Key findings

Coasts are a zone of concentrated biodiversity and productivity

Our coasts are under pressure

Climate change, particularly sea level rise, will have profound impacts on our coasts

Consistent and coordinated management approaches, involving Traditional Custodians, are needed to protect our coasts

  • There is a general absence of national coastal management in Australia. Management is currently fragmented across all levels of government – mainly implemented by local councils with some guidance from the states. There are ongoing calls for more consistent and coordinated approaches to coastal management across all levels of government.
  • Australia has a large network of coastal marine protected areas; however, the levels and effectiveness of protection are inadequate.
  • Indigenous leadership is often omitted from national science planning and may continue to be missing without a national Indigenous scientific body. The absence of a national Indigenous peak body that can actively contribute to high-level plans creates a serious and significant gap. The peak body should be built on state and regional frameworks already in place, given some regions already have well-developed processes in place.
  • The recognition of Indigenous knowledge, and the frameworks and methodologies associated with Indigenous ontologies enables wider restoration, conservation and resource management, and increased empowerment for communities; this is in line with many international frameworks (e.g. United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
  • Building environmental management with cultural integrity needs long-term commitment in shared decision-making and relationship building with Traditional Custodians. Acknowledging, investing in and embracing co-design and co-management will help to remove hierarchies, address power imbalances, and set up relationships and partnerships for managing and regulating the environment and caring for Country.