Strategic Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Marine Parks in NSW March 2004

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1 Strategic Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Marine Parks in NSW March 2004 Prepared by the NSW Marine Parks Research Committee March 2004 Printed on environmentally friendly stock 1 NSW Marine Parks Research Committee

2 Ministers Foreword Strategic Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Marine Parks in NSW The NSW Government has an established program for the declaration of a system of marine protected areas along the coast of NSW. The system will continue to be formed through the declaration of marine parks, aquatic reserves and the marine components of national parks and nature reserves. Evaluating the effectiveness of NSW s system of marine parks through quality science is a high priority for the NSW Government. Scientific research programs that adhere to world s best practice standards are required to identify the best places for new marine parks, the best arrangement of zones within them and the most appropriate management practices to be used to run them. Extensive, long-term scientific monitoring programs are also needed to assess the performance of established marine parks, and the zones within them, in meeting their conservation and multiple use objectives. We are delighted therefore that this strategic framework is being provided to guide the implementation of scientific programs in our marine parks. We look forward to the many research providers in NSW, from the university, public and private sectors, using this framework when setting research and funding priorities and look forward to the forging of exciting new partnerships in research and monitoring so that the needs identified in this framework are achieved The Hon Ian Macdonald MLC The Hon Bob Debus MP NSW Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Minister for the Environment Ministers Foreword 2

3 Contents MINISTERS FOREWORD PURPOSE BACKGROUND VISION KEY ELEMENTS OF THE FRAMEWORK Major Priority 1 Selecting marine parks and their boundaries Major Priority 2 Monitoring, evaluating and modifying marine park boundaries and zoning arrangements Supporting Research: Developing a comprehensive research portfolio for each marine park Reporting Research: Developing a comprehensive research portfolio for each marine park IMPLEMENTATION OF THE STRATEGIC FRAMEWORK REFERENCES APPENDIX Membership of MPRC Contents

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5 Strategic Framework for the Evaluation and Monitoring of Marine Parks in NSW March 2004 PURPOSE The purpose of this strategy is to provide a vision and structure for the development of research and monitoring programs in the marine parks of NSW for the period BACKGROUND Existing scientific information justifies the application of marine protected areas as a major tool in the long-term management of marine resources. A network of such areas is considered by many in the international scientific community to be necessary for the long-term conservation of marine biodiversity and the management of sustainable fisheries (NCEAS 2000). Further, such a network can be expected to provide a critical benchmark for the evaluation of threats to marine ecosystems by providing unimpacted areas against which perturbed areas can be compared. 5 Purpose / Background

6 The need for a strategic framework covering scientific activities in marine protected areas in NSW was identified in the document Developing a Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in NSW - an Overview (November, 2001)'. That document (referred to hereafter as the Marine Protected Areas Overview) provides background information on the legislation covering marine protected areas, the bioregions along the NSW coast, and the goals and principles for establishing and managing a representative system of marine protected areas. The Strategic Framework for Evaluation and Monitoring (as with the Marine Protected Areas Overview) represents a 'whole-of-government' approach to the sustainable management of marine resources in NSW. The framework was prepared by the Marine Parks Research Committee (MPRC), an advisory committee to the Marine Park Authority made up of scientists from the NSW Fisheries and National Parks & Wildlife Service (see Appendix 1). The Marine Protected Areas Overview repeatedly notes that evaluating the effectiveness of these areas in conserving marine biodiversity is a high priority for the NSW Government. The setting of this priority recognises that a central and ongoing role for the Marine Park Authority must be to use sound scientific procedures for 2 fundamental activities: 1. identifying the best places for new marine parks, the best arrangement of zones within them and the most appropriate management practices, 2. monitoring the performance of established marine parks and the zones within them. Background 6

7 In preparing this strategic framework for evaluation and monitoring in NSW marine parks, basic premises, derived from the Marine Protected Areas Overview, are that: by the year 2007, NSW will have in place a system of marine protected areas that is comprehensive, adequate and representative, marine parks will be the largest component of that system, and there will be at least one marine park in each bioregion and marine province along the NSW coast, each marine park will have an effective Zoning Plan, dividing the park into several management units, sanctuaries (totally protected zones) will be the most important management units in marine parks for achieving long-term conservation of NSW's marine biodiversity. other management units, particularly habitat protection zones, also will have important roles in protecting marine biodiversity. The compilation of this strategy is based on the need to protect marine species, habitats and ecosystems in NSW within a marine park network. It identifies what research and monitoring are needed to achieve that goal. The rationale for including both research and monitoring in this strategy is succinctly summarised in the following passage from the Year 2000 Monitoring Report for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in the USA:.research and monitoring employ similar methods, are often conducted by the same people and agencies, and must be linked to one another. Research is goal-oriented with well defined, testable hypotheses, and is of finite duration. Monitoring involves systematic, long-term data collection and analysis to measure the state of the resource and detect changes over time. Detecting such changes can prompt management decisions, can be used to evaluate the success of management strategies, and can focus research on determining the reason for the change. While endorsing the general tenor of the above statement, especially the need to closely link all scientific activity, this strategic framework for NSW marine parks argues that the rigorous testing of explicitly stated hypotheses should be a feature of both research and monitoring. VISION The vision for this strategy for NSW marine parks follows logically from section 7 of the Marine Protected Areas Overview, and is based on similar strategic documents for other marine protected areas around the world. The vision is that: Locations and boundaries for marine parks and the zoning arrangements within them will have been derived from thorough scientific assessments of all available information and data, to provide the best combination of areas for the conservation of biodiversity. Rigorous research and monitoring are accepted as vital components of ongoing marine park management, and are resourced accordingly. Accurate and timely scientific advice is provided to marine park Managers. Scientific information systems and services are established and integrated with those of other organisations with an interest in coastal protection. The public of NSW and the international scientific community have full confidence in the quality of the research conducted in marine parks. 7 Vision

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