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Coasts and Oceans

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

2 June 2006

$37.7 million heralds new era for regional marine planning

The Australian Government will invest $37.7 million to accelerate its regional marine planning programme over the next four years, confirming Australia as the world leader in protection of marine resources and delivery of ecologically sustainable development in the marine environment.

The Australian Government's investment of $37.7 million over four years will develop comprehensive plans for Australia's 14 million square kilometre ocean jurisdiction.

The Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell said the plans would draw on Australia's growing marine science and socio-economic information base to provide a detailed picture of each marine region. The plans will describe each region's key habitats, plants, animals, and natural processes, as well as human uses and benefits and threats to the long-term ecological sustainability of the region.

"The accelerated timeframe for marine planning reflects streamlining in the process, which has been brought under the powerful Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Under the new approach, the focus will be on identifying the Australian Government's conservation priorities in each region," Senator Campbell said.

satellite map of Australia

Australia's marine planning regions.

"This will give industry a greater level of clarity about the conservation-related obligations that they face in each region. This will provide enhanced protection for the marine environment, without bureaucratic hurdles such as additional approval processes," he said.

The planning process will include identification of a network of marine protected areas as part of a range of conservation measures in each region.

Marine Bioregional Plans will be key reference documents for industry, and provide a knowledge base in each region to guide decision makers.

"Marine planning has already made significant contributions to science and increased our knowledge of the marine environment. Marine Bioregional Plans will help improve our understanding of the biodiversity of the marine environment and the economic potential of Australia's oceans by providing a clearer focus on conservation and sustainable management," Senator Campbell said.

For more information: www.deh.gov.au/about/publications/budget/2006

New coastal protection plan

Tugan beach in Queensland

Tugan beach in Queensland. Photo: DFAT

The Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, has launched a national plan to protect our precious coastal environment and to safeguard our coastal industries and communities.

“Australia’s coasts are one of our most valuable assets. Around 83 per cent of Australians live within 50 kilometres of our coasts and more and more have aspirations to do so. This makes it imperative that we act now to ensure sustainable development,” Senator Campbell said.

“The Australian Government is committed to providing leadership in addressing national coastal development. The new Framework and Implementation Plan for a National Cooperative Approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management is the latest evidence of this.”

The plan was developed by the Australian Government with the Northern Territory and state governments through the Natural Resource Management Ministerial Council. It provides complementary arrangements on national coastal issues, such as land and marine based sources of pollution, managing the impacts of climate change, introduced pest plants and animals, and planning for population change.

“Australian coasts have been going through a phase of rapid development in recent decades,” Senator Campbell said.

“This plan provides state and territory governments with a valuable resource to support future growth and development, while conserving the key values of our coasts.”

In addition to the Plan, the Australian Government is working to protect coasts with state and local governments and communities on a range of important coastal issues – through integrated coastal zone management, the Natural Heritage Trust and the Coastal Catchments Initiative.

The Australian Government has also invested in coastal research, including on scoping approaches to assess the vulnerability of Australia's coasts to climate change and ameliorating the effects of acid sulfate soils.

“Our coasts are a precious resource and it is up to all of us to work together and conserve them for years to come,” Senator Campbell said.

The Framework and Implementation Plan for a National Cooperative Approach to Integrated Coastal Zone Management is at www.deh.gov.au/coasts/publications/framework/index.html

Minister considers listing Orange Roughy as endangered

Orange roughy

Orange roughy. Photo: NORFANZ

Public comment is being sought on a recommendation to list Orange Roughy as an endangered species.

Orange Roughy is a commercially-targeted marine fish, primarily caught in the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery off the south-east coast of the mainland and around Tasmania. It is a slow maturing species that can live up to 150 years.

Expert advice from the Australian Government’s Threatened Species Scientific Committee has recommended that the Orange Roughy is eligible to be listed as endangered under federal environment law. Further analysis by the Department of Environment and Heritage supports the conclusion that the species in Australia has undergone an unplanned and severe decline in numbers.

“This is the first time a commercially-targeted species has been unambiguously recommended for protection under federal law,” said the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell.

“Even though there has already been a three month public comment period for this nomination, I have decided to release the advice for a period of four weeks for the public to consider.

“The Minister for Fisheries, Senator Eric Abetz, agrees that this additional comment period reflects the significance of the recommendation, and the fact that there will be a great deal of community and sectoral interest in it.

