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F Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom Oceans Policy

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The World’s current approach to ocean policy and sustainable maritime development is based on two main International strategic foundations: UNCLOS and UNCED. Both if integrated they provide the basis for oceans governance and oceans policy frame work. They enable states to exercise and protect National’s sovereign rights and jurisdiction over marine resources and offshore areas. At the same time they obligate states to ensure ocean uses are ecologically sustainable. The implementation of the provisions of UNCLOS, related Conventions, rules and standards relating to the protection and preservation of the marine environment and to the conservation and management of living marine resources, as well as the implementation of the commitments agreed to in Chapter 17 of Agenda 21, present some of the major challenges facing the international ocean community. These challenges cannot be met by one region, one State, one ministry, or one local community alone. It is therefore very important to strengthen cooperation and coordination at all levels. At the national level, the marine dimension must be integrated within the overall national policy. The adoption of an ocean policy is a very important mechanism to achieving an integrated, interdisciplinary, intersectoral and ecosystem-based approach to oceans management. A coherent legislative framework is also essential. However the development of this national oceans policy depends on every state situation. Vertical and horizontal integration between these two foundations, need a high political umbrella and a lead ministry for setting the national marine agenda. This agenda must be based on sound scientific priorities development plan required for understanding how best to protect National’s marine biological diversity, the ocean environment and its resources, and on a wide consultation process with all stakeholder. Comparative analysis of the development process of national ocean policy in major maritime nations such as Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, shows in spite of the fact that Agenda 21 has provided a clear defined programme and management activities, each country have followed a different approach in developing its national oceans management strategy. All of them have used these two international foundations and their guiding principles in developing their oceans policies. These approaches are integrated in content and are precautionary and anticipatory in ambit, as required by UNCLOS and as reflected in the Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 programme areas. The first programme in chapter 17 is “Integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas, including exclusive economic zones.” (Agenda 21, 1992). To this end, and according to Chapter 17 the state should establish the necessary strengthening appropriate coordinating mechanisms (such as a high-level policy planning body) (Agenda 21, 1992). It further states “Such mechanisms should include consultation, as appropriate, with the academic and private sectors, non-governmental organizations, local communities, resource user groups, and indigenous people.” Also coastal states are required “to improve their capacity to collect, analyse, assess and use information for sustainable use of resources, including environmental impacts of activities affecting the coastal and marine areas. Information for management purposes should receive priority support in view of the intensity and magnitude of the changes occurring in the coastal and marine areas.” Other related management activities include:

