Standard Presentation (15 mins) Australian Marine Sciences Association 2022

Restoration Requires Recognition: Conservation of Australia’s Coastal and Marine Ecosystems via the EPBC Act.    (#9)

Gina M Newton 1
  1. Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Australia’s Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act) is the national law under which species and ecological communities can be ‘listed’ as threatened across all jurisdictions. Listing relies on an assessment of scientific evidence under a range of regulated criteria to determine eligibility and conservation status (e.g., Vulnerable, Endangered, etc.). If approved, these assessments are published in a Conservation Advice and the threatened entity is listed as a matter of national environmental significance (MNES).

The listing of ‘threatened ecological communities’ (TECs) has experienced a transition over the past decade—from mainly terrestrial, to the first at-risk landscape-scale aquatic/coastal/marine ecosystems (e.g., Giant Kelp Forests, Coastal Saltmarsh, Salt-wedge Estuaries, River Murray). As such, the EPBC Act provides an excellent, and potentially legally enforceable, path to assist restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems.

Benefits of being nationally listed as a TEC include: enhanced visibility, recognition and awareness; a leverage for priority/collaborative research, management and restoration funding and effort across jurisdictions; a foundation assessment of existing literature and data, including priority actions for research and conservation. Importantly, listing provides regulatory protection from significant impacts.

To date, there are only two sub-marine TECs listed, Giant Kelp Forests and Posidonia Seagrass Meadows. Newsflash! Listing begins with a public nomination and anyone can nominate!