In response to a range of concerns raised by a number of parties about the 40 new Commonwealth marine reserves (CMRs) established in 2012, the Australian Government initiated a review of the design and management of these reserves. Key concerns were the adequacy of consultation and the scientific evidence underpinning the establishment of the reserves. The Expert Scientific Panel (ESP) was subsequently appointed to review the science of reserve design and advise the Government on how to strengthen the science underpinning reserve management into the future. In parallel, the Bioregional Advisory Panel (BAP) was appointed to conduct a broad consultation process to ensure all affected stakeholders had the opportunity to put forward their views and to advise on possible alternative reserve design within the CMR outer boundaries and options for reserve management. The BAP used advice from the ESP to assist in this task.
The ESP’s findings to assist the work of the BAP and its recommendations to the Australian Government have been informed by an extensive literature review, evidence presented through the BAP public submission and stakeholder survey processes, and direct consultation with marine scientists from a range of organisations around Australia and marine reserve managers.
The ESP’s review of the science and associated findings and recommendations fell into three broad areas, which are reflected in this summary and in the content of this report.