Marine Pollution in Australia


The ocean plays a significant role in the economic and social lives of people in Australia. It serves as a major transportation network, a favorite recreational area, and a source of food for millions of Australians. The coastal environment serves as a habitat for numerous flora and fauna species.

It also plays a significant role by providing numerous cultural and recreational benefits to the people living in the coastal area. However, the increase in human activities has led to the intensive degradation of the marine environment over the decades.

Pollution has occurred from two significant venues. On one side, land-based activities such as agriculture, deforestation, urbanization, and industrial development have contributed to the pollution of the marine environment. On the other side, the large traffic of ships that operate in Australian waters has contributed to the degradation of the country’s expansive marine jurisdiction.

Intensive pollution is detrimental to the sustainable use and development of the country’s marine resources. In recognition of this fact, the Australian government has taken measures to protect the marine environment from rampant pollution from various sources.

This paper will set out to engage in a detailed discussion about marine pollution in Australia. It will begin by highlighting the major sources of marine pollution and the impact that this pollution has on the marine environment. It will then discuss the various routes that Australia has taken to prevent marine pollution, including the significant conventions that Australia has joined to prevent marine pollution.

Australia’s Marine Domain

Australia is a large island nation surrounded by the Southern Ocean, Indian Ocean, Pacific Ocean, and the Timor Sea. While the country is a vast and dry continent, the ocean plays an important part in the national identity and culture of Australians.

Australia has the third-largest ocean jurisdiction, with its marine jurisdiction totaling 11 million square kilometers.[1] In addition to this, the country has over 5million square kilometers of the continental shelf. Australia has a long coastline considering the fact that the country has no land boundaries. This expansive coastline stretches about 61,700 kilometers.[2] The beaches and coastal seas are home to many varieties of marine flora and fauna.

As a result of these vast marine resources, Australia has great interests in its marine environment. Australia’s marine jurisdiction supports a range of industries, which generate considerable income for the Nation. A report by the Australian Government’s Oceans Policy Science Advisory Group reveals that the ocean contributes an impressive $44 billion each year to the Nation’s economy.[3]

This economic contribution of the marine environment is projected to rise to $100 billion by the year 2025 as industrial expansion occurs, and more ways to exploit the marine for energy and food are devised.

The economic impact of the marine environment is therefore significant since this represents 4% of the country’s GDP. Most of the large cities in the country are situated on the coast, and over 80% of the country’s population live within 50 kilometers of the coast.[4]

Compared to other marine environments around the world, Australia has a relatively clean image. Its beaches are considered clean, and some are in pristine condition. There are many safety standards put in place to ensure that the country’s marine environment is protected and used in a sustainable manner.[5]

However, in spite of this good image, Australia’s marine environment faces a serious threat from pollution. There are a number of notable sources of pollution in Australia’s marine environment.

Marine Pollution in Australia

Pollution presents the greatest danger to the sustainable growth and development of the Earth’s ecosystem. Marine Pollution is defined by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as “the introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances into the marine environment, including estuaries, which results or is likely to result in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources and marine life.”[6]

An important point from this definition is that pollution is restricted to activities perpetrated by man. As such, the introduction of harmful products into the marine environment through natural causes is not regarded as pollution. There are a number of prominent causes of pollution in Australia’s marine environment.

Land-Based Pollution

Land pollution has a significant impact on Australia’s marine environment. Studies show that land pollution is the primary source of pollution to seas and oceans since about 80% of marine pollution originates from the land.[7] Land pollution contributes to marine pollution in a number of specific ways. Human activities such as intensive deforestation and the use of farm implements can be detrimental to marine life.

Poor land-use practices and construction activities have led to an increase in soil erosion. This has heightened the level of sediment reaching the Australian marine from rivers flowing through the country and surface runoff during storms.

In the Western Port area of Victoria, the aggressive removal of mangroves to reclaim land for farming has led to high sedimentation. The herbicides and pesticides used in the farms have been transported to the coastal region leading to pollution. Research indicates that this pollution has resulted in a loss of up to 70% of the seagrass in Western Port over a period of 3 decades.[8]

Rapid urbanization in coastal areas also increases the level of land pollution. High population concentration presents a significant problem for waste management. Research indicates that there is a strong correlation between high population densities and pollution of the sea.[9] Most of the pollution originates from the lack of effective waste management programs.

