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Assessing environmental regulatory arrangements for aquaculture

Commission research paper

This paper was released on 10 February 2004. The paper reviews existing planning and environmental regulatory arrangements for aquaculture in Australia. It reveals significant differences in the way that aquaculture is regulated and administered across states.

The regulations and their jurisdictional differences have implications for both the management of aquaculture and the efficiency of resource allocation.

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  • Media release
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The aquaculture industry is diverse and each sector has different potential environmental impacts of varying degrees of significance.

Aquaculture production is subject to an unnecessarily complex array of legislation and agencies — covering marine and coastal management, environmental management, land use planning, land tenure, and quarantine and translocation.

State aquaculture and/or fisheries legislation have multiple objectives and these are not always clearly defined. The objectives may overlap or conflict, and there is often a lack of guidance as to the relative weights to be placed on each objective.

State government departments primarily responsible for aquaculture regulatory arrangements often have potentially conflicting functions of policy development, implementation of regulation, industry promotion and development, and research.

New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia have made limited progress with marine aquaculture planning. This may constrain marine aquaculture, or result in ad hoc approvals for individual sites, and conflicts over resource use.

In most jurisdictions, there are complex approval processes. Obtaining required approvals can take significant time. There would appear to be scope to rationalise the number of approvals, coordinate approval processes, and incorporate statutory timeframes for assessing approvals.

Increased efficiency and effectiveness of regulatory arrangements for aquaculture could be obtained from greater use of environmental risk assessment based on species, production system, management practices, site location and the condition of the environment.

There is potential for greater use of innovative policy instruments to complement (or in some cases replace) existing regulatory and administrative controls. For example, auctions could be used to allocate leases of public land or water, and tradeable permits could be used to manage pollution discharges.

The development of the aquaculture industry is constrained by an unnecessarily complex array of legislation and regulatory agencies, according to a Productivity Commission research paper.

The research paper — Assessing environmental regulatory arrangements for aquaculture — discusses the appropriateness, efficiency, and effectiveness regulatory arrangements covering aquaculture production in Australia. It identifies a number of key areas including environmental protection, land use planning, marine and coastal management, and land administration.

The study reveals significant differences in the way that aquaculture is regulated and administered across states.

'In most jurisdictions, there are complex approval processes for aquaculture and obtaining approvals can take considerable time. There is scope to rationalise the number of approvals and better coordinate approval processes', said Commissioner Neil Byron.

'Good environmental outcomes are important to both the aquaculture industry and the community — we need to ensure that they are achieved in the most efficient way', said Dr Byron.

The Commission also highlights the need for closer matching the degree of regulation with the environmental risks associated with aquaculture production, and identified a need for further research on the compliance costs of aquaculture approval processes in each jurisdiction.

The study benefited from input by government agencies, industry and non-governmental organisations, including hosting site visits and commenting on a draft report.

Cover, Copyright, Foreword, Contents, Acknowledgments, Abbreviations and explanations, Glossary, Overview, Key Points

1 Aquaculture development in Australia
1.1 Background
1.2 Purpose, scope and approach
1.3 The role of government in aquaculture production
1.4 The broad aquaculture regulatory framework

2 The aquaculture industry in Australia
2.1 Value of Australian aquaculture
2.2 Aquaculture sectors and production systems
2.3 Potential environmental impacts
2.4 Potential industry development constraints
2.5 Summary

3 Legislation and agencies
3.1 The legislative framework
3.2 Agencies involved in aquaculture regulation
3.3 Summary

4 Marine and land use planning and aquaculture production
4.1 Resource planning for marine and coastal areas
4.2 Aquaculture planning for marine and coastal waters
4.3 Land use planning and aquaculture production
4.4 Summary

5 Aquaculture leases and administration
5.1 Marine aquaculture lease categories and uses
5.2 Allocation of marine aquaculture leases
5.3 Term, nature, conditions and rentals for marine aquaculture leases
5.4 Status of marine aquaculture leases
5.5 Public land and aquaculture
5.6 Native title and aquaculture leases
5.7 Summary

6 Approval processes for aquaculture production
6.1 Purpose of approval systems
6.2 Licences, permits and development approvals
6.3 Assessing approval processes
6.4 Summary

7 Approval terms, conditions, monitoring and reporting
7.1 Approval terms
7.2 Conditions
7.3 Appeals
7.4 Monitoring, enforcement and reporting
7.5 Summary

8 Quarantine and translocation
8.1 Quarantine and translocation measures
8.2 Quarantine and translocation legislation
8.3 Assessment of quarantine/translocation framework
8.4 Summary

9 Innovative approaches
9.1 Innovative regulatory instruments
9.2 Market-based approaches
9.3 Voluntary approaches
9.4 Other approaches: education and information
9.5 Summary

10 Concluding comments

A Summary of aquaculture regulatory arrangements

B Mandatory and potential approvals

C Marine and coastal planning instruments

D State environment agencies and aquaculture

E Efficient and effective environmental regulatory arrangements for aquaculture


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