  1. Preparation and implementation of land and water use and sitting policies;
  2. Implementation of integrated coastal and marine management and sustainable development plans and programmes at appropriate levels;
  3. Preparation of coastal profiles identifying critical areas, including eroded zones, physical processes, development patterns, user conflicts and specific priorities for management;
  4. Prior environmental impact assessment, systematic observation and follow-up of major projects, including the systematic incorporation of results in decision-making;
  5. Contingency plans for human induced and natural disasters, including likely effects of potential climate change and sea level rise, as well as contingency plans for degradation and pollution of anthropogenic origin, including spills of oil and other materials;
  6. Improvement of coastal human settlements, especially in housing, drinking water and treatment and disposal of sewage, solid wastes and industrial effluents;
  7. Periodic assessment of the impacts of external factors and phenomena to ensure that the objectives of integrated management and sustainable development of coastal areas and the marine environment are met;
  8. Conservation and restoration of altered critical habitats;
  9. Integration of sectoral programmes on sustainable development for settlements, agriculture, tourism, fishing, ports and industries affecting the coastal area;
  10. Infrastructure adaptation and alternative employment;
  11. Human resource development and training;
  12. Public education, awareness and information programmes;
  13. Promoting environmentally sound technology and sustainable practices;
  14. Development and simultaneous implementation of environmental quality criteria.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia stands at a cross road. The Kingdom has the opportunity to develop its maritime sector and sustainably manage national marine resources. The status of national marine resources and governance is not good; marine resources are degraded and marine governance is inadequate. This indicates that an urgent action is needed to save the threatened national seas and opportunities. As has been highlighted and underlined in previous chapters, Saudi Arabia marine governance must be reorganized under one document: a comprehensive National Marine Policy. Comprehensive national marine policies are a relatively new trend in ocean governance. As implied they address all marine and coastal issues. NMPs are a response to the sectoral fragmented approach currently dominating marine governance which often leads to unorganized management and authority as new responsibilities are delegated to different agencies as they arise. In addition to incorporating all marine and coastal issues, NMPs seek to integrate all levels of governance: local, provincial, national, regional and international. The term “integrated management” is used to describe this approach. Although many countries and regions have created comprehensive marine or ocean policies, I focus on marine policy development process and governance as developed and experienced in Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom for two reasons: First they represent the first three leading countries in the world that have developed comprehensive ocean policy and governance framework and is being implemented and tried to differing levels of success; Canada enacted the Oceans Act of 1996 followed by the release of Australia’s Ocean Policy in 1998. Great Britain followed in May 2002, with Safeguarding Our Seas: A Strategy for the Conservation and Sustainable Development of our Marine Environment. Each country has followed a different policy route to sustainable oceans development. While Australia has followed a totally pure policy frame work by providing a new structure, mechanism and policy guidance for delivering its comprehensive national oceans policy; Canada followed a different approach by first providing a comprehensive legal framework for oceans uses and resources management within Canada’ different maritime zones including the 200nm EEZ and continental shelf, second by producing Canada Oceans Strategy in July of 2002. The United Kingdom has followed a totally different approach by first developing a conservation strategy followed by introducing a single piece of legislation to protect the marine environment by enacting in 2009 the Marine and Coastal Act. Second, the three countries have developed their policies in accordance with Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 and based on the 1994 United Nation’s Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Being the world leaders in oceans policies, I focus on oceans policy development process in these three countries as examples; their successes and leadership role in oceans policy can guide the creation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia National Marine Policy.

Comparative Overview of Australia, Canada and the United Kingdom oceans policy


  1. Initiation Process:

Australia is the first country to set in place a policy framework for an integrated and ecosystem based planning and management for all of Australia’s marine jurisdictions. With the release of Australia’s Oceans Policy (AOP) in 1998, Australia has demonstrated a world leadership by implementing a coherent, strategic planning and management framework for dealing with complex issues confronting the long term future of Australia’s oceans (AOP1, 1999). AOP was initiated by a political announcement from the prime minister, followed by a wide public consultation process using a consultation document (Oceans- New Horizon). AOP process was initiated by the end of 1995 when the Prime Minister at that time announced that the Commonwealth government had agreed to the development of an “integrated oceans strategy” that would deal with the management of Australia’s marine resources (AOP, 1998). However, due to the federal election and change of government little progress was achieved, but in 1996 the new government announced that it would continue developing the oceans policy as being an “environmental protection policy” and transferred the responsibility for developing the policy agenda from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Environment, Sport and Territories (DEST) (Bateman, 1997). Later on the name of this department has been changed to the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) charged with protecting and conserving Australia’s natural environment and cultural heritage.

  1. Lead Ministry:

In 1996 the new Australian government announced that it would continue developing the oceans policy as being an “environmental protection policy” and transferred the responsibility for developing the policy agenda from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet to the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH) (Vince, 2003). As a result of the transfer of responsibility for oceans policy development, Australia Environment Minister led the process by establishing an intergovernmental committee to assist with the preparation of the policy (Vince, 2003). Using the collaborative arrangements and formal intergovernmental linkages, the Minister established a committee encompassing members from major Commonwealth agencies involved in marine affairs. Also a number of other committees were formed during these early stages of development to assist with the development of a discussion paper (Vince, 2003). The Committee has prepared the Oceans-New Horizon paper which has been launched in March 1997 to assist in the first consultations round with State, Territory and Local governments, peak bodies and organizations and the general public. The New Horizon set out a draft vision, goal and objectives for Australia’ Oceans Policy and an indication of some of the broad issues relevant to an Oceans Policy as well as briefly introducing some of the features of Australia oceans (New Horizon, 1997).