The great volume of wastewater produced often overwhelms the available treatment plants. While all sewage plants are required to treat the waste before releasing it as discharge waste into the environment, the level of treatment varies.[10] The discharged wastewater has a negative effect when it is released into enclosed marine environments.

Untreated or insufficiently treated wastewater can, therefore, leak into the marine environment. This has been the case in Australia, where urban expansion has contributed to the increased marine pollution in Australia. A study by Dunn reveals that The Gold Coast city located in southern Moreton Bay in southeast Queensland is suffering from increased pollution due to the large-scale urban expansion experienced in the area over the last two decades.[11]

Pollution on the land also contributes to marine pollution through atmospheric pollution of the sea. Significant damage caused by atmospheric pollution is acid rain. This rain is caused primarily by sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are used prevalently in industries, power plants, and to fuel vehicles in Australia. This polluted air is absorbed into the rainwater, which falls on the sea surface and enters into the water column. The acid rain that results from this is harmful to the marine environment.

Acid rain has led to increased ocean acidification, and this has been a major threat to marine ecosystems.[12] Acidification can render water bodies uninhabitable and even kill biodiversity in areas where the acid concentration is high.

Ballast Pollution

Australia’s marine environment is also prone to pollution from the ballast, which is the water taken by empty ships to assist them in maintaining stability. This water will contain the microorganisms found in the environment from which the water is drawn. The ballast water problem is caused by the fact that Australia is a major exporter of bulk cargoes.

As such, many ships arrive in their ports in ballast and need to discharge large quantities of ballast water in order to load the cargo. Since Australia has many busy ports that serve ships from all over the world, ships containing ballast from a foreign environment frequent Australian waters.

If this water is discharged into Australian waters indiscriminately, it might pollute the marine environment by releasing organisms and pathogens from foreign marine environments.

Studies reveal that some Australian ports have had their marine organisms severely affected by the foreign species introduced into the port waters from the discharging of ballast water from ships.[13] Ballast water can lead to the introduction of pests into the marine environment. The foreign water discharged into Australian waters might contain pests leading to an incursion of these pests into the country’s marine life.

Antifouling Paint

Significant pollution is also introduced into the marine environment through antifouling paints. As has been noted, many national and international vessels traverse Australian waters each day. As the ships travel, they are exposed to the seawater and its constituent organisms.

Without proper protection, the ship’s bottom is exposed to organisms that attach themselves to the ship and greatly reduce its performance and durability. Antifouling paints are used to cover the ship’s hull and therefore protect it from being covered by organisms such as algae and barnacles.[14]

While these paints are effective in their purpose, most of them have toxic metallic compounds as part of their component. These metallic compounds are released into the seawater as the ship travels or as it is docked at various ports. The toxic metal compounds are harmful to a variety of marine life, including fish, mammals, and coral.

Oil Pollution

Another important source of marine pollution in Australia is oil. While oil is not the most prevalent pollutant to Australian waters, oil pollution is given special consideration since the toxins introduced into the marine environment from large oil spills cause the most damage to the marine environment.[15]

Oil presents a major problem since, in the event of large-scale oil pollution, there will be major damage to the marine environment. Oil spills that happen well out to sea have very little environmental damage since oil is a natural substance, and when spilled into the water, it breaks down into its natural constituents over time through the process of bioremediation.

Oil spills are most damaging when they occur in restricted waters or near the shore, where the oil can be moved by the waves onto the beaches.

The focus on oil pollution in Australia was brought about by the Kirki incident in 1991. In this incident, the 97,000-tonne Greek-owned tanker Kirki encountered heavy weather on its way to an oil refinery in Western Australia.[16]

This heavy sea caused part of its bow to break off and sink. As a result of this accident, 16,000 tonnes of oil cargo spilled, but the salvors were able to prevent the ship from sinking, thereby reducing the impact of the damage.

While the large-scale oil spills might cause major environmental pollution, the minor spills and operational discharges that occur every day also pollute the marine environment in Australia. It is estimated that these minor spills, which occur during regular refueling and the operational discharges that occur as the vessels move within Australian waters, release up to 16,000 tonnes of oil into the marine environment.[17]

Waste From Ships

A wide variety of sea vessels sail in Australian waters. These vessels include merchant ships that carry Australia’s trade, which is vital to the country’s economy. These vessels include cargo ships carrying import and product goods and huge tankers that carry petroleum products into Australia. The second category of vessels is the cruise liners that transport tourists.

