As part of the World Science Festival in Brisbane last week, I attended the 2016 Thomas Conservation Oration delivered by The Honorable Robert Hill titled “Ocean Futures: A New Generation of Laws and Policies for the Sea”. The Hon. Robert Hill was an intrinsic part of introducing Australia’s Oceans Policy (AOP) in 1998 during his term as Environment Minister. This policy was perceived as ground breaking in advancing coordinated and integrated management of Australia’s marine areas. However, AOP was never fully implemented and was superceded by marine bioregional planning. The main thrust of Hill’s oration was the need to secure the future of the oceans’ biodiversity and resources through new laws and policies. Of particular mention was the management of high seas areas; vast parts of the oceans and seas that need strong legislation and regulation, not just voluntary agreements. Hill suggested that careful and successful implementation of policies is required as merely signing International conventions and agreements does not guarantee outcomes. My research uses this premise and aims to assess the implementation of policy/legislation that underpins the management of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Australia. I have interviewed MPA practitioners and policy makers about what policy/legislation is used in management, how it is applied, and at what stage of the cycle policy it is utilised. Preliminary results suggest a complex system of governance arrangements, policies, and legislation, with practitioners having to overcome numerous challenges to effectively implement the myriad of marine policies. This research will be developed into a paper for publication at a later date.

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