SDG 14 - Life Below Water

SDG 14 - Life Below Water

Below are all Australian news items from all ESG Snapshot issues that are relevant to SDG 14 (life below water), listed with most recent items appearing first.

Issue 32, 19 February 2024

GeoNadir and the Terrestrial Ecosystem Research Network (TERN) have completed a project to make all TERN's current and future Australian drone-mapping data available on the GeoNadir global map.

TERN is Australia's national ecosystem observatory and has over 1,000 sites around Australia where drones are used to capture changes in vegetation and landscape characteristics. GeoNadir is a data repository allowing users to search, access, visualise, analyse, and share drone data.

"TERN is leading the way here for ensuring that drone Earth observation data collected using public funds are disseminated widely," said GeoNadir co-founder Dr Karen Joyce. 

The federal government has awarded a total of $8 million to projects delivering innovative solutions for lower-cost biodiversity monitoring. Grant recipients include CSIRO and WWF.

Grant opportunity - Reef water quality and natural capital. The state government is offering a total of $5.5 million for projects aimed at improving water quality in reef catchments.

Individual grants of up to $2.5 million, or possibly more, will be considered. Applications close on 30 April.

An additional notional allocation of up to $750,000 is potentially available for applications that demonstrate a capacity to undertake natural capital projects.

Grant guidelines define natural capital projects as those that use carbon and environmental markets, or such things as impact funds or natural capital accounting, to help connect private capital to the restoration or protection of natural assets.

Issue 31, 12 February 2024

New consultation - Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan. The federal and Queensland governments are seeking survey responses by 16 February.

New consultation - Murray Darling Basin. Comments are invited by 4 March on the draft framework for delivering the 450GL of additional environmental water.

Statutory development - seabed mining ban. The state government has introduced an Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Sea Bed Mining and Exploration) Bill, which would ban offshore mineral and petroleum mining, as well as associated activities, in the state's coastal waters.

Issue 30, 5 February 2024

Melbourne Water has lodged an EPBC referral for a proposal to add six hectares of constructed wetland to an existing wetland to compensate for the loss of habitat arising from the previous development of the Eastern Treatment Plant solar farm.

Issue 27, 15 January 2024

The Queensland government will strengthen protections for the rivers and floodplains of the Lake Eyre Basin by:

  • protecting more areas in the region through better mapping sensitive and fragile rivers and floodplains,
  • maintaining existing conventional production in those rivers and floodplains, but preventing future oil and gas production in those areas as well as ruling out unconventional gas extraction,
  • better recognising and conserving the special ecological features that make the region a global icon, such as braided channel networks and wildlife corridors, and unique species, and
  • working with First Nations Traditional Custodians to ensure their Country and cultural values are better protected, that their priorities and aspirations are supported.

The Queensland Department of Regional Development, Manufacturing and Water has released a report on the state's water plans in a variable and changing climate.

The Victorian government has released the Port Phillip Bay Coastal Hazard Assessment, which examines and maps the likely extent of flooding, erosion, and groundwater change over the coming decades.

Issue 26, 8 January 2024

The water trigger for assessment under the EPBC Act has been expanded to require independent, scientific consideration of likely significant impacts on water resources for all types of unconventional gas, not just coal seam gas.

The change resulted from negotiations between the government and the Greens over the Nature Repair Market Bill.

Issue 25, 18 December 2023

At COP28, Australia became a signatory to a new Joint declaration on ocean and climate action, pledging to consider ocean-based action in its national climate goals, and to develop a Sustainable Ocean Plan.

Other signatories include the US, the UK, France, Indonesia, and Fiji.

Australia also endorsed the Mangrove Breakthrough, which aims to secure the future of more than 15 million hectares of mangroves globally by 2030, underpinned by US$4 billion of sustainable finance.

Consultation opportunity. The Queensland government is inviting survey responses by 2 February to a review of the Reef Water Quality Improvement Plan.

Issue 24, 11 December 2023

New consultation opportunity. The federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry is surveying shipping operators about maritime recycling waste management arrangements, with responses due by 1 April.