These tourist’s vessels contribute significantly to the multi-billion dollar tourism industry in Australia. The number of tourist’s vessels plying Australian waters is increasing due to the increase in the number of annual visitors to Australia.

The other major category of vessels found in the vast Australian marine domain is fishing vessels. Fishing supplies essential food products for the domestic and international markets. The fishing vessels act as the supplies to the major seafood industry in Australia. Some of the products are for domestic consumption while the surplus is put into the export markets.

Resource Exploitation

Pollution also occurs as Australia exploits the vast amount of natural resources found in its marine environment. The vast oceans provide numerous fishing grounds that can be exploited for food. There are also mineral and petroleum resources within Australia’s marine jurisdiction. There has been an increasing emphasis on offshore oil exploration in Australia’s vast marine jurisdiction.

At present, there are multiple gas exploration and extraction projects underway in various parts of Australia’s marine environment. In addition to this, the coastal regions are being exploited to build recreational facilities for tourists. Hotels are built at ocean fronts where land is reclaimed by refilling it with material that might be contaminated.

Impacts of Pollution

The effects of marine pollution are generally detrimental to the marine ecosystem. Marine pollution contributes to the death and contamination of fishing stocks in Australian waters. When the ocean is polluted by ships through oil spills or disposal of harmful waste, the fish in the contaminated waters might die.

The waste entering into the ocean has led to an increase in the incidents of fatal choking, poisoning, and entanglement of Australian marine life. Research demonstrates that a rising number of sea life deaths can be attributed to ocean pollution by human activities[18]. This problem leads to a reduction in the population of some species as they die out in large numbers due to ocean pollution.

Marine pollution also poses a potential problem for human health. As has been noted, Marine life is a major source of food resources for human beings. Due to high levels of pollution, there is a high probability that toxins will enter into the food chain as marine creatures consume polluted material.[19]

For example, the industrial activity in the coastal areas and port facilities, mineral contaminants such as zinc, mercury, and lead have been discharged into the water over the decades. This contamination has led to an increase in the level of metals in sea creatures such as shellfish and oysters.

The input of hazardous heavy metals affects not only the marine ecosystem but also human beings who consume seafood. Research indicates that in some parts of Australia, the heavy metal concentration in shellfish and mussels is above what is safe for human consumption.

Marine pollution is responsible for the significant damage caused to Australia’s expansive coral reef. Damage to the coral reef poses a great danger to the sustainability of marine life. To begin with, coral reefs provide food for a diverse number of marine creatures. Coral reefs provide a buffering effect to the shore by shielding it from the storms and surge waters from the ocean.[20]

This makes it possible for planktons and seagrass to grow and flourish. Without the reefs, most of these primary foods would be eroded by large waves leaving the fish and other marine life without their primary source of food.[21]

The reefs also help to maintain balance among the marine ecosystem by supporting a wide range of flora and fauna. In addition to this, the coral reefs play a part in enhancing the quality of the ocean and seawater. This is achieved through the filtration capability of coral reefs. Due to the impact that coral reefs have on the marine ecosystem, some researchers refer to this feature as “the marine equivalent of tropical rainforests.”[22]

Land pollution has contributed significantly to the decline in water quality in Australia’s marine environment. The impact of land pollution is often felt by the coastal seas, which are closer to the landmass, while the deepwater oceans do not feel the pressure from this pollution. Once pollutants from the land get to the marine environment, some are absorbed by marine life while others accumulate at the coast or on the ocean floor.

Pollutants such as fertilizers and pesticides have introduced toxic substances into the water. The increased sediment loads caused by the rampant destruction of vegetation cover have further decreased water quality.[23] In turn, poor water quality has adversely affected the marine ecosystem. It has led to the destruction of corals and a loss of seagrass.

Preventing Marine Pollution

Pollution has a direct negative effect on marine life in the Australian oceans. The government recognizes the importance of the marine environment to Australia’s continued prosperity. For this reason, the Australian government has shown great determination to manage its ocean space through a number of ocean policies.