  1. Consultation Process:

After the publication of the New Horizon paper a second round of consultation begun through a public forum to review the draft policy paper (MAGOP, 1998). During this process, Environment Australia organised public forums where the public could get an overview of the Issues Paper and to provide comment. The forums consisted of two parts, the first part included a formal briefing from Environment Australia officials while the second component was an information session organised by the state branches of the Marine and Coastal Communities Network (MCCN) (Vince, 2003).

  1. Maritime Ministerial Board

Before the release of AOP the Australian Government established a Ministerial Advisory Group on Ocean Policy in 1997 to provide advice to the Minister for Environment and Heritage on the views of the broad range of stakeholders of the policy and any other issues the Group thought relevant to the development of the policy (AOP1, 1998). It has also been suggested that the MAGOP was established to gain the support of NGOs during the Policy process as well as to promote public awareness (Vince, 2003). Later on the MAGOP was replaced by a National Oceans Ministerial Board (NOMB) of key Commonwealth Ministers, chaired by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage (Foster, 2005). The task of the board is to drive the implementation of the AOP by overseeing regional planning processes, furthering policy development, overseeing cross sector coordination, setting priorities for program expenditure and coordinating the Oceans Policy with State governments (AOP1, 1998).

  1. Oceans Strategy:

Based on the wide policy consultation process Australia was quickly able to develop its sustainable National Ocean Policy and vision of “Healthy oceans: cared for, understood and used wisely for the benefit of all, now and in the future”(AOP1, 1998). The aim of the strategy is to overcome problems perceived to arise from a division of powers and responsibilities leading to jurisdictional overlap and inconsistencies in ocean management (Vince, et al. 2003). The strategy also intends to overcome the problems and limitations imposed by sector based management by supporting integration across sectors through regional marine planning. AOP came in two volumes (AOP1, 1998). The first volume targeted nine major objectives: “1) exercise and protect Australia’s rights and jurisdiction over offshore areas, including offshore resources. 2) To meet Australia’s international obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and other international treaties. 3) To understand and protect Australia’s marine biological diversity, the ocean environment and its resources, and ensure ocean uses are ecologically sustainable. 4) To promote ecologically sustainable economic development and job creation. 5) To establish integrated oceans planning and management arrangements. 6) To accommodate community needs and aspirations. 7) To improve expertise and capabilities in ocean-related management, science, technology and engineering. 8) To identify and protect Australia’s natural and cultural marine heritage. 9) To promote public awareness and understanding” (AOP1, 1998). The key principles that were used in developing Australia ocean policy intrinsically; indigenous peoples’ interests; stewardship ethic; intergenerational and social equity; ecologically sustainable use; conservation of biological diversity; participatory, transparent and accountable decision making and management; and integrated planning and management(AOP1, 1998).

  1. Ocean Action Plan:

The second volume of Australia’s Oceans Policy complements the first volume of the Policy by outlining specific measures that are being or will be pursued by the Commonwealth across ocean sectors and interest(AOP2, 1998). The Specific Sectoral Measures volume is comprehensive in its scope, covering the major environmental, industry, community, research, scientific, international and defence interests that the Commonwealth has responsibility for in marine jurisdictions. The document has identified 390 commitments across those five broad areas and detailed implementation schedule of actions. The schedule identified organisations responsible for implementing actions, priorities, milestones and resourcing (AOP2, 1998). This detail facilitated the auditing of the Policy and contributed to an assessment of its effectiveness.

