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Twice the coral trout in Great Barrier Reef protected zones

30/03/2015

Regulatory Area: Marine Jurisdiction: Australia (Commonwealth)

A 30-year study has confirmed the benefits of no-take fishing zones in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP). The study, by researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University, found that the expansion of the no-take reserves since 2004 has led to a substantial increase in fish stocks and greater resilience to environmental events.

The researchers found that there were approximately 2.5 times more fish within the no-take areas, and that the fish themselves were bigger in size compared to areas where fishing is allowed. Furthermore, the no-take reserves were found to cope better to cyclone damage, and assisted the recovery of fished areas by providing a source of replacement fish larvae. The no-take areas were

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park is currently comprised of a large-scale network of no-take reserves that cover more than 2000km of coast line. The growth of this network, from less than 5% in 2004 to more than 30% today, has been the result of a long term integrated management strategy, involving the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, and Commonwealth and state fisheries agencies.

These findings provide evidence that networks of no-fish zones provide a viable management strategy for conserving marine biodiversity.

For more information:



EPA SA prosecutes for abusive and threatening language

26/03/2015

Regulatory Area: Legal Practice, Investigations Jurisdiction: South Australia

UPDATE: Judgement has now occurred relating to the below prosecution, resulting in Mr Ron Papillo being fined $26,125 (2 April 2015). [END UPDATE]

The Environment Protection Authority South Australia (EPA SA) has successfully prosecuted the director of an earthmoving company, Mr Ron Papillo, after he made threats and used abusive language towards visiting authorised officers.

On three separate occasions in 2013, EPA SA Staff were subject to threats and abusive language when carrying out inspections of contaminated land belonging to Mr Ron Papillo. On one occasion, an EPA Officer recorded the conversation, which was later submitted as evidence. The audio recording, a portion of which can be heard on news.com.au, reveals Mr Papillo swearing and threatening the officers. The recording was taken by EPA SA authorised officers, as allowed by their powers under section 87 of the Environment Protection Act 1993 (SA). The court also heard that Mr Papillo referenced his ownership of firearms, and threatened to "harm" the officers.

EPA SA, through the crown, prosecuted Mr Papillo, who pleaded guilty to all counts of abuse. Judgment is yet to occur.

Read more media coverage on the ABC News website, or at news.com.au.

National Review of Environmental Regulation- Interim report published

26/03/2015

Regulatory Area: Better regulation, strategy Jurisdiction: Australia (Commonwealth)

An interim report for the National Review of Environmental Regulation has been prepared and published by the Department of the Environment (Commonwealth). The report acts as a stock-take of the environmental regulatory reforms currently underway, or recently completed, in all Australian jurisdictions.

It follows a Meeting of Environment Ministers in April 2014, where they agreed to the National Review of Environmental Regulation, which focuses on identifying unworkable, contradictory or incompatible regulation, and ways in which regulations can be simplified and made nationally consistent.

Seven areas were selected for potential reform assessment:

  • Threatened species listing processes;
  • Opportunities for better practice regulation;
  • Biodiversity regulation (including offsets);
  • Chemicals;
  • Integrated waste management;
  • Product stewardship;
  • Heritage listing;
  • Simplification of environmental aspects of land use planning.


The interim report outlines the current environmental regulatory reform effort across jurisdictions and lists issues for further investigation. A summary of each jurisdiction's current activity is detailed in Attachment A of the report.

Stricter measures to regulate African lion imports and exports

16/03/2015

Regulatory Area: Illegal wildlife trade Jurisdiction: Australia (national)

A new measure, introduced by the Australian Government on Friday 13 March 2015, bans people from bringing African lion hunting trophies back into Australia. The stricter measure responds to concerns about ‘canned hunting’ of African lions, where animals are specifically bred and kept in confinement for hunting. It follows wide-spread public criticism and concern sparked when photos emerged showing former Australian Test cricketer Glenn McGrath posing with dead animals on a Zimbabwe hunting safari in 2008.

The technicalities:

The new measure dictates that African lion products are now treated as though they were specifically listed in Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

This move upgrades the status of African lions, who are listed internationally on CITES Appendix 2. Appendix 2 contains species that are not currently classified as threatened with extinction, but which might become threatened if trade is not regulated strictly. Australia regulates CITES-listed species through the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). Under the Act, Appendix 2 specimens can generally be brought into Australia under a CITES export and import permit, or with no permit if it is classified as a ‘personal effect’.

By treating African lion products as though they are listed in Appendix 1, which are animals threatened with extinction, the species is afforded extra protection under the EPBC Act. Trade in Appendix 1 listed species is generally prohibited including great apes, the giant panda, cheetahs, tigers, elephants and many others.

Find out more about CITES classifications here.

Further reading:

  • Read about the new measures, including FAQs, on the Department of Environment website.
  • Official joint media release from the Minister for the Environment and the Federal Member for La Trobe.
  • Media article by the Sydney Morning Herald.
  • Media article by The Guardian.
  • Capital dredge disposal banned in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park

    16/03/2015

    Regulatory Area: Marine Parks Jurisdiction: Australia (Commonwealth)

    The Australian Government has announced a proposal to ban the dumping of dredge spoil within any part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. The proposal will be put into law through the creation of a new regulation by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Regulations 1983.

    The Commonwealth ban, accounting for 99% of the Marine Park, will be supplemented by a Queensland Government ban for the remaining 1% of the area. When combined, they will prevent dredging material from major projects, such as port developments, being dumped anywhere within the 345, 000 square kilometre park area.

    The new regulation will apply to existing permits and all future proposals, and will not include works for critical island infrastructure, such as burying cables and pipelines for telecommunications, electricity or water. Dredging at existing ports for maintenance purposes will also be exempt in the interests of safety.

