Design and implementation of management strategy evaluation for the Great Barrier Reef inshore (MSE-GBR)

Dichmont, Catherine M., Dutra, Leo X.C., van Putten, Ingrid, Deng, Roy, Owens, Randall, Jebreen, Eddie, Thompson, Carolyn, Pascual, Richardo, Warne, Michael, Quinn, Ross, Thébaud, Olivier, Bennett, John, Read, Mark, Wachenfeld, David, Davies, Julia, Garland, Anna, Dunning, Malcolm, Waycott, Michelle, Collier, Catherine, Dambacher, Jeffrey M., Playford, Julia, Harm, Rachel, Gribble, Neil, and Pitcher, Roland (2014) Design and implementation of management strategy evaluation for the Great Barrier Reef inshore (MSE-GBR). Report. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre, Cairns, Australia.

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[Extract] Stakeholder engagement is important for successful management, both to make effective decisions and to obtain support. However, in the context of coastal management, question s rem in on h ow to effectively link decisions made in the catchment with objectives for marine biodiversity and fisheries productivity. Moreover, there is much uncertainty on how to best in form and elicit community input in a rigorous manner. A decision support process is described that elicits management objectives, priorities and management options using two case studies. The case studies show that demand for local input and regional management is high, but local conditions influence the relative success. Differences between case study outcomes high light the importance of discussing objectives prior to suggesting management actions. In that regard, eliciting the broader community’s objectives can now be undertaken cost effectively through new survey methods. Governance arrangements can be developed that link managers and community members, but continuity is essential. A big contributor to success is providing local information to the community group and embedding managers and influencers within the group. Of great value to positive outcomes were that the scientists, managers and community members were prepared to work together and offer enormous volunteer time to work towards a common solution.

Two case studies were selected to develop an overall method of using a regional management process with local community groups to develop local management options – Mackay and Bowen-Burdekin. These two case studies were chosen for what they have in common and also what separates them. Both ca se studies have in common that the rural area is mostly farming for which accelerated management activity has been directed to reduce the a mount of sediment and nutrient runoff to the GBR. However, the two regions’ ports are distinct in that, during the study period, a major proposed port upgrade with associated dredging in the Abbott Point are(just south of the Burdekin) was a source of conflict in the region and great controversy within Australia. Whereas the Mackay port s were well established and are presently not as controversial. The population size is also very different with Mackay having a far larger urban footprint with a growing city although this may have slowed down in recent years due to the general downturn in mining activity.

A hierarchical system of engagement was attempted in both region s. At the highest level, a community group, the Local Marine Advisory Committee (LM AC) run by GBRMPA was already established in the region. Its charter is to advise GBRMPA on local management issues ( Since the LMACs met every quarter with a full agenda, a sub-committee was formed and called the LMAC Reference Group (RG). This was made up of LMAC members who volunteered for the group and additional members that would cover a broader skill set from people who were previously on the LMAC. The project lead facilitated the RG meetings, with a member elected as the RG chair.

The project team included “managers” (defined as people that either directly or indirectly influence management decisions) from QDAFF and GBRMPA, and social, economic, mathematical and environmental scientists from both State and Commonwealth agencies.

Within a few months of project engagement in the Bowen-Burdekin area, the Abbott point port expansion and associated dredging controversy meant that participation was minimal. An alternative approach was undertaken, but generally meant engaging with individuals directly and separately. Interactions between the different RG and LMAC members were minimal. In Mackay, the RG was very successful and was used throughout the process.

At various stages in the process community and senior level managers’ input was sought. All documentation was kept in a traceable format, i.e. iterations of all steps could be backtracked through the various meetings to its original source.

A local Mackay GBRMPA person devoted an enormous amount of time on support and engagement in between meetings. This support was essential and provided local continuity. A sequence of broad steps were undertaken: 1. Qualitative modelling of the Mackay coastal system; 2. A review of existing objectives from government organisations, NGO s and NRM bodies that were directly or indirectly relevant to the region was undertaken (both case studies). These were collated by the RGs into an objective hierarchy –one for each case study; 3. A survey of the RG, LM AC and Mackay public was undertaken to ascertain the relative importance of different objectives. A new method was developed during this process; 4. An issues register, direct and indirect management options, and responsible agencies for each topic relevant to managing the coastal zone fisheries and biodiversity were developed through a series of workshop with experts and RG. These were combined into management strategies and is a separate printed product for use by Mackay residents and NGOs; 5. An impact assessment was undertaken to determine the relative importance of the different management strategies. These were then turned into a series of management-orientated products for use by relevant management agencies. The project has uncovered a conundrum that does challenge the effectiveness of management because there can be a significant gap between the perception of managers with regard s to their action s and outcomes and the perception of the community as to the effectiveness (and wisdom) of the management action(s).

A review of the successes and failures of the two case studies by the project tea m were undertaken through questionnaires to the Mackay RG and managers.

The final and main product of the project is a semi-quantitative generic elicitation framework that ultimately provides a prioritised list of management option s in the context of clearly articulated management objectives that has broader application to coastal communities in Australia and beyond. It comes with detailed instructions, and generic objectives and management strategies.

Item ID: 49811
Item Type: Report (Report)
ISBN: 978-1-925088-67-0
Additional Information:

Project 9.2

Date Deposited: 15 Aug 2017 05:16
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050209 Natural Resource Management @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9505 Understanding Past Societies > 950503 Understanding Australias Past @ 40%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960902 Coastal and Estuarine Land Management @ 30%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9609 Land and Water Management > 960903 Coastal and Estuarine Water Management @ 30%
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