“In preparing its expert advice to me, the Threatened Species Scientific Committee has considered an extensive range of scientific research and studies and has widely consulted with a range of industry and scientific sources. My Department has undertaken further analysis of the reduction in biomass and whether, as a managed commercial species, the reduction is within planned ecologically sustainable limits or outside those management limits, thus placing the species at risk of extinction.

“My final decision must be based on the science of the species and its survival. I welcome any relevant input on the scientific advice which I will consider, together with the Committee’s advice, before making my decision."

The Committee’s advice together with the Department’s analysis is at www.deh.gov.au/biodiversity/threatened/index.html The final date for public comment is 15 June.

Discoveries from the Deep

Crew of the Rottnest

The voyage research team: Dr Peter Last (CSIRO), Dianne Bray (Museum Victoria), Al Graham (CSIRO), Mike Sugden (Hobart College)

A survey of the deep waters off Western Australia’s Rottnest Island has revealed fish species previously unknown to science.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the voyage was part of research that would underpin the Australian Government’s program of marine planning around Australia’s south-west waters.

“This voyage is part of the Australian Government’s marine science program, which is helping to fill the gaps in our knowledge of our marine environment,” Senator Campbell said.

“Before this cruise we knew more about the fishes off Heard Island than those found directly off Australia’s fourth largest city.

“We are learning all the time about our marine environment and our constantly improving information base allows us to plan confidently for future management”.

The survey program is a collaboration between the Department of the Environment and Heritage and CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, and has been conducted using the WA Department of Fisheries vessel RV Naturaliste, with the assistance of researchers from the State Government agency.

The Naturaliste spent a week at sea, undertaking deep water trawls on the continental shelf north and south of Rottnest Island. Four species are previously unknown to science and 10 more, which could not be positively identified, may also be new.

Fish collected during the survey have been freighted to Hobart for identification and their tissues DNA barcoded as part of the CSIRO Wealth from Oceans Flagship project. Information learned during the project will be invaluable as work starts on developing a marine bioregional plan for the waters of Australia’s South-west.

This plan will act as a key guidance document for the Government, sectoral managers and industry about the key conservation issues and priorities in the marine region.

Great Barrier Reef fishermen receive further assistance

The Australian Government continues to demonstrate its strong commitment to assist Queensland fishing and fishing related businesses affected by the declaration of the Marine Protected Areas in the Great Barrier Reef with a significant boost to the support available.

Crew of the Rottnest

Coral trout. Photo: CRC Reef

Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said: “The case has been made very strongly by Coalition members in far North Queensland, and in particular, the Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch, and Queensland National Party Senator Ron Boswell, that further enhancements were needed to ensure fairness for fishermen in the achievement of this great environmental outcome.”

The key enhancements to the Australian Government structural adjustment package are:

Senator Campbell said the enhancements related to Full Business Restructuring Assistance would be applied to grants already paid to businesses impacted by the rezoning.

“I am pleased to announce that additional funds have also been committed to enable my Department and the Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority (QRAA) to speed up the processing of applications following the late rush of applications received just before the closing date on 30 April.

Applicants impacted by Cyclone Larry have until 31 May 2006 to submit an application.

The Australian Government has already allocated some $87 million in assistance for fishing and related businesses, approving more than $64 million in grants to date to more than 600 fishermen and fishing related businesses to help them adjust to the rezoning. The package is now expanded even further.

“The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package is designed to help businesses manage the impacts of rezoning in the marine park, but other pressures have exacerbated the challenges faced by impacted businesses and the real tales of hardship cannot be ignored,” Senator Campbell said.

“It should not be forgotten that the Queensland Government decision soon after the rezoning to create the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Coast Marine Park, covering much of the Queensland state waters, had a big impact on the fishing industry. This was done without any assistance from the Queensland Government to impacted fishing families.”

Recent decisions by the Queensland Government to reduce the size of the fishing industry, such as the huge reduction in the reef line fishery introduced at the same time as the rezoning, have badly hurt fishing families and the businesses dependent on them. Queensland has provided no assistance.

“The Queensland Government should follow the Australian Government’s lead to provide generous assistance to Queensland fishermen. The Australian Government calls on the Queensland Government to match its commitment to Queensland fishing businesses by providing generous assistance to people affected by Queensland government decisions,” Senator Campbell said.

The Australian Government made the historic decision to expand protection for the Great Barrier Reef from about 4 per cent to some 33 per cent.

This decision has been applauded by clear thinking environmental groups around the world. In October last year the Australian Government was the recipient of the ‘Gift to the Earth’ award from the World Wide Fund for Nature for the protection of the Great Barrier Reef.

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