Tasmania hosts some of the highest marine diversity and endemism on Earth, world’s best practice expertise in marine science and governance, and punches above its weight in economic contributions, thanks to our ocean.
The Living Marine Resource Management Act 1995 is not achieving its objectives by any measure. Depleted fish stocks, ignored ecosystem flow-on effects, threatened species, paltry habitat protection, poor community returns, and a lack of community input into planning and management decisions, all demonstrate that the Act is not achieving its goals. This, alongside increasing pressure from climate change, aquaculture operations, agricultural run-off, urban development, and population growth, all call for a fundamentally improved management framework.
Key submission findings:
- Eight out of 19 (42%) of Tasmania’s assessed commercial fish stocks are classified as having depleted or currently depleting stocks.
- Overfishing of rock lobsters allowed historic lows of less than 10% of natural levels in 2011-12. Stocks are now rebuilding and assessed as sustainable, despite some areas with less than 20% of their natural population levels at the latest stock assessment.
- The Act does not address climate change or include the precautionary principle, which prevents scientific uncertainty being used to delay environmental protection measures.
- Centrostephanus urchin barrens, which decimate rocky reefs, now cover over 15% of east coast reefs, impacting commercially and recreationally important habitats.
- It has been 12 years since the last integrated assessment of ecosystem health by resource managers. This is despite a statutory requirement to produce State of the Environment Report every 5 years.
Australia Institute research shows a vast majority of Tasmanians are concerned that the health of Tasmania’s coastal waters is declining. More than one in two agree the Tasmanian Government is not doing enough to protect the health of our ocean. Tasmanians want action in this space.
Key recommendations in the Australia Institute Tasmania submission include:
- Establishing an overarching legal framework for coordinated management that takes into account the needs of the environment to remain healthy. This includes consideration of current and future uses of Tasmania’s coastal waters for all uses, users and values.
- Use multi-sector marine spatial planning to implement this approach.
- Appropriate recognition of the rights of First Nations Tasmanians should be developed through direct engagement.
- An economic return should be paid to the community for the private use of public resources.
- Set precautionary fish stock targets to retain 48% of natural populations for Tasmanian fisheries.