Department of the Environment

About us | Contact us | Publications

Header imagesHeader imagesHeader images

Coasts and Oceans


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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.

9 October 2007

YouTube anti-whaling video launched

The Australian Government has launched a video on YouTube about the ongoing global fight to stop whaling.

Presented by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull, a Japanese subtitled version of the video was also launched on Japanese YouTube.
The video is available at:

The video expresses the strongly held anti-whaling views of Australians. 'Teens Against Whaling's' Skye and Ayesha Bortoli are also in the video, along with a class of year seven students from Sydney.

Efforts to convince Japan to stop their so-called scientific whaling programme must be waged both at the International Whaling Commission and in the court of public opinion, particularly in Japan.

The Australian Government has also launched an interactive website to educate Australian and overseas school students about whales. This website is available at - Kids for Whales. The Kids for Whales site helps students to discover more about whales and dolphins and the types of activities that impact on their world.

The site takes users to an Australian whale research vessel, The Discovery, where they can explore five different rooms to find out how and why we need to protect whales and dolphins.

It uses interactive games, sound and film clips, and other techniques to engage students and stimulate curiosity.

Reef climate change vulnerability assessed

A southern right whale breaching.

A southern right whale breaching. Image courtesy Dave Watts.

Clown anemonefish. Image courtesy GBRMPA.

A pair of clown anemonefish shelter among the tentacles of sea anemonies in the Great Barrier Reef. Image courtesy GBRMPA.

More than 80 climate and tropical marine experts from around the world have contributed to the first comprehensive assessment of the Great Barrier Reef's vulnerability to climate change.

The publication entitled Climate Change and the Great Barrier Reef: A Vulnerability Assessment provides a synthesis of the implications of climate change for species, habitats and ecosystem processes on the Great Barrier Reef.

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull said the vulnerability assessment contributed to the understanding of the Great Barrier Reef and underlined the importance of the Australian Government's approach to mitigating the effects of climate change on the Reef.

"The Great Barrier Reef is a valuable social, environmental and economic resource, contributing over $6 billion each year to the Australian economy," Mr Turnbull said.

"This ground breaking study is a valuable tool, for helping us understand how to better protect and manage the Great Barrier Reef both now and into the future.

"The publication validates the Australian Government's commitment of almost $9 million over five years towards the Climate Change Action Plan to mitigate impacts of climate change on the Reef.

"The development of the Great Barrier Reef Climate Change Action Plan 2007-2012 represents a real investment in the preservation of the Great Barrier Reef for the future."

The Action Plan focuses on reducing climate-induced stresses, developing strategies to support the natural resilience of the ecosystem, promoting adaptation of industries and communities, and reducing climate footprints to ensure its long-term sustainability.

"This plan establishes a programme of practical actions that will complement existing strategies to maintain and restore resilience to the Great Barrier Reef such as the Zoning Plan and the Reef Water Quality Protection Plan," Minister Turnbull said.

The Australian Government is recognised internationally as a leader in protecting coral reefs from the impacts of climate change and the funds allocated to implementing the Action Plan are in addition to a considerable investment in research through the Marine and Tropical Science Research Facility and day-today management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Final call for entries for the Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians

80 mile beach in Western Australia. Image courtesy Jennifer Hoy.

80 mile beach in Western Australia. Image courtesy Jennifer Hoy.

Nominations for the 2007 Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians close on 19 October.

The award runs nationally with a winner announced by the Minister for the Environment and Water Resources in Coastcare Week, the first week of December. The winner will receive $5000 prize money.

The objectives of the award are to encourage a culture of custodianship among Australians for their coastal and marine environments and to foster partnerships and cooperation to this end between individuals, organisations, schools, business and industry.

Nominations will be judged in consideration of the following criteria:

More information and application form

No more confusion over your fish dinner

Red snapper. Image courtesy Marine Life Society of South Australia (MLSSA).

Red snapper. Image courtesy Marine Life Society of South Australia (MLSSA).

Families buying fish for dinner can soon have greater confidence that the fish they think they're buying – the species named on the label – will be the fish they taste when they get home.

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull has launched the first catalogue to accurately document the names of Australia's 4,500 known species of fish.

"Consumers, fisheries managers, conservationists and the seafood industry will be delighted to see a solution to a century of confusion over fish names," Mr Turnbull said.

"Consumers lose confidence in Australian seafood when they see the same fish sold under many different names, or one name used to cover a range of different species.

"Eight out of ten consumers say this is the biggest barrier to buying fish. The Zoological Catalogue of Australian Fishes which was funded by the Australian Government will help the seafood industry stamp out that confusion.

"The Zoological Catalogue of Australian Fishes is a vital tool for our $2 billion seafood industry – in fact the industry believes consistent naming is worth $30 million a year.

"This catalogue is also about informed choice – as well as improving the reliability of your fish dinner, honest and accurate naming will help consumers stop unscrupulous trade in rare fish species being sold under seemingly innocent names in Australia.

"Around 14 per cent of the world's fish species live in Australian waters. This massive work in documenting their names has enormous benefits for marine conservation. As fisheries managers and conservationists know, if you can't agree on the identity and name of a species, how can you be expected to manage it sustainably?"

The collaboration between scientists, industry and the Australian Government heralds a new era in consistent fish names around Australia. The Catalogue is the scientific underpinning of an Australian Standard for fish names, with agreed common or standard names that will now be progressively rolled out around the country.

New harvest strategy for Commonwealth fisheries

Fishing boat. Image courtesy Rick Eaves.

Fishing boat off the Central West Coast of Tasmania. Image courtesy Rick Eaves.

