Understanding stakeholder involvement in the policy and management of migratory taxa in the Australian marine environment: a case study approach

Miller, Rachel Lynn (2019) Understanding stakeholder involvement in the policy and management of migratory taxa in the Australian marine environment: a case study approach. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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View at Publisher Website: https://doi.org/10.25903/5f4c3d49d28d7
 
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Abstract

Managing threats towards marine migratory species is difficult because the movements of these species are not limited by political jurisdictions. Effective governance of these species requires collaborative and adaptive interventions that are designed and implemented by multiple governance bodies across levels (e.g. local, state, federal government agencies; NGOs; industry bodies). However, although the involvement of diverse stakeholder groups has long been understood to be an integral component of collaborative and adaptive governance of natural resources, it does not come without its challenges. Thus, in order to promote the effective and efficient governance of threats towards marine migratory species throughout their range, it is important to explore the governance system protecting them.

My research is one of the first studies to focus on the governance of threats towards marine migratory species within Australian waters, with an emphasis on stakeholder involvement in the governance of threats towards these species. I used a comprehensive case study approach of four taxa of Matters of National Environmental Significance: marine turtles, dugongs, humpback whales, and non-threatened migratory shorebirds. I used a mix of qualitative and quantitative social science methods to address the overarching aim of my thesis to better inform the governance of threats towards marine migratory species in Australia by understanding stakeholder involvement in this governance system.

To explore the governance of marine migratory species in Australia, I first explored the formal structures that protect marine turtles, dugongs, humpback whales, and non-threatened migratory shorebirds in Australia. I used social network analysis to analyse policy instruments at a national level and from the east coast states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, and Tasmania. I found that there are gaps in the policy instruments protecting these species throughout their range. Policies and management plans rarely connected to other jurisdictions (e.g. between states and/or between a state and the national jurisdiction). Further, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the key piece of legislation that connected policies and management plans across jurisdictions. I suggest implementing an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding for listing migratory species under state and territory environmental legislation that can improve the coherence of mitigating threats to marine migratory species as they move throughout their range.

I then used a combination of a document analysis and snowball sampling to identify the stakeholder agencies involved in the governance of marine migratory species in eastern Australia. I also used qualitative, semi-structured interviews and a focus group to identify the values held by each stakeholder agency. I used the results of the interviews and the focus group to conduct qualitative social network analysis of the governance regime and found that the dominant value connecting most actors within the network is the ecological value of marine migratory species. Further, I identified that the governance system is highly centralised. Leveraging the shared values and the role of bridging actors within the network (e.g. independent researchers) could better promote cross-scale collaboration and harmonise the governance of threats to marine migratory species as they move throughout their range.

I also used results of the qualitative, semi-structured interviews and the focus group to identify the barriers to and opportunities for the effective governance of threats towards marine migratory species. I found that the barriers to and opportunities for stakeholder involvement fell under four key themes: 1) decision-making processes, 2) information sharing processes, 3) institutional structures, and 4) participatory pathways. Some means of improving the governance of threats towards marine migratory species and better involving diverse stakeholder agencies could be through the formation of collaborations, better use of technology to link diverse stakeholder agencies, and clearer, less complex pathways for nongovernment stakeholders to participate in decision-making.

Finally, I evaluated the extent to which collaborative governance is occurring when managing threats towards marine migratory species in Australia by focusing on marine turtles as a case study. I evaluated the Recovery Plan for Marine Turtles in Australia 2017 and its subsidiary plans for components of collaborative governance and interviewed the Plan's developers and other experts in environmental governance and/or the governance of marine migratory species more broadly. I found that although this Plan is a robust document for governing threats towards marine turtles in Australia, future iterations of the Plan would benefit from explicitly outlining roles for stakeholders who wish to participate in implementing the plan. Introducing an expertise-based (yet representative) steering group of diverse stakeholders could help with outlining the roles available for non-government stakeholder agencies, increase collaboration within the governance regime, and reduce the complexity of the Plan, boosting the overall robustness of the regime.

My combined results highlight the importance of developing better collaborations to promote effective governance of threats towards marine turtles, dugongs, humpback whales, and nonthreatened migratory shorebirds in eastern Australia. Such processes can occur through the implementation of a steering group for developing and implementing policy instruments to protect these species, better use of technology to promote cross-scale collaborations of stakeholder agencies, and participatory pathways for non-government stakeholders that are less-complex than the existing pathways. Greater involvement of diverse stakeholder agencies does not come without challenges, but addressing these challenges and involving diverse stakeholders promotes harmonised and efficient governance of threats to marine migratory species. I conclude this thesis by highlighting important areas for future research and by highlighting my key findings.

My original contributions to knowledge arising from this thesis include: 1) a better understanding of the formal structures of the governance system mitigating threats to marine migratory species in eastern Australia and a framework for analysing policy coherence in environmental governance more broadly (Chapter 4), 2) a better understanding of the role that values play in promoting cross-scale collaborations within a governance system (Chapter 5), 3) the barriers to, and opportunities for, effective stakeholder involvement, including identifying 'complexity' as an understudied barrier to stakeholder engagement in environmental governance (Chapter 6), and 4) a new framework for promoting the collaborative governance of marine migratory species with large ranges (Chapter 7).

Item ID: 64199
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: collaborative governance, cross-jurisdictional governance, marine governance, marine migratory species, matters of national environmental significance, policy coherence, policy evaluation, threatened species management
Related URLs:
Copyright Information: Copyright © 2019 Rachel Lynn Miller.
Additional Information:

Two publications arising from this thesis are stored in ResearchOnline@JCU, at the time of processing. Please see the Related URLs. The publications are:

Chapter 4: Miller, Rachel, Marsh, Helene, Cottrell, Alison, and Hamann, Mark (2018) Protecting migratory species in the Australian marine environment: a cross-jurisdictional analysis of policy and management plans. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5. 229.

Chapter 7: Miller, Rachel, Marsh, Helene, Benham, Claudia, and Hamann, Mark (2019) A framework for improving the cross-jurisdictional governance of a marine migratory species. Conservation Science and Practice, 1 (8). e58.

Date Deposited: 31 Aug 2020 00:16
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050205 Environmental Management @ 50%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9607 Environmental Policy, Legislation and Standards > 960701 Coastal and Marine Management Policy @ 50%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960805 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity at Regional or Larger Scales @ 50%
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