Oceans Management: Lessons from the Great Barrier Reef

Ian McPhail, Chair, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park remains the largest marine managed area in the world. Apart from its World Heritage status , it is also one of few areas managed at a large marine ecosystem scale. Since its creation in 1975, other marine protected areas have joined it in Australia, New Zealand and other countries. Australia is presently embarking on the creation of an Oceans Policy to provide the policy framework within which to manage it EEZ and contiguous continental shelf. The lessons from the Great Barrier Reef are valuable in testing options for management on the broader scale. Concepts of multiple use, representative areas, stakeholder and indigenous involvement, and the maintenance of biodiversity - as well as the unequivocal acceptance of economic use under conditions of assured sustainability - underpin the management philosophy of the marine park. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has a deserved reputation for effective co-management but management decision can still be controversial. Resource management involves resolution of competing demands for access, and decision taking can place relationships under pressure. For the larger ocean there are a number of lessons. The paper will explore the transferability to Oceans Policy of the management experience of the Great Barrier Reef.

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