Due to its recognition that ocean ecosystem health and integrity are fundamental to ecologically sustainable development and the continued economic benefits of the oceans, Australia was the first Nation to attempt the development and implementation of an integrated oceans policy in the years 1998.[24]

The most significant policy developed to address the issues affecting Australia’s marine environment is Australia’s Oceans Policy (AOP) of December 1998. Australia has a large number of policies and laws designed to assist in the management of the country’s vast ocean domain. The AOP was an attempt to integrate the sectoral interests and jurisdictional interests of the State governments and the Australian Commonwealth government.[25]

This document, which is regarded nationally and internationally as a milestone in marine resource management, set out to establish a comprehensive approach to the management of Australia’s ocean domain. A key objective of the AOP was to protect Australia’s marine biological diversity by ensuring that the ocean resources were used in a sustainable manner and protected from pollution.

Over the first three years of the policy’s implementation, the government was supposed to provide funding to implement initiatives to deter marine pollution and raise marine and estuarine water quality standards. Australian authorities agree that the marine environment is suffering from significant stress due to the pollution from the different sources identified.

Land-Based Pollution

Any solution to marine solution must address the problem of land-based sources of pollution, considering that these are the primary source of pollution to seas and oceans.

Eighty percent of marine pollution originates from the land, making it an important area to focus on in order to mitigate marine pollution.[26] Without implementing policies that address marine pollution that originates on land, it will be impossible to minimize ocean pollution currently experienced by Australia.

Australia is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), meaning that the country is bound to observe the obligations of individual nations stipulated by this convention. A major obligation imposed by UNCLOS is that the states should adopt laws that regulate or prevent pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources.

In addition to being a party to the UNCLOS, Australia is a signatory to the non-binding “Global Programme of Action of the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-based Activities” (GPA).[27] In fulfillment of its obligations as a member of this agreement, Australia has implemented a number of marine protection programs.

The most significant international regime for addressing land-based sources of marine pollution is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.[28] This global treaty stipulates rules and standards that should be followed to prevent or mitigate land pollution.

It also offers recommended practices which, when adopted, will result in reduced marine pollution from land-based sources. The Australian government prohibits vessels from carrying waste from the land with the intention of dumping it into the ocean.

Ballast Management

To prevent pollution from the ballast, the Australian State authorities have engaged in a number of steps. To begin with, Australia is a signatory to the “International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments.”[29]

This convention aims at ensuring that each country’s marine environment is protected from cross-contamination from foreign environments. The harbormasters at various ports in Australia avoid unnecessary discharge of ballast water from foreign vessels, and if it is to be discharged, the activity takes place at designated facilities.

The Australian marine authorities have specified standards that ballast from foreign seas must mean in order to be considered clean. Only then can a ship be allowed to discharge its ballast into Australian waters. If a ship discharges ballast that does not meet the standards imposed by the Australian Quarantine Inspection Services, then the ship is penalized heavily.

Australia also has a government-sanctioned inspection and quarantine body known as the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS). This body has guidelines and measures to manage ballast water, and all vessels entering into Australian waters must meet the standards set by AQIS.[30]

If upon inspection by AQIS, a vessel is considered high risk, it is required to discharge its entire ballast load while at high sea. The low-risk vessels are allowed to discharge their ballast at designated ports within Australian coastal water.

Antifouling Paint Pollution

Australia has enacted laws to reduce the level of pollution caused by antifouling paint applied to vessels that enter into Australian waters.

In some states such as Western Australia, antifouling paint is banned for small vessels (less than 25 meters), and for large vessels, the quality of the paint is greatly restricted to ensure that it meets regulations that ensure minimal harmful compounds are released into the sea.

Australia is a signatory to the “International Convention on the Control of Harmful Anti-fouling Systems on Ships 2001”. This means that the various States and Territories enforce strict laws to ensure that antifouling paint is not used by Australian ships or when it is used, it meets the standards specified in the regulations.[31]

Waste Disposal

Australia has bound itself to the London Protocol of 1996, which includes the “Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping.” Under this convention, the government is supposed to take proactive action to limit the dumping of waste in its territorial waters.[32]

In accordance with the obligations stipulated by this convention, Australia, through the Federal Ministry of Environment, imposes great control over waste disposal in its waters. Vessels are required to obtain permits from the Environment Ministry for permission to dump waste into Australian waters. Even with the permit, the list of substances that can lawfully be disposed of at sea is greatly restricted.

These substances include fish waste, organic waste obtained from natural sources, material dug up from the sea, and sewage sludge. The permit specifies that the waste substances should be discharged into the ocean in a regulated manner.

