The Government Has a Plan to Make Australian Oceans More Sustainable

The Government Has a Plan to Make Australian Oceans More Sustainable

This week, Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek announced the development of a National Sustainable Ocean Plan at the 2023 Ocean Business Leaders’ Summit in Sydney.

Plibersek spoke at the first-ever summit, organised by Ocean Decade Australia and held at the Australian National Maritime Museum. The National Sustainable Ocean Plan announced by the minister is described as a ‘roadmap’ to help determine ‘the kind of future we want for our oceans.’

“[The National Sustainable Ocean Plan] will identify key areas for reform and set out a concrete plan for how we conserve and manage our oceans now and into the future so that we can continue to make the most of our blue economy,” Plibersek said at the summit.

tanya plibersek ocean plan
Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek announced the National Sustainable Ocean Plan at the Ocean Business Leaders’ Summit. Image: Supplied

Industries in the ocean sector like fishing, aquaculture, shipping and offshore energy will be involved in the development of the plan. However, the National Ocean Plan will also account for new entrants like offshore renewables, emerging fisheries and the space and defence sector, for some reason.

Plibersek said that the government will work to deliver on their commitment as members of the High-Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy.

To help them flesh the National Ocean Plan out further, the Minister said that the government will host a National Ocean Summit later in the year to promote collaboration across the industry and stakeholders. The plan will also seek the assistance of the State and Territory governments.

For those of you wondering, the Ocean Business Leader’s Summit’s main objective is to bring together 220 key Australian business executives and ‘thought’ leaders to shape the future of sustainable oceans.

Ocean Decade Australia, the summit’s organisers, said that this meeting is ‘historic’ as it’s the first genuine attempt made at cross-sector conversation about the ocean. The chair of Ocean Decade Australia, Jas Chambers, said the ocean industry rarely has opportunities to naturally meet and discuss the sector, the issues occurring within it and plans for collaboration.

Chambers also likened the inability of those in ocean research, conservationism, fisheries, shipping and aquaculture to talk to the business sector like finance and energy as a problem “in a shared neighbourhood with no fences.” This National Ocean Plan is a way to bridge this gap between sectors.

“The ocean requires private sector actors joining with science and research, policymakers and regulators while being mindful of inclusivity, equity of use and access,”  summit director Doctor Lucy Buxton said on the importance of having the business leaders’ summit. “We’ve gathered a lot of good brains to not just have a nice chat. We have to do the work to determine how the neighbourhood could work better.”

The Ocean Business Leaders’ Summit ran in Sydney for 1.5 days, bringing over 220 participants to openly discuss ocean knowledge, nature, governance and management, energy, overall ocean health, finance and equity. Following the event, there will be a summit white paper that will provide detailed guidance to aid in the shaping of the National Sustainable Ocean Plan.

Ocean Decade Australia is a not-for-profit organisation that consults and connects the country’s stakeholders who wish to create a sustainable future for the ocean, and how to measure it.

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