Government begins marine parks review process

THE Abbott Government says it is delivering on its election commitment for an independent review of Commonwealth Marine Reserves with the chairs and terms of reference for the Expert Scientific Panel and Bioregional Advisory Panels announced today.

“It is important that an independent review based on science is undertaken which reconsiders zoning boundaries to restore community confidence,” said Environment Minister Greg Hunt.

“The Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review will examine the management arrangements for the new marine reserves rushed through by the previous government in November 2012.”

“Unlike the previous government, we are committed to getting the management plans and the balance of zoning right, so we have asked the expert panels to consider what management arrangements will best protect our marine environment and accommodate the many activities that Australians love to enjoy in our oceans.”

The expert panels will help restore confidence in Commonwealth marine reserves. They will provide advice to the Government, based on the best available science and after genuine consultation with stakeholders.

“The Government is determined to ensure a science-based review of Commonwealth marine reserves and zoning boundaries, while maintaining our strong commitment to the marine reserves and their estates,” said Minister Hunt.

Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture Senator Richard Colbeck said “The management plans of marine reserves must be based on sound science and developed in consultation with local communities, including commercial, indigenous and recreational fishers.”

“In our election policy we said we would ‘appoint an expert scientific panel to review the science supporting the boundary area for each zone’ and that we ‘ will reconsider proposed boundaries in consultation with stakeholders’ – that is what we have done and what we will do to restore confidence in the process.”

“Our aim is to have a sensible balance, which protects the environment, supports a sustainable fishing industry, attracts tourism and provides cultural, recreational and economic benefits for coastal communities.”

The review will be conducted by six panels:

An Expert Scientific Panel, chaired by Associate Professor Bob Beeton, will look closely at the science supporting the new marine reserves.

Professor Beeton is Associate Professor at the School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management at the University of Queensland. He has recently chaired the 2011-12 NSW Government Audit of Marine Parks and is a past chair of the Australian Threatened Species Scientific Committee as well as the Australian State of the Environment Committee.

Other members of the panel include Mr Peter Cochrane, Adjunct Professor Colin Buxton, Dr Julian Pepperell and Dr Sabine Dittmann.

Five Bioregional Advisory Panels (one for each marine region, except the South-east marine region) will ensure that communities, marine-based businesses and other interested groups are consulted about the management of marine reserves in those areas.

The Bioregional Advisory Panels will be co-chaired by Professor Colin Buxton, Adjunct Professor of the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, and Mr Peter Cochrane, Australian Government Ambassador for the IUCN World Parks Congress, Adjunct Fellow at the Fenner School for Environment and Society Australian National University, and the former Director of National Parks.

Other panel members include:
North Bioregional Advisory Panel
Mr Joe Morrison
Mrs Katherine Winchester
Mr Matthew Barwick

North-west Bioregional Advisory Panel
Dr Andrew Rowland
Mr Brett McCallum
Associate Professor Stephan Schnierer

South-west Bioregional Advisory Panel
Dr Andrew Rowland
Mr Clayton Nelson
Ms Sue Middleton

Temperate East Bioregional Advisory Panel
Mr Simon Boag
Mr Stelios (Stan) Konstantaras
Professor William Gladstone

Coral Sea Bioregional Advisory Panel
Mrs Judy Lynne
Ms Larissa Hale
Mr Neville Rockliff

Panel members have been selected for their capacity to facilitate input from a broad range of stakeholders.

The review panels will report to the Government in mid-2015.

The announcement of the marine parks review process has been welcomed by the Australian Recreational Fishing Foundation. Read details HERE. 

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