    The proposal is open for public comment until 5pm on 27 March 2015.

    Next Generation Compliance- momentum is building

    11/03/2015

    Regulatory Area: Better regulation, pollution, advanced monitoring Jurisdiction: International

    The AELERT Secretariat has noticed a recent upsurge of regulator activity, research and publications directly relating to ‘Next Generation Compliance’ and associated issues. As such, we have consolidated an overview and summary of several pieces that we hope will be relevant and will assist AELERT members.

    The main piece is from the United States EPA, with other material referenced from a variety of sources including the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, the Australian Governments Department of Environment, and the American Bar Association.

    The United States Environment Protection Authority recently released a memorandum directing US EPA enforcement staff to “find innovative and effective ways” to use Next Generation Compliance Tools in their civil and administrative enforcement settlements.

    The memorandum follows the release of the US EPA’s Strategic Plan which heralds Next Generation Compliance as "an integrated strategy, designed to bring together the best thinking…on how to structure regulations and permits combined with new monitoring and information technology, expanded transparency, and innovative enforcement".

    Next Generation Compliance tools include the following:

  • Advanced monitoring: This tool encourages regulators to make better use of modern devices that capture, track, analyse and share environmental performance data. For example, using modern, low-cost devices to allow companies and individuals to detect and self-report levels of air pollutants will result in better and more regular data collection. The use of these devices can also allow continuous real-time monitoring of important waterways and improve response times to incidents. Other technology uses remote sensing and imaging data from satellites to monitor environmental compliance.
  • Improved regulatory design: This tool acknowledges that enforcement alone, where a relatively small number of officers police a large number of regulated entities, will not result in the maximum possible level of compliance. Instead it suggests that we should re-design the rules themselves so that compliance is ‘built-in’ to our regulations. This can involve numerous elements, such as the sometimes controversial topic of self-regulation, and how it can be used effectively. Improved regulatory design also specifies the need to implement new governance measures and enforcement programs to better account for how companies and individuals operate in the modern world. For example, manufacturing operations within national companies are increasingly shifting off-shore, often beyond the jurisdiction of national environmental laws. Improved regulatory design is required to deal with these emerging issues.
  • Electronic reporting: This tool highlights the need for regulators to shift away from paper-based systems to electronic reporting and permits. Electronic systems not only increase the speed of service for the user, but also aid in government transparency and data management. Having more robust data helps regulatory agencies to better track compliance and, together with advanced monitoring, will allow them to better identify serious violations. Furthermore, accurate, robust and transparent reporting and monitoring data can be built into enforcement cases, resulting in better civil and criminal resolutions.
  • Further reading

    Special Report on Next Generation Compliance (INECE, 2015) This report discusses the Advanced Technologies used in Next Generation Compliance to capture, track and analyse environmental performance data, including air monitoring devices, earth observation technologies, medical waste tracking and SAR imagery in Aquaculture. The report also outlines Regulatory Design considerations and issues that you may face when implementing new compliance strategies.

    Building next generation regulatory performance: the Regulatory Capability Development Programme (DoE, 2015) This paper summaries the Regulatory Capability Development Programme, developed by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment (DoE). The program aims to provide a higher level of consistency and coordination across the department’s environmental regulatory legislation.

    Memorandum: Use of Next Generation Compliance Tools in Civil Enforcement (US EPA, 2015) This memorandum outlines the Next Gen tools that can be incorporated into settlements including modern technology and public accountability. It also outlines the benefits of using Next Generation Compliance Tools.

    Next Generation Compliance—EPA Strategy to Delegate Enforcement to Third Parties? (Spencer Fane Britt & Browne 2015) This blog, posted by environmental law experts at Spencer Fane Britt & Browne legal practice, critiques the US EPA’s Next Generation Compliance strategy. In particular they question the legal implications of making monitoring data accessible to the public and of the delegation of inspection and investigative functions to the community.

    Next Generation Compliance (American Bar Association, 2013) Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator at the US EPA, submitted this paper to the American Bar Association for their Environmental Forum in 2013. It includes simple descriptions of the major tools involved in Next Generation Compliance, supplemented by useful case-studies to illustrate how each tool can be implemented. The Changing Paradigm of Air Pollution Monitoring (Environmental Science & Technology, 2013) This journal article includes a description and assessment of various advanced air pollution monitoring techniques.

    Finally, AELERT members are encouraged to provide the Secretariat with documents and information that they feel would be of benefit to the broader membership.

    Satellite imagery used to predict global deforestation rates

    02/03/2015

    Regulatory Area: Forestry Jurisdiction: International

    A recent study has used satellite data to estimate current and historical rates of global deforestation. This technique resulted in a higher prediction of deforestation rates compared to the more traditional measurements used by the United Nations (UN). For the 2000-2010 period the UN method, which uses ground based survey data provided by countries themselves, predicted a 25% decrease in deforestation rates. Conversely the satellite imagery method, which analysed over 5000 Landsat images, predicted a 62% increase in deforestation rates for the same period. The study is being heralded by some as a new benchmark for measuring tropical forest clearing. The authors of the paper hope to influence the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) to use remote-sensing data in their future assessments, with the aim of providing more consistent and reliable data to shape global forestry policy.[caption id="attachment_2691" align="alignright" width="300"]Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory images [/caption]

    However the UN FAO has defended their methods, indicating that satellite measurements come with their own inadequacies. For instance satellite imagery does not account for the harvesting of plantations, nor account for tropical dry forests shedding their leaves at certain times of the year.

    Rodney Keenan, a forest science researcher from the University of Melbourne, says that “Both approaches are useful and people need to understand the distinctions and implications of different approaches”.

    Read an article on the topic on the CBS News website, or read the official media release on the American Geophysical Union website.