A new Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy for setting catch levels in Commonwealth-managed fisheries has been released by the Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz.

Senator Abetz said the strategy is a key element of the Australian Government's $220 million Securing Our Fishing Future package, announced in November 2005.

"The policy aims to maximise the net economic returns to the Australian community from the harvest of Commonwealth fish stocks, while at the same time maintaining stocks at safe and productive levels," Senator Abetz said.

It provides a framework for taking the available information about particular fish stocks and applying an evidence and risk-based approach to setting harvest levels on a fishery-by-fishery basis.

"The Strategy should give the community more confidence that Commonwealth fish stocks are being managed for long-term sustainability, and at the same time provide the fishing industry with a more certain operating environment where management decisions are more consistent, predictable and transparent."

The strategy was welcomed by the Commonwealth fishing industry: "We welcome the development of the Harvest Strategy Policy. It provides a solid framework for government and industry to work together to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries for current and future generations," said Michael Thomas, President of the Commonwealth Fisheries Association (CFA).

Global Marine Programme Leader of TRAFFIC, Glenn Sant, said: "We welcome this precautionary policy to address over-fishing and while these are the first steps in the right direction, real benefit will be measured by all our fish stocks being sustainable in the coming years." (TRAFFIC is a joint programme of WWF and IUCN - the world conservation union.)

The Australian Fisheries Management Authority will apply harvest strategies consistent with the policy in all Commonwealth fisheries by 1 January 2008.

For information and guidelines on the Commonwealth Fisheries Harvest Strategy Policy, see Harvest Strategy Policy.

More than $11 million for Queensland and Tasmanian fishing communities and businesses

Fishing boats. Image courtesy AFMA.

Fishing boats from the Northern Prawn Fishery (NPF). Image courtesy AFMA.

The Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz, announced $11.1 million dollars has been allocated to business and communities in Queensland and Tasmania under the Australian Government's $220 million Securing Our Fishing Future package.

In Queensland 27 businesses and communities will share in up to $6.3 million for both the Fishing Community Assistance and Onshore Business Assistance programmes.

Six Queensland-based businesses have also been granted exit packages totalling $600,000.

In Tasmania, 16 businesses and communities will share in more than $4.8 million under the same Australian Government grant schemes.

Senator Abetz said the Fishing Community Assistance grants were aimed at generating new economic and employment opportunities in towns affected by reduced fishing activity as a result of the Securing our Fishing Future package.

"While Onshore Business Assistance grants will assist businesses dependent on the Commonwealth fisheries sector to adjust their operations this brings the national total to 94 businesses and communities allocated with $29 million in assistance from this second round of the Onshore Business Assistance and Fishing Community Assistance Programmes," Senator Abetz said.

Details on a third round of Onshore Business Assistance will be made available shortly.

For more information on the Securing our Fishing Future package and a full list of the successful projects nation-wide under the second round of the Fishing Community Assistance and Onshore Business Development Assistance, visit Securing our fishing future.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority chairman appointed

The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull has announced the appointment of Dr Russell Reichelt as the Chairman of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. Dr Reichelt will take up his appointment in November 2007.

"Dr Reichelt has extensive experience in fields related to the functions of the Authority such as marine science, industry and oceans policy. He has been the Managing Director of the Reef and Rainforest Research Centre since 2006. Previously he was also the CEO of the CRC Reef Research Centre and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science," Mr Turnbull said.

"Dr Reichelt has previously been chairman of the Board of Seafood Services Australia Limited, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, the Great Barrier Reef Consultative Committee and the National Oceans Advisory Group."

Mr Turnbull thanked the outgoing Chairperson, the Honourable Virginia Chadwick for her distinguished record of achievement in managing the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority over the last eight years.

Since 1997 the Government has invested over $378 million in the protection and management of the Reef. Under the Government's stewardship sanctuary zones were increased to cover 30 per cent of the reef region, earning the Government a World Wide Fund for Nature "A Gift to the Earth Award".

Dr Reicheldt's appointment highlights the Australian Government's continuing commitment to the long term protection of the Great Barrier Reef. He will lead the Authority through a challenging and exciting period.

Implementing recommendations from the recent review of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975 is a priority. This will strengthen the future governance framework, increase transparency and engagement with stakeholders, and build on the collaborative arrangements with the Queensland Government.

Particularly attention will be given to:

Navy and Customs catch 61 foreign fishers in September

Illegal fishing vessels being brought into Darwin by HMAS Maitland. Image courtesy Department of Defence.

Five illegal foreign fishing vessels being escorted into Darwin by Armidale Class Patrol Boat HMAS Maitland following an operation coordinated by Border Protection Command. Image courtesy Department of Defence.

Six illegal foreign fishing vessels and 61 fishermen were brought into Darwin for investigation during northern Australian maritime patrols in September.

The patrols were co-ordinated by Border Protection Command and involved officers from Defence, Customs and the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA).

Five vessels were found fishing Australian waters north of Darwin near Evans Shoal. AFMA officers requested that the fresh trepang onboard be returned to the ocean.

The 57 crew were handed over to Customs in Darwin for processing and transferred to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Another foreign fishing boat was spotted by a Customs Coastwatch aircraft east of Cape York. Australian Customs intercepted and boarded the shark boat approximately 60 nautical miles south of Thursday Island.

The crew was taken to Weipa before being transferred to Darwin for further investigation.

"The continued success of these operations is due to commitment of all agencies involved to protect the Australian Fishing Zone against illegal activity," Deputy ADF Commander Border Protection Command, Air Commodore Ian Meyn said.

Oceans action Bulletin footer graphic