Next steps

A message from the Director of National Parks

Sally Barnes, Director of National Parks

Sally Barnes: Director of National Parks

Thank you to the thousands of people who took the time and made the effort to write to me and let me know the sorts of things I should consider when making draft management plans for the South-west, North-west, North and Temperate East Commonwealth Marine Reserves Networks and the Coral Sea Commonwealth Marine Reserve.

Thank you as well to everyone who provided comments and suggestions on the recommendations and proposals contained in the independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review reports.

Hearing your thoughts and being exposed to new information or emerging science at this stage in the management planning process is incredibly valuable for me and the staff in Parks Australia.

The first statutory consultation process is now over and we move into the more detailed planning phase. The work we will do together to finalise day to day management arrangements for these areas is very important.

Together with Parks Australia staff I will be developing draft management plans for the marine reserves in the North, North-west, South-west and Temperate-east networks and the Coral Sea reserve.

These reserves are located in Commonwealth waters, typically beyond the 3 nautical mile coastal waters of the States and the Northern Territory. They are adjacent to waters managed by State and Territory governments and a number are adjacent to marine parks and reserves managed by State agencies.

I will use public feedback on recommendations contained in the recently released independent Commonwealth Marine Reserves Review reports from the Expert Scientific Panel and Bioregional Advisory Panel and comments sent during this first phase of the statutory process to prepare the draft management plans. The reports are the product of extensive consultation and provide an important reference point as we move towards finalisation of Australia’s national network of Commonwealth marine reserves.

Management plans provide for the protection and conservation of the marine reserves by setting out the arrangements for management of activities within reserves for a period of 10 years. They state how natural features, heritage and other values are to be protected and conserved and set out the rules about what activities can be done in reserves and where.

The plans also provide certainty to communities by recognising where actions may be needed to support local and regional economies and industries and provide opportunities for people to experience and enjoy these areas within a well managed and balanced system.

Management plans also recognise the long term connection of Indigenous people to these seascapes and their cultural obligations to look after these special areas.

When finalised, the draft management plans will be released for public comment too, so we can double check them with you before we present them to the Minister for his consideration and approval.

During the planning and consultation processes, activities can continue to be conducted in the same way they have since the reserve networks were declared, until the new management plans come into effect. The management plan for the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserves Network is already in place and it won’t be part of this process.

I am looking forward to finalising the plans and working with you on the important job of managing Australia’s marine parks – an amazing and inspirational initiative that will make us proud for generations to come.

Sally Barnes

Director of National Parks