The vessel is required to discharge the permitted waste gradually and in diluted form and several miles away from the coastline to reduce the risk of the waste making its way onto the beaches.[33] The state is required to prosecute any vessel that dumps waste within its waters.

The UNCLOS has important implications for how marine pollution by ships is dealt with. This convention introduced the extended offshore zonal system, which stipulates which government authorities have power in various regions in the sea.[34] Under the zonal system, the rights and obligations of the coastal state decrease as the distance offshore increases.

While the coastal state may impose its own laws in the territorial sea, only general laws on protection against marine pollution apply in the contiguous and the exclusive economic zones. The UNCLOS empowers port states to prosecute for pollution damages any vessel found guilty of polluting within the territorial sea or the EEZ of the state.[35]

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority exercises a lot of discretion when it comes to dealing with ship pollution incidents. The coastal authorities are empowered to take whatever steps they deem appropriate to prevent ships from polluting Australia’s marine environment.[36]

If a vessel navigating in the territorial sea is suspected of polluting, the coastal state enforcement officers have the right to approach the vessel and carry out a physical inspection to ascertain the truth of this suspicion. If there is clear proof of pollution, the vessel can be detained to prevent any major damage to the environment.

Oil Related Marine Pollution

The Environmental Defender’s Office of Western Australia acknowledges that most of the pollution-related legislation enacted by the Australian government is aimed at preventing oil spillage within the country’s vast marine domain. A significant authority created to tackle ocean pollution is the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).[37]

This authority was created in 1990 under the Australian Maritime Safety Act by the Australian federal government, and it continues to play a crucial role in the protection of the sea. The AMSA is a powerful body, and it ensures the safety of vessels within Australian waters.

This powerful body has programs in place to prevent pollution by oil and respond to any oil spills. In the event of an oil spill incident in Australian waters, the vessel involved in the incident is required to report immediately to the AMSA so that the appropriate damage control measures can be undertaken.

In response to the specific threat that oil spills place on the Marine Environment, the Australian government requires oil tankers to be ready to play an active role in covering the pollution damages of oil spills. Huge oil tankers (those with a capacity of 400 tonnes and above) are required to have a pollution emergency plan in place, and the crew should be well versed with emergency procedures to limit oil pollution into the sea.[38]

Due to the efforts of the AMSA, the total number of oil spills experienced in Australia has been decreasing for many years, and when spills occur, the damage control measures are effective and efficient therefore ensuring that the marine environment is not adversely affected from these incidents.

Australia has an Oil Pollution Compensation Fund that is made up of the annual contributions of all the major oil companies in the country. This fund is not an insurance cover, and the oil industry contributes to it so that any oil vessel can recover some of the losses and damages accrued because of an oil spill.

The compensation scheme in place is supposed to cover the cleanup costs and to compensate those who suffer loss or damages in the event of a major oil spill. In addition to its national Fund, Australia ratified the International Fund for Compensation for Oil Pollution Damage (IOPC) Fund in 1996.[39]

This international fund convention requires member countries to pass legislation that obligates the oil companies operating in the country to report to the IOPC and pay a mandatory levy to the IOPC Fund in London. This fund pays for the damages and for oil spill cleanup costs in the event of an oil spill in any of the participating countries.

An important consideration with the compensation fund is that the costs fall on the oil companies and not the owners of the tankers involved in the accident.[40] In addition to this, this is a mutual fund into which all the major oil companies pay rather than from an insurer.

Mitigating or preventing the frequency of small oil spills in Australia’s marine environment will lead to a marked reduction in marine pollution. As has been observed, a significant amount of oil pollution occurs from small oil spills during operational discharges and refueling of vessels.

Enormous benefits to the marine environment can, therefore, be accrued by taking steps to reduce these minor oil spills, which are often ignored as the main focus remains on the large oil spills. The minor oil spills can be prevented by imposing high marine safety standards for all vessels on Australian waters.[41]

With strict standards in place, ship operators will take proactive measures to ensure that the accidental oil spills that frequently occur as oil carriers are loaded or as they discharge their oil at the destination port are avoided. If these high marine safety standards are maintained, the level of pollution caused by minor spills will be lower, thereby mitigating pollution to the marine environment.

Disaster Management

Australia encourages salvage operators to engage in salvage operations that prevent or minimize damage to the environment by attaching a fixed reward or special compensation to such operations. In the event of an oil spill, salvage operations are crucial to the minimization of damage to the environment.

