provide an improved framework to assess management effectiveness with greater accuracy.
7.4 Assessment of management approaches
The purpose of this section is to assess the three broad management approaches as described in Section 7.1.3 — environmental regulation, engagement, and knowledge, integration and innovation — across all management topics. The findings are based on the assessments carried out for each of the management topics.
7.4.1 Environmental regulation
Statutory instruments employed in protection and management of the Region’s ecosystem and heritage values are generally contemporary and appropriate. Commonwealth legislation has been reviewed to keep pace with emerging issues, and two key legislative instruments, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, have been aligned. Relevant Queensland legislation is not necessarily consistent with that of the Commonwealth, often due to differences in objectives. Joint marine parks permits have been provided for some time, and governments are committed to a ‘one-stop shop’ approach with respect to approvals.
Environmental regulation is generally contemporary and appropriate; some needs updating and aligning.
Revised coastal development arrangements through implementation of the new State Planning Policy are yet to be determined, as are arrangements for the devolution of environmental impact assessment processes. Zoning plans have been very effective for managing activities such as fishing, resulting in improved biodiversity protection outcomes. However, other than setting out the requirement for a permit, they do not address activities such as tourism which are principally managed through plans of management and permits. While plans of management are a useful tool, they require updating, and there is a need for them to be developed in areas experiencing increasing impacts from use. Compliance systems are very sophisticated, and are very effective for activities of highest risk to the Region’s values, such as illegal fishing and poaching. Due to funding issues, the joint Field Management Program must prioritise compliance activities, based on a detailed risk analysis, and is not able to comprehensively enforce legislation. A number of policies and strategies have been considerably improved or developed since the 2009 assessment, for example in relation to climate change, recreation, biodiversity and land-based runoff. Some of these would benefit from targets focused on outcomes, with clear objectives, actions and milestones. An example of a highly effective strategy is the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan20 — a joint Australian and Queensland government program. Some policies require significant review, and plans for regular review and evaluation are generally lacking. There is a lack of policy guidance in areas such as Indigenous heritage values and community benefits.