The system of Australian Marine Parks (AMPs) that spans Australia’s Commonwealth waters is among the largest in the world. AMPs play a major role in conserving marine life and supporting our livelihoods and recreational pursuits. They also help to protect cultural values significant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Parks Australia has developed an adaptive management approach to AMPs. This requires testing the effectiveness of management arrangements (such as zoning) and understanding emerging and increasing pressures and activities that may have an impact on park values. Updated scientific information and data on the status and trends of natural values and pressures are needed to implement evidence-based adaptive management.

This project will provide the required scientific knowledge, where possible, to address these challenges systematically to ensure the successful implementation of the adaptive management approach. The hub project team will work with Parks Australia to:

  • develop monitoring protocols for priority sites;
  • understand emerging and increasing activities and pressures;
  • identify and define impacts and management options for emerging industries; and
  • better understand the entire AMP system.

The project continues a long partnership between the Marine and Coastal Hub and its predecessor the Marine Biodiversity Hub. The partnership has supported a growing understanding of AMP natural values, pressures and cumulative impacts, and the establishment of monitoring priorities and the management effectiveness approach.


Developing monitoring protocols for priority sites

Parks Australia has established 40 priority areas for monitoring within AMPs. Monitoring protocols are needed to ensure the monitoring is fit-for-purpose and scientifically rigorous. The protocols will be used for all monitoring activities to facilitate data collection and analysis that is comparable at a national scale and supports a consistent understanding across the AMP network. This project will build on the findings of Project 2.3 to assign values of condition to monitoring priorities, identify indicators that align with management objectives, and develop a process for assessing and reporting pressure indicators. The monitoring protocols will include site-specific monitoring plans, an inventory of existing data and survey methods, and case studies that demonstrate approaches to building partnerships with Traditional Owners.

Address emerging and increasing activities and pressures

Updated and improved information on natural values and likely pressures will be provided to support Parks Australia management plan reviews. This will involve:

  • implementing key recommendations from Project 2.3;
  • developing knowledge transfer systems (such as workflow and data agreements) to provide information on pressures (such as commercial and recreational fisheries catch);
  • updating spatial data on natural values with a focus on seabed habitats on the continental shelf, and working with Parks Australia to develop a process for regular updates; and
  • developing methods to assess risk in order to identify key intervention points to maintain values.

Identify and define impacts and management options for emerging industries

Using the methods developed above to assess risk, the project will develop a process to update knowledge of the risks posed by activities. This work will be coordinated with Project 4.7 ‘Development of regional modelling and risk assessments to inform offshore renewable decision-making’. This will include using offshore renewable energy areas adjacent to AMPs as a test case for this approach, with a focus on identifying:

  • Potential impacts of offshore wind installation and operation on adjacent AMP natural values. (These may include sources of impacts including underwater noise, seabed disturbance sediment transport and vessel interactions.)
  • Facilitated impacts of offshore wind installation and operation on AMP natural values, including the displacement of existing activities into AMPs.
  • Additional applications of this approach that may be necessary such as decommissioning of marine artificial structures, and carbon storage developments.

Better understand the entire marine park system

Researchers will work with Parks Australia, state and territory marine protected area managers and fisheries managers to identify opportunities to link management effectiveness approaches and share scientific understanding. For example, this could include state marine parks adjacent to AMPs where consistency of  data and indicators may allow testing of management effectiveness. This project component will be developed with Parks Australia as part of the Marine Protected Area Science and Management Effectiveness Working Group, which includes state and commonwealth park managers.

Expected outcomes

This project will provide Parks Australia with an improved, nationally connected and consistent evidence-base to support adaptive management of AMPs, management plan reviews, and activities relevant to the Australian Government Nature Positive Plan. This includes:

  • standardised and coordinated monitoring across the AMP network;
  • more informed decision-making;
  • ongoing assessment of management strategies responsive to evolving challenges; and
  • a cohesive approach to the management of marine park systems across state/territory and commonwealth jurisdictions.

Project location

Australian Marine Parks