Australia's ocean commitments from Rio+20: moving forward or two steps back?
Vince, JZ and Nursey-Bray, M, Australia's ocean commitments from Rio+20: moving forward or two steps back?, Australian Political Studies Association Conference 2013, 30 September - 2 October 2013, Perth, pp. 1-21. (2013) [Refereed Conference Paper]
Oceans were a key theme of the Rio+20 Conference in 2012 and the importance of the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans was reinforced by the UN member states in The Future We Want agreement. During Rio+20, the Australian delegation focussed on achievements in oceans governance, such as the development of a National System of Marine Protected Areas. Australia announced its ocean commitments that included the prioritisation of international and regional initiatives, as well as maintaining fish stocks, elimination of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing; and the elimination of harmful fisheries subsides that contribute to over-fishing and overcapacity. However, Australia did not specify any new commitments to national oceans policies or holistic approaches to oceans governance. This paper examines Australia‘s role in contributing to a blue economy, our past commitments to integrated oceans governance and whether Australia has the policy capacity to deliver the commitments from Rio+20. Policy capacity relates to the ability to make decisions through processes or procedures, and the quality of decisions through the substance of policy (Peters 1996; Painter and Pierre 2005; Haward 2006; Haward and Vince 2008). It is argued that oceans governance is strengthened through integrated approaches, however, the current Australian government does not have the policy capacity to commit to or deliver them. Nevertheless, Australia‘s current ocean policies do establish a strong commitment to regional initiatives that focus on developing marine spatial plans and the implications of fisheries as food security.