Australia is a world leader in the management, conservation and sustainable use of the marine environment. Australia maintains an active presence and participation in international marine fora to promote Australia's interests by ensuring effective and complementary approaches to marine conservation, on a regional and global level.
Australia actively participates in a number of environmental fora and agreements with neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region. These include:
The Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI)
The CTI is a recently formed partnership between Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste. The CTI is focussed on improving marine conservation and management and through this, sustainable livelihoods, food security and economic development. Australia is a strong supporter of the CTI and has official partner status. The department leads Australian Government engagement which includes provision of financial, technical and administrative support for the establishment of the permanent Regional Secretariat and support for national scale activities in Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Timor Leste.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC)
Through the APEC Marine Resource Conservation Working Group (MRCWG), Australia supports the development and implementation of projects that lead to improved sustainability of the marine and coastal environment.
The Arafura and Timor Seas Expert Forum (ATSEF)
ATSEF was established to support the sustainable management and use of the resources of the Arafura and Timor Seas through collaboration between government and non-government stakeholders in Australia, Indonesia and Timor Leste. ATSEF operates under a non-binding memorandum of understanding between the three counties. ATSEF also supports the $3 million Global Environment Facility Arafura and Timor Seas Ecosystem Action (ATSEA) program. The department leads Australian Government engagement with ATSEF and ATSEA and also currently acts as National Coordinator for ATSEF Australia.
Australia actively participates in a number of multilateral fora to progress conservation of high seas biodiversity.
The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) provides the international framework for utilising the resources of the world's oceans. Australia is a signatory to UNCLOS and engages in a number of UN fora to strengthen multilateral frameworks for the conservation of biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction. In this context, the department contributes to engagement in the following working groups:
- United Nations Ad Hoc Open-ended Informal Working Group to study issues relating to the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity beyond areas of national jurisdiction ;
- United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea (UNICPOLOS) to facilitate the annual review by the General Assembly of developments in ocean affairs and the law of the sea; and
- The Ad hoc Working group of the Whole, which works on the Regular Process for Global assessment and Reporting on the state of the marine environment.
The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry leads Australia's engagement on international fisheries issues, including RFMOs. The department works with the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, with a particular focus on species conservation issues.
In addition to domestic measures to protect threatened marine species under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, Australia engages with the international community to protect threatened marine wildlife.
Regulating international trade in marine species
Australia is one of more than 150 countries that are a party to Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Each member country controls the import and export of an agreed list of species that are endangered, or at risk of becoming endangered, due to inadequate controls over trade in them or their products.
Agreements for protecting migratory species
Through the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), Australia is signatory to a number of multilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding that promote the conservation of migratory marine species and seabirds.
- More about the Convention on Migratory Species
- Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
International action to protect whales
The key forum for progressing Australia's agenda on whale conservation is the International Whaling Commission (IWC).