Marine bioregional plans have been developed for four of Australia's marine regions - South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve the way decisions are made under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act), particularly in relation to the protection of marine biodiversity and the sustainable use of our oceans and their resources by our marine-based industries.
Purpose of marine bioregional plans
Marine Bioregional Plans aim to strengthen the operation of the EPBC Act to help ensure that the marine environment remains healthy and resilient. The plans will be used by government and industry to improve the way the marine environment is managed and protected.
Very little is known about Australia's oceans compared to our terrestrial environment. Marine Bioregional Plans improve our understanding of Australia's oceans by presenting a consolidated picture of the biophysical characteristics and diversity of marine life. They describe the marine environment and conservation values of each marine region, set out broad biodiversity objectives, identify regional priorities and outline strategies and actions to address these priorities. By bringing together scientific knowledge and information from many sources Marine Bioregional Plans will:
- Support strategic, consistent and informed decision-making under Commonwealth environment legislation in relation to Commonwealth marine areas.
- Support efficient administration of the EPBC Act to promote the ecologically sustainable use of the marine environment and its resources.
- Provide a framework for strategic intervention and investment by government to meet policy objectives and statutory responsibilities.
Who will use marine bioregional plans?
People who have responsibility for, or interest in, management of marine based activities, environment protection and marine science
Marine Bioregional Plans are an important document for individuals and organisations with an interest in the region and the way national environmental law is administered within Commonwealth waters. The plans provide information that enables people to better understand the Australian Government's marine environment protection and biodiversity conservation responsibilities, objectives and priorities in the four marine regions.
People planning to undertake activities in Commonwealth waters, or planning to undertake activities that are likely to have a significant impact on the Commonwealth marine environment
Marine Bioregional Plans are not a legislative instrument and therefore do not alter the EPBC Act referrals process. People planning to undertake activities within any of the four regions can use the plan and supporting information to help decide whether their proposal should be referred in accordance with the EPBC Act.
The minister and department administering the EPBC Act
The minister must have regard to the Marine Bioregional Plans in making any decision under the EPBC Act to which the plans are relevant.
Other government agencies
The requirement to have regard to the Marine Bioregional Plans making decisions applies only to the Commonwealth minister administering the EPBC Act. However, the plan provides comprehensive information about the region that assists government decision-making relevant to the Commonwealth marine environment.