Textbox Section

Australia's Marine Environment: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities

Textbox Section

Conserving Australia’s Marine Environment Key Directions Statement


Scientific findings across the world’s oceans signal serious environmental problems and create a powerful imperative for all marine nations to act to safeguard the productivity and health of marine ecosystems. Australia, with its vast and biologically rich marine territory, has a special responsibility to act decisively for conservation over the long term. Healthy, productive seas and thriving marine life are in the long-term interests of all current and future Australians conveying ecological, social and cultural and economic benefits. Conservation policy, involving management measures to ensure the maintenance of these values and the ecologically sustainable use of marine resources, is therefore a vital national priority.

As a nation we have made considerable progress in recent years but the task is certainly not finished, with many threats to marine health remaining, new threats on the horizon and an incomplete system of protection measures. This prompted ACIUCN to organise the symposium, True Blue: Progress, challenges and opportunities for Australia’s marine environment in partnership with The Nature Conservancy in Melbourne, Victoria on 12-13 June 2013. The Symposium was also supported by IUCN Members, Parks Victoria and the Australian Conservation Foundation.

This Statement was developed in consultation with 100 multi-disciplinary marine experts from universities, research institutions, government agencies and non-government organizations before during and after the Symposium. The Statement provides a succinct overview of the key steps these marine experts believe are required to address current and emerging challenges. It aims to:

• communicate marine conservation as a vital national priority,

• aid and influence constructive and more integrated Australian marine policy,

• improve the implementation of governance, planning, protection and management for conservation of Australia’s diverse marine environment,

• urge science-based decision making, and

• ensure continued progress within the context of international and Australian environmental protection and ecological sustainability policies.


Australia's Marine Environment: Progress, Challenges and Opportunities

In addition to the Key Directions Statement, the richness of the Symposium has led to the production of this additional online publication, which presents summaries of the majority of speaker presentations from the Symposium. All Symposium presenters were offered the opportunity to provide summaries of their presentations or offer their original PowerPoint presentations. We also offered the states and Northern Territory an opportunity to outline their progress in marine conservation, which most accepted.

The result is an important resource to all those interested in an intelligent science based and cooperative approach to marine conservation in Australia. We need to have in the forefront of our thinking that, despite many advances, we are not immune from the challenges to marine health. A 2008 Report to the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council, A National Approach to Addressing Marine Biodiversity Decline found that:

“Australia’s marine biodiversity and ecosystems are in a state of continuing decline. The effects of a number of threatening processes are resulting in declines in habitats, changes in ecosystems and loss of species.”1

As a nation we should not accept an ever downward trajectory. It is poor science, poor economics and poor ethics towards future generations and other living species. Instead, we should work vigorously to reduce threats, rebuild habitat, increase protection and achieve healthy, thriving seas for all the many values of the marine environment.


The Science Informing Policy Symposium Series

Find out more about ACIUCN's flagship event series the Science Informing Policy Symposium Series. Bringing together leading Australian and international environmental experts from across governments, NGOs and academia to advise on best practice environmental policy and decision making.

find out more