  1. New Institution

To implement AOP a National Oceans Office (NOO), was established to provide secretariat and technical support and programme delivery for oceans policy initiatives(AOP1, 1998). The NOO was responsible for coordinating the overall implementation and finalize the detailed implementation schedule of actions and further development of the Oceans Policy(AOP2, 1998). NOO also was responsible for coordination and distribution of information on oceans policy implementation and regional marine planning matters to all stakeholders(Addison and Chenko, et al. 2005). Other new institutions included the National Oceans Ministerial Board, Regional Marine Plan Steering Committees and the National Oceans Advisory Group (NOAG). In 2005 NOO lost its executive agency status and is now located within the Marine Division of the Department of Environment and Heritage (DEH, 2005). The Minister of Environment and Heritage has the responsibility for NOO through the department and reports to Cabinet on its progress (Haward and Vince, 2006).

  1. Ocean Research Priorities Plan:

Whilst AOP development process was progressing, the Marine Science and Technology Working Group, comprising representatives of Australian Government marine science and related agencies, as well as State research institutions and non-government marine science interests; were working to develop Australia’s Marine Science and Technology Plan (Alder, 2001). The government aimed to develop and release the Plan as a companion to Australia’s Oceans Policy(Vince, 2004). The Marine scientific advisory committee was tasked with promoting coordination and information sharing between Government marine science agencies and across the broader Australian marine science community(AMSTP, 1999). The MSTC prepared a Marine Science and Technology Plan to provide a strategy, consistent with the Oceans Policy, for integrated and innovative science, technology and engineering. The Plan encompasses three major programs under each program multiple objectives(AMSTP, 1999): .

  • Understanding the Marine Environment ( 7 objectives)
  • Using and Caring for the Marine Environment ( 15 objectives)
  • Infrastructure for Understanding and Utilising the Marine Environment ( 6 objectives).
  1. Legislation:

Australia Oceans Policy has established new institutions to oversee the implementation of the Regional Marine Planning process. The institutions have emphasised a departure from traditional sectoral arrangements whilst incorporating over 100 laws and policy instruments addressing aspects of the management of the marine environment and the legal jurisdictional framework established through offshore federalism(Haward and Vince, 2006). The Offshore Constitutional Settlement (OCS) returned the jurisdiction over 3nm from the low water mark to the states(Stark, 2004). OCS remains the primary intergovernmental arrangement governing ocean and marine resources in Australia and makes up the jurisdictional framework for the development and implementation of the Ocean Policy(Vince, 2004). Since Australia Ocean Policy has been developed as being an “environmental protection policy” the principal Australian legislation is the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999(cth) (EPBC Act)(Akwilapo, 2007). The EPBC Act and the associated Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Regulation 2000 (EPBC Regulation) provide a national framework for Environment protection through focusing on protecting areas of national environmental significance and on the conservation of Australia’s biodiversity (Akwilapo, 2007). On the other hand, a commitment to ecologically sustainable development and multiple use management is embedded within the Oceans Policy framework emphasising a commitment to, inter alia, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development’s (UNCED) Agenda 21 principles and UNCLOS (Akwilapo, 2007).

  1. Integrated Marine Spatial Planning

The AOP emphasised that Australia’ Regional Marine Plans is based on large marine ecosystems. This system helps to maintain ecosystem health and integrity while promoting multiple use of oceans by integrating sectoral commercial interests and conservation requirements. Australia approach to Integrated Ocean Planning and Management encompass the following(AOP2, 1998):

  • Development of a new institutional arrangement comprising the National Oceans Ministerial Board, the National Oceans Advisory Group and the National Oceans Office and Regional Marine Plan Steering Committees.
  • Providing policy guidance for oceans planning and management.
  • Regional Marine Plan, based on large marine ecosystems. The first plan was developed for the south-eastern region of Australia’s EEZ.
  • Funds for National marine resource surveys; development of sustainability indicators and monitoring; and rapid assessments of the biological resources of Australia’s oceans. The resulting information based was used to underpin effective regional integration for planning and management. These assessments also benefit industry by providing information on potential new resources such as deep-water fisheries and pharmaceuticals.
  • Development of National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas.
  • Development of Marine Parks and World Heritage Areas.
  1. Maritime Safety and Environment Protection Plan

The Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) has developed a strategy to protect the marine environment from shipping operations through improved environmental management of shipping and related activities(Stark, 2004). The strategy encompass: designation of marine sensitive areas, promote improvement of waste reception facilities at ports, marinas and boat harbours, improve anti-fouling practices, management and piloting a national monitoring programme for marine debris, community and industry awareness, and support for the enhanced National Plan to Combat Pollution of the Sea by Oil and Other Noxious and Hazardous Substances (the National Plan) (AOP1, 1998). Under the AOP the Government committed to enhance maritime safety and highlighted the importance of enhancing regional cooperative arrangement for search and rescue, development and implementation of search and rescue arrangements; implementation of the Global Maritime Distress Safety System(GMDSS), pursue consistent requirements for the use of Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacons (EPIRBs) and maritime communications for small vessels(AOP2, 1998). To further ensure the Safety of Navigation, the Government committed to maintain efficient coast-effective maritime safety navigation services and infrastructure, expansion of the local area Differential Global Positioning Systems (DGPS) services; technological development in marine navigation, and involvement in the International Association of Lighthouse Authorities and other international forums to ensure global navigational safety policies, standards and new technologies(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Maritime Surveillance and Security Plan

To ensure that there is an effective and efficient surveillance capacity for Australia’s marine jurisdictions and effective enforcement of national legislation throughout Australia’s marine jurisdictions. Under the Oceans Policy the Australian government continued to pursue through the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) and other; to increase action addressing illegal fishing in CCAMLR and adjacent waters; increased surveillance and enforcement measures in the Great Barrier Reef; continued to cooperate to review and rationalise effort involved in and capacity for surveillance and enforcement including reviewing legislation relating to enforcement in Australia’s marine jurisdictions(AOP2, 1998). The Oceans Policy highlighted that the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) tasks encompass safeguarding these areas, controlling of maritime approaches to exercise and protect Australia’s sovereignty and sovereign rights. This involve preparedness and contingency planning; maritime surveillance and response; fisheries law enforcement; search and rescue; hydrographic services; and the Australian Oceanographic Data Centre (AODC)(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Maritime Sector Development Plan

During AOP development process the Marine Industry Development Strategy was also announced. The Strategy highlighted what the Marine Industry is worth what should incur for further resourceful developments(AOP2,1998). It illustrated that 90 per cent of Australia’s oil and gas is sourced offshore; that the shipbuilding industry supplies one third of the world’s high speed ferry market; wild capture fisheries represent a major primary industry; and that marine tourism is a booming industry(Vince, 2004). The Specific Measures Volume of Australia Oceans Policy underpinned several challenges facing the maritime sector and the various activities such as : fisheries; aquaculture; offshore petroleum and minerals; shipping; marine tourism; marine construction, engineering and other industries; pharmaceutical, biotechnology and genetic resources; and alternative energy resources. For meeting these challenges the policy proposed numerous activities under each one of them. For example to meet the shipping sector challenge to increase trade and regional development by delivering safe, efficient, competitive and environmentally responsible maritime infrastructure and shipping services(AOP2, 1998). The policy identified measures including: regulatory reform of the maritime sector with a view to removing barriers to competition, rationalise jurisdictional arrangements, harmonise standards and promote mutual recognition; and encourage continuous improvements in shipping and waterfront sectors to enhance the competitiveness of Australian trade and industry; to continue Australia leading role in international trade and maritime forums to ensure access to competitive and efficient international shipping services is maintained(AOP2, 1998).

