Australia's Marine Protected Area practice: exploring interactions between national and international law and policy
Australia has positioned itself as a world leader in Marine Protected Area (MPA) practice through its significant national MPA network as well as its heavy involvement in the creation of high seas MPAs in the Antarctic. Meanwhile, negotiations are currently ongoing for a new implementing agreement to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) to conserve and sustainably utilise marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). High seas MPAs are explicitly highlighted as a key component of one of the four “package elements” to be agreed upon within this new instrument. It follows then that Australia would seek to shape this emerging regime due to its perceived expertise and interest in this area. However, little research exists which highlights how national and international policy may interact on the issue of MPAs. The aim of this research is therefore to critically evaluate Australia’s existing MPA practice and the consequences this may have for the BBNJ negotiations. The overarching question to be resolved is: “What are the implications of Australia’s MPA practice for the BBNJ regime?” This will be addressed by the following sub-questions: “How does Australia’s domestic and international MPA practice interact?” and “What implications does this have for the BBNJ negotiations on MPAs?” To answer these questions, Australia’s historic and ongoing MPA practice, both within national waters and within international fora, such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), will be explored.