Sharing assets & responsibility for better field management

Published: 25 October 2016
Last edited: 20 January 2017
An obvious preference of most MPA managers is to have a fleet of reliable, safe, fit for-purpose vessels, which are well maintained and operational. However, sometimes vessel patrols or some marine management tasks are more appropriately shared (e.g. with other governmental agencies or by chartering a vessel from the private sector). The operation and ongoing maintenance of specialised management vessels can pose significant challenges, especially if there are insufficient staff in the agency with the necessary technical capacity, or if the operating funds for ongoing regular operations are limited. Determining whether to purchase expensive assets (e.g. specialised fast patrol vessels for enforcement or a stable working vessel to install facilities such as moorings or no-anchoring markers) should consider the objective of providing the required level of service and its frequency of likely use in the most cost-effective manner. MPA management may also be enhanced by sharing responsibility and information as explained in the Blue Solution on Shared Governance in the GBR. Management may also involve sharing other physical assets than just boats; e.g. shared assets may include operational bases, offices, vehicles and even aircraft.


Co-management building
Enforcement and prosecution
Alliance and partnership development
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

The Great Barrier Reef Intergovernmental Agreement provides the framework for the federal and State (Queensland) governments to work together for the long-term management of the GBR. GBR staff develop an Annual Business Plan to allocate a budget for purchasing and operating assets; that plan then becomes the first year in a Three Year Rolling Program Plan which is reviewed and updated each year to project expected costs over the next 3 years.

Lessons learned

• Experience shows before purchasing a major asset like a specialised vessel there is a need to assess the staff’s capacity to handle the asset throughout its ‘whole life cycle’ (this includes more than just operating the vessel, and should extend from the design, construction and commissioning of the vessel, to its operation, maintenance and modification, and ultimately its replacement/decommissioning). • If your MPA requires specialized equipment like an expensive patrol vessel, consider asking your management partners to share resources (e.g. ‘cross-decking’ ie. having staff from multiple agencies operating together on the one patrol vessel or sharing vessels between agencies). • A prioritised asset replacement schedule is part of a regularly reviewed business strategy (e.g. outboards replaced every 4-5 years; larger vessels replaced every 10-15 years). • Access to big vessels, planes/helicopters is nice, but such resources are not essential for an effective compliance program.