Issue 23, 4 December 2023

Statutory development. The Senate has passed the Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill 2023, with amendments.

Issue 22, 27 November 2023

A new Reef Trust Water Quality Achievements report says Reef Trust investments have stopped 140,000 tonnes of fine sediment and 550,000 kilograms of dissolved inorganic nitrogen from entering the Reef since 2014.

Issue 20, 13 November 2023

A Senate Committee has released its report on the government's Water Amendment (Restoring our Rivers) Bill, with Labor senators calling for its passage with amendments.

Coalition senators opposed passage of the Bill, the Greens said the Bill should not be passed in its current form, and Senator Lidia Thorpe also called for amendments.

A Senate committee inquiring into climate change-related marine invasive species has unanimously recommended that the federal government develop a fishery for native sea urchins, known as Centro, which are becoming invasive in some areas due to climate change.

In additional comments, the Coalition said that "Australia’s fishing and broader marine industries have been exposed to a perfect storm of pressures", by the government.

"These have included the spread of marine seismic surveys, carbon storage, bans on different kinds of fishing and netting, and offshore wind farms," the Coalition said.

Issue 14, 25 September 2023

Australia has become a founding signatory to the High Seas Biodiversity Treaty, which is designed to strengthen protections for the ocean under the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. Signing of the treaty is a precursor to ratification.

The Queensland government has awarded Palladium and GreenCollar contracts to be brokers of Reef credits, which are earned by reducing dissolved nitrogen or fine sediment in Reef catchment waters.

The two organisations will help establish projects to generate Reef credits, and will also work to secure potential buyers of the credits.

Palladium will work with Griffith University on projects that rehabilitate eroded gullies on grazing properties. GreenCollar will work with a range of delivery partners and landholders.

Issue 13, 18 September 2023

The federal government has appointed Peter Harris AO to undertake an independent review into the Inspector-General for Water Compliance, which is responsible for water compliance in the Murray–Darling Basin.

Consultation opportunity. A Senate committee inquiry into the government's Water Amendment (Restoring Our Rivers) Bill is accepting submissions until 29 September.

Issue 11, 4 September 2023

The Office of the NSW Chief Scientist and Engineer has released the findings of its independent review into the 2023 mass fish deaths in the Darling-Baaka River at Menindee, finding that further mass fish deaths are likely due to poor regulation and climate change.

Issue 9, 21 August 2023

Transcript is now available from an 11 August hearing of a Senate committee inquiry into plastic pollution of oceans and waterways.

Issue 8, 14 August 2023

Consultation opportunity. The federal government is seeking comments by 21 September on whether to ratify a new high seas biodiversity treaty that was adopted by the United Nations on 19 June 2023. The treaty deals with marine genetic resources, area-based management tools in the high seas, environmental impact assessments, and capacity building.

Issue 3, 10 July 2023

Transcript is now available of recent public hearings convened by the Senate committee inquiry into plastic pollution in oceans and waterways.

The SA EPA has released an Aquatic Ecosystem Conditions Report for the Southern Spencer Gulf marine ecosystem.

The Marine Stewardship Council has recertified Western Australia's pearling industry under its sustainability standard. The MSC first certified the pearling industry in 2017.

Issue 2, 3 July 2023

The Independent Expert Scientific Committee on Coal Seam Gas and Large Coal Mining Development has released information guidelines on uncertainty analysis for groundwater modelling.


Issue 1, 26 June 2023

The Nature Repair Market Bill has passed the Legislative Assembly, with amendments, and is now in the Senate.


ESG Snapshot, 20 June 2023 (test issue)

Debate has started in the House of Representatives on the Nature Repair Market Bill.

The Murray-Darling Basin Authority has released its Roadmap to the 2026 Basin Plan Review.

Consultation opportunity
The Queensland government is seeking views on options to better protect the Queensland section of the Lake Eyre Basin, with comments due by 25 August.

The South Australian Budget provides funding to establish BioData SA, which will overhaul data held by the state and guide decision-making on biodiversity protection and restoration programs.

The Northern Territory government has released the first whole-of-government strategic plan for water.