  1. Marine Education and Training Plan

Under Australia’s Marine Science and Technology Plan, NOO is responsible for providing advice to the Ministerial Board on marine research priorities relevant to the Oceans Policy to ensure that the marine research agencies are kept informed of the Government’s emerging priorities(TFG, 2002). The NOMB is responsible to consider Government priorities for publicly funded marine research related to the implementation of the Oceans Policy including: community capacity building, networking opportunities, and community participation in marine management, research and monitoring and data collection; and provide opportunities for community representation on consultative committees in regard to marine resource management, the establishment of a new marine science research and teaching centre at Coffs Harbour; support for the Australian, Pacific and Global Oceans Observing Systems; establishment and operation of a Regional Office of the International Oceanographic Commission in Perth, Western Australia; provision of quality maritime education and research; and training and employment in jointly managed parks; development of a long term marine education policy and programme for kindergarten to year 12 to be incorporated in curricula in all States and Territories; development of relevant resource materials for use in schools and Technical and Further Education colleges in cooperation with professional bodies; and support for the provision of quality practical educational material for teachers and students(AMSTP, 1999).

  1. National Maritime Information Center

To improve monitoring and understanding of marine ecosystems and the impacts of resource use Australia government has developed the Australian Coastal Atlas, within the Environmental Resource Information Network (ERIN), to allow general access to adequate information for community involvement in oceans management as a fundamental element of the Australian Spatial Data Infrastructure(AOP2, 1998). Thus, the Australian government provided support for the Marine and Coastal Community Network to develop a comprehensive communication strategy to assist the public, industry and governments learn about and understand the role of Australia’s Oceans Policy. Also the government supported the Australian Surveying and Land Information Group (AUSLIG’s) continuing development of the Australian Maritime Boundaries Information System as a national database of Australia’s maritime jurisdictional boundary data to provides Australia’s with an independent and scientifically credible information on Australia’s environment for decision-makers and the wider community(AOP2, 1998). AUSLIG is the Commonwealth focal point for coordination of geodetic information and works closely with State and Territory agencies, the Inter-governmental Committee on Surveying and Mapping (ICSM) and industry groups towards the provision of the highest quality geodetic infrastructure(AUSLIG, 2009). Moreover, AUSLIG’s under the ocean policy is responsible for the development of a coordinated observations and methods to analyse and interpret the data that will make optimum use of information from remote and in situ measurements at the space and time scales required for effective monitoring, use, management and conservation(AOP2, 1998). It is clear that the lack of a comprehensive system of monitoring sites, and lack of long-term commitment to monitoring inshore and offshore, particularly on the scale of large marine ecosystems has affected Australia ability to assess changes in the condition of the marine environment. Thus, AOP recognized that Integration of coastal, inshore and offshore monitoring activities is vital to National capacity for future assessments and maintenance of marine and coastal environments(AOP1, 1998).

  1. National Oceans Forum

To provide for Community representation and participation, the AOP established a National Oceans Advisory Group as a non-government consultative and advisory body to the National Oceans Ministerial Board(AOP1, 1998). The NOAG is responsible for promoting strategic management of the ocean environment and its resources; to provide opportunities for community representation on consultative committees in regard to marine resource management and facilitate consultation with peak indigenous groups on the requirements for establishing a national consultative mechanism, such as an annual forum(AOP1, 1998). Thus, to promote implementation of Australia Oceans Policy, the policy called for holding a National Oceans Forum to coordinate across the agencies responsible for the development of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and a broad national cross-section of those with a stake in the management of Australia oceans(IOC, 2007).

  1. International Cooperation:

Given the dynamic nature of the marine environment, AOP recognized that the effective implementation of the Oceans Policy requires cooperation with immediate neighbours and other countries to address the transboundary impacts and improve regional cooperation on ocean issues(AOP1, 1998). Thus, AOP called for: peaceful use of the oceans and cooperation in access for national and international scientific research and monitoring programmes; cooperation with neighbouring countries and with industries to maximise resources; improved cooperation and coordination between existing coastal mo

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