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Questionable interpretation of the Precautionary Principle in Australia's implementation of 'no-take' marine protected areas


Kearney, R and Buxton, CD and Goodsell, P and Farebrother, G, Questionable interpretation of the Precautionary Principle in Australia's implementation of 'no-take' marine protected areas, Marine Policy, 36, (3) pp. 592-597. ISSN 0308-597X (2012) [Refereed Article]

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.marpol.2011.10.018


The introduction of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Australia has resulted in an increase in the number and total area of ‘no-take’ zones. The resulting closures impact all forms of commercial and recreational fishing in and around them despite international recognition indicating that Australian fisheries were already well managed according to ecological sustainable development guidelines. Furthermore, it is recognised within Australia that most MPAs are not designed to provide protection from the full suite of known threats that can affect biodiversity and long-term ecosystem viability. By directing MPA management disproportionately towards comprehensive no-take zones that affect fishing practices that are already required by state and federal legislation to adhere to sustainability requirements, the suite of threats affecting both protected and unprotected areas can be left inadequately and/or inappropriately managed. It is shown in this paper that the modified definition of the Precautionary Principle, which was developed specifically for the MPA process in Australia, is not in keeping with accepted international definitions and guidelines for the use of precaution. It is argued that the development of a definition of precaution to justify a predetermined output (MPAs) devalues the sound use of scientific principles and diminishes the conservation outcome. Furthermore, by distracting efforts from determining and managing the full suite of recognised threats, the value of what protection is provided in Australia's marine protected areas is eroded further.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:marine protected areas, conservation, precautionary principle
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Fisheries sciences
Research Field:Aquaculture
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean environments
Objective Field:Assessment and management of Antarctic and Southern Ocean ecosystems
UTAS Author:Buxton, CD (Professor Colin Buxton)
UTAS Author:Farebrother, G (Mr Graham Farebrother)
ID Code:74452
Year Published:2012
Web of Science® Times Cited:11
Deposited By:Sustainable Marine Research Collaboration
Deposited On:2011-12-01
Last Modified:2014-12-19
Downloads:5 View Download Statistics

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