Existing protection and management
7.5.7 Overall summary of existing protection and management
The effectiveness of existing measures to protect and manage the Region’s ecosystem and its heritage values was independently assessed for 14 broad management topics.2 The activities of all relevant Australian and Queensland government agencies and other contributing partners were considered. The outcomes are summarised in Figure 7.5. Managing agencies are striving to manage effectively in all areas. Since the independent assessment for the Outlook Report 2009, there have been considerable improvements in parts of the management cycle for a number of management topics, in part as a result of the outcomes of that assessment and the overall findings of the report. For example, outcomes for the traditional use of marine resources have improved following better planning, inputs and processes, and program outputs for land-based run-off have improved following improvements in planning (for example revisions to Reef Plan), inputs and processes. Undertaking the comprehensive strategic assessment of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area has further consolidated understanding about the Region, its values and threats, and focused management attention. The difficulties in achieving positive outcomes on the ground, given the complexity of many issues, the spatial and temporal scales of the threats to the Region’s values and the diminishing resource base to implement actions, are recognised. Progress in reducing the threats is slow and is reflected in the continuing poor outcomes for some management topics. Desired outcomes are difficult to achieve for some of the most significant (and complex) management issues threatening the Region. Not surprisingly, performance across the six elements tends to be better for the less complex management topics (Figure 7.5). Two issues do not follow this general pattern. Land-based run-off is one of the more complex topics and yet is generally effectively managed (although outcomes remain only partially effective). This result demonstrates the impact that significant commitment of resources, extensive planning responses, and extensive research to inform management can have on the management of an issue. The lagging response in desired outcomes for the Region is largely a result of the scale of the problem and the time needed to effect change in the system. In contrast, community benefits of the environment is a less complex topic that shows only partially effective management in inputs and processes. This is likely a reflection of its relatively recent recognition as an area of management. While commercial marine tourism has previously received significant management attention and is effectively managed overall, there is a trend that efforts within management agencies are being redirected to tackle higher risks, resulting in less effective tourism management (for example, the overdue need to review the plans of management). In the case of climate change and coastal development, there are particular management challenges in consistency across jurisdictions which affect the effectiveness of planning. For fishing, there are particular challenges in the areas of monitoring and compliance, especially as they relate to addressing potential cumulative impacts. For heritage values other than natural heritage values, the management challenges are particularly in areas of understanding the values and better incorporating their consideration in decision making, although substantial progress has been made.
Volunteers collected 335 kilograms of rubbish from Neck Bay in the Whitsundays during this Eco Barge Clean Seas marine debris clean up