Salvors, who are the professionals who engage in salvage operations, are best equipped and skilled to deal with marine disasters and reduce the environmental damage that might be caused by damaged vessels. Traditionally, salvors operated under the salvage rule of ‘no cure – no pay.’

This meant that they had to salvage something of worth so that they could be paid for their efforts. However, this old rule did not favor the marine environment since, in most instances, salvors had no incentives to risk their equipment and spend their resources salvaging when there was little prospect of saving the ship or other worthy property.

Australia is a signatory to the Salvage Convention 1989, which recognizes the role that salvage operations play in the protection and preservation of the marine environment.[42] It offers financial incentives for salvors to utilize their equipment on marine accidents were prospects of salvaging the ship are low.

This is done by structuring salvage remuneration such that payment is made for success in preventing or minimizing damage to the environment. To further incentivize salvage operators to take part in operations that protect the marine environment, Australia offers special compensation to the salvors when their salvage operations prevent or minimize damage to the environment.

Australia has strategies in place to deal with the pollution that occurs outside its territorial sea but might affect its marine life. For example, if an oil tanker is to run aground on the High Seas, the ocean currents might move the oil to the Australian shores leading to environmental damages.

As a party to the 1973 Intervention Protocol passed by the IMO and ratified by Australia in November 1983, Australia is empowered to intervene when a ship outside its jurisdiction is releasing pollutants into the high Seas.[43]

Other Pollution Prevention Efforts

In addition to the measures taken to prevent and mitigate pollution of the Australian marine environment, the country is also active in conducting research programs to measure pollution of the seas. This is in accordance with section 2 of the UNCLOS part XII, which requires cooperation on a global and regional basis to monitor and deter pollution.[44]

By engaging in research, Australia is able to establish scientific criteria and provide a baseline for the level of pollution at a given time. With this baseline, it is possible to compare results and establish the changes that have occurred over time. This comparison is crucial since it helps to determine if the particular mitigation efforts put in place are effective in reducing the level of pollution.[45]

Australia takes into consideration the environmental impacts of exploiting the natural resources available in its marine jurisdiction. This is in accordance with the regulations of the UNCLOS, which stipulates that nations have a right to natural resources in their marine jurisdictions but only subject to protecting and preserving the marine environment.


Australia has the will and the resources to implement and enforce the provisions of the many marine environments related conventions; it is a party to. The different State and tribal authorities are responsible for protecting coastal and marine waters from all forms of pollution.

Through the efforts of these respective authorities, the country has achieved remarkable outcomes in terms of ocean safety and pollution reduction. Australia has gained a reputation for taking its obligations under the various conventions seriously. The country takes many measures to ensure that all activities that cause damage to the marine are prevented or minimized.

Due to the vastness of Australia’s marine environment and the use of the federal system of government, there is no one authority with absolute authority over the entire marine environment of the country. However, this has not prevented Australia from coming up with a cohesive system for dealing with pollution.

By utilizing the various conventions available, Australia has been able to mitigate pollution and enhance the safety of its waters. Even so, these efforts have been challenged by increasing pollution due to rapid urbanization and the growing ship traffic on Australian waters. The various governments will need to enforce the various laws for deterring pollution more aggressively in order to achieve the desired results of a pollution-free marine environment.


This paper set out to discuss marine pollution and highlight the various routes that Australia has taken to prevent pollution to its vast marine domain. The paper began by elaborating on the economic, social, and cultural significance of Australia’s marine environment to the Nation.

It demonstrated that the national interests of the country are deeply connected to its enormous marine resources. The paper then discussed the major sources of pollution in Australia’s marine environment. It then proceeded to articulate the measures taken to mitigate or prevent pollution.

The paper has given a detailed discussion of the various strategies adopted by the Australian authorities to reduce and control marine pollution and hence, ensure the sustainability of the country’s vast marine environment. It was noted that Australia is a signatory to many major international conventions that relate to the regulation and protection of the marine environment.

The paper has demonstrated that most of the conventions that Australia has ratified the deal with oil pollution. This emphasis on oil pollution arises from the fact that major oil spills can cause monumental damages to the marine environment.

However, the paper has noted that there are other important sources of pollution that should be given more attention in order to mitigate marine pollution. By observing the various requirements stipulated by the conventions that Australia is a party to, the country will be able to prevent or reduce marine pollution.


