Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Law


The effectiveness of marine park management in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, in achieving conservation and ecological sustainable use objectives was examined using three key determinants: 1) assessment of allowable activities put in practice to meet marine park and zoning objectives; 2) assessment of the effectiveness of marine park integration with fisheries management; and, 3) effectiveness of compliance to ensure that legislated plans and management strategies were enforced. The selection and planning of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in NSW was found to be consistent with international and national guidelines, and key commitments set at international, national and state levels of government had been fully or partially met. A quantitative gap analysis on ecosystem and habitat representation demonstrated that NSW was well advanced and in a strong position to achieve current 2020 Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) MPA targets. A qualitative risk assessment of permitted activities in relation to zoning objectives indicated considerable variation between NSW MPAs, but more concerning was that multiple use zones might not be achieving their stated objectives, with several allowable activities being inconsistent with zoning objectives. Performance indicators to evaluate effectiveness of integration between MPA and fisheries management activities were developed and indicated that positive impacts had resulted from this partnership for the NSW case study. It was concluded that the partnership process could have been improved through formal arrangements being developed and with particular attention being given to community and stakeholder communication and engagement. Empirical evidence suggested that adopting manageability criteria for compliance during the design and planning of MPAs could lead to a marked increase in voluntary compliance. It was demonstrated that the majority of zones in the Port Stephens - Great Lakes Marine Park were relatively effective in optimizing voluntary compliance. Analyses of compliance data from 2007-2013 indicated encouraging trends in compliance in NSW marine parks, with the MPA offence rate declining over this period, with the exception of the Jervis Bay Marine Park. Despite evidence that offenders were deterred from repeating offending, general deterrence for first time offenders remained an issue in all NSW marine parks. The current level of non-compliance is concluded to not being conducive in achieving anticipated conservation objectives of the marine park system. Overall, this study has provided solid guidance for future improvements in marine park management, in particular providing recommendations for improved zoning design, more effective compliance and improving integration between MPA and fisheries management.