[1] Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council (NRC), Australia’s National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities, Canberra, Department of the Environment and Heritage Community Information Unit, 2006, p.1.

[2] ibid., p. 2.

[3] OPSAG, Marine Nation 2025, 2013.

[4] ibid., p. 1.

[5] Environmental Defender’s Office of Western Australia (EDOWA), Marine Pollution, Perth, Environmental Defender’s Office, 2010, p.1

[6] M. White., Australasian Marine Pollution Laws, Canberra, Federation Press, 2007, p.9.

[7] D. Hassan. Protecting the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution: Towards Effective International Cooperation. Melbourne, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. p.54.

[8] NRMMC., op. cit., p.5.

[9] M. White., op. cit., p. 11.

[10] R. Dunn, ‘Short-Term Variability of Nutrients and Fecal Indicator Bacteria within the Gold Coast Seaway, Southern Moreton Bay (Australia),’ Journal of Coastal Research, vol. 28. No. 1, 2012, p. 81.

[11] ibid., op. cit., p. 82.

[12] D. Hassan., op. cit., p.54.

[13] E. Franckx., Vessel-Source Pollution and Coastal State Jurisdiction: The Work of the Ila Committee on Coastal State Jurisdiction Relating to Marine Pollution (1991-2000), Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2001, p.154.

[14] Ibid., p.155.

[15] United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)., Global Environment Outlook 3: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives, London, Earthscan, 2002., 154.

[16] M. White., op. cit., p.8.

[17] OPSAG, op. cit., p.4.

[18] L. Parker. ‘Oceans of Rubbish.’ Australian Geographic, vol. 14. no. 101, 2011, p. 114.

[19] D. Hassan., op. cit., p.31.

[20] M. Creary., ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Coral Reefs and the Marine Environment,’ UN Chronicle, vol. 50. No. 1, 2013, p. 27.

[21] ibid., p. 25.

[22] A. Dua and D. Esty., Sustaining the Asia Pacific Miracle: Environmental Protection and Economic Integration, NJ, Peterson Institute, 2007, p.44.

[23] NRMMC., op. cit., p.7.

[24] M. Tsamenyi and R. Kenchington, ‘Australian Oceans Policymaking,’ Coastal Management, vol. 40, no. 1, 2012, p. 119.

[25] E. Franckx., op. cit.. 157.

[26] D. Hassan. Protecting the Marine Environment from Land-based Sources of Pollution: Towards Effective International Cooperation. Melbourne, Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2006. p.54.

[27] Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council. Australia’s National Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities. Canberra, Department of the Environment and Heritage Community Information Unit, 2006, p.1.

[28] UNEP., op. cit., p.42.

[29] OPSAG., op. cit., p.11.

[30] ibid., p.12.

[31] NRMMC, op. cit., p.3.

[32] EDOWA., op. cit., p.3.

[33] ibid., p.5.

[34] M. White., op. cit., p.29.

[35] ibid., p.30.

[36] Ibid., p.33.

[37] E. Franckx, op. cit., p.157.

[38] UNEP, op. cit., p.143.

[39] E. Franckx, op. cit., p.156.

[40] ibid., p. 156.

[41] NRMMC, op. cit., p.6.

[42] M. White., op. cit., p.167.

[43] E. Franckx., op. cit., p.154.

[44] M. Tsamenyi, and R. Kenchington., op. cit.. 121.

[45] ibid., p.122.


Creary, M. ‘Impacts of Climate Change on Coral Reefs and the Marine Environment’. UN Chronicle, vol. 50. no. 1, 2013, pp. 24-27.

Dua, A. and Esty, D., Sustaining the Asia Pacific Miracle: Environmental Protection and Economic Integration, NJ, Peterson Institute, 2007.

Dunn, R. ‘Short-Term Variability of Nutrients and Fecal Indicator Bacteria within the Gold Coast Seaway, Southern Moreton Bay (Australia)’, Journal of Coastal Research, vol. 28. no. 1, 2012, pp. 80-88.

Environmental Defender’s Office of Western Australia (EDOWA), Marine Pollution, Perth, Environmental Defender’s Office, 2010.

Franckx, E., Vessel-Source Pollution and Coastal State Jurisdiction: The Work of the Ila Committee on Coastal State Jurisdiction Relating to Marine Pollution (1991-2000), Leiden, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2001.

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