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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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

1 September 2006

Great Barrier Reef bounces back

Coral trout numbers on protected offshore zones of the Great Barrier Reef are already higher as a result of the new Zoning Plan, according to data from recent monitoring.

The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, and Minister for Education, Science and Training, Julie Bishop, said the data demonstrated the positive benefits of new green zones throughout the Great Barrier Reef.

The monitoring, initiated by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, indicates the green zones established in mid-2004 in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park are already having a more positive than scientists expected.

The work was carried out by the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) and James Cook University and supported in part by funding from the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility.

Senator Campbell said these early positive results are great news for the long term future of the Great Barrier Reef and positive news for the many users of the Marine Park.

A coral trout. Image courtesy of James Cook University.

A coral trout. Image courtesy of James Cook University.

"These results are very encouraging and I am sure will be of particular interest to recreational and commercial fishermen. They will also be reassuring to tourism operations that rely on fish size and numbers to enhance the experiences of divers and visitors to the Great Barrier Reef," Senator Campbell said.

"The amount of both coral trout and stripey sea perch on protected inshore reefs in the Whitsunday Islands have also increased since the new Zoning Plan was introduced in July 2004.

"Fish stocks are likely to be enhanced and benefit tourism and fishing through improved health of the overall Great Barrier Reef ecosystem. As an additional benefit, there is likely to be an increased spill-over of adult fish and the transfer of juvenile fish from green zones to zones open to fishing.

"There will be ongoing reporting of what is happening with other popular species such as sweetlip and red emperor. The results also indicate the compliance programme designed to protect the Reef is working well."

Senator Campbell said the Australian Government was committed to maintaining the historic levels of protection of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and Australia was recognised as a world leader in Marine Protected Area (MPA) development.

The Zoning Plan significantly increased protection of the Park and provided a network of 'Green Zones', giving greater protection to the Reef's unique and precious biodiversity by prohibiting extractive activity.

It now provides one of the largest and best protected marine parks in the world.

Minister Bishop congratulated the researchers at AIMS and James Cook University on their efforts in working with the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

Support for Indigenous 'sea country' plan

Coastline around Galiwinku, Northern Territory. Photo: Ilse Kiessling

Coastline around Galiwinku, Northern Territory. Photo: Ilse Kiessling

A plan by a northern Australian Indigenous group to assist in marine surveillance and conservation of endangered species has received Australian Government support.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said the Dhimurru Sea Country Plan identifies opportunities for cooperation in marine and coastal management using traditional knowledge and contemporary science.

"This plan is consistent with the Government's approach to working with Indigenous people to address both community concerns and Government objectives," Senator Campbell said.

"The Yolngu people occupy a remote and isolated stretch of north-east Arnhem Land coastline, which presents opportunities for both Indigenous communities and the Australian Government.

"The plan identifies an opportunity for more formal surveillance arrangements for this remote coastline, which is increasingly important to combat the threat of illegal fishing.

"The Yolngu people and the Government are equally committed to marine conservation and the plan identifies opportunities to assist in the management of endangered species such as dugong and marine turtles."

The Dhimurru Sea Country Plan also identifies areas in which the Government can work with Yolngu people to reduce marine debris such as 'ghost nets' - abandoned and drifting nets - which are responsible for the deaths of marine turtles and many other species.

The plan calls for the engagement of both the Australian and Northern Territory Governments as well as non-government interests in the future management of marine and coastal areas for which Yolngu people have custodial responsibilities.

The Australian Government has contributed a total of $100,000 to the Dhimurru Land Management Aboriginal Corporation for the development and publication of the plan, through the Department of the Environment and Heritage and the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination.

The Northern Land Council contributed a further $20,000.

The Dhimurru Sea Country plan was launched at the Garma Festival, north-east Arnhem Land, in early August. It is downloadable online at http://www.dhimurru.com.au/sea.html

Bundaberg scallop ranching venture wins funding

Scallop boat. Image courtesy of FRDC.

Scallop boat. Image courtesy of FRDC.

Bundaberg's sea scallop ranching sector has received another boost from the Australian Government, with a $322,483 funding allocation under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Structural Adjustment Package.

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville MP said the money would fund capital purchases to help secure the project's viability.

"Queensland Sea Scallops Ltd (QSS) previously received $487,000 under the Sustainable Regions Program in 2003 to get it up and running, and these new funds will further bolster the enterprise," Mr Neville said.

"The end result will be a new industry to help alleviate the impact of rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef and the creation of new jobs - just what we want for the local region.

"Specifically, the money will go towards the purchase of a fast transport boat, a storage and packing shed, holding trays and pumping equipment, various fittings, and the rental of an established live holding tank facility and wharf access.

"Funding will also be spent on gaining various accreditations for the processing plant, training and company signage."

The QSS project involves the establishment of a land-based scallop hatchery near Bundaberg, where natural scallop breeding stock will be used to seed juvenile scallops back into selected seabeds in their natural environment in Hervey Bay.

"This venture will give the region the chance to be an internationally renowned source of aquaculture products and will produce the highest quality Hervey Bay Scallop, a product which is highly regarded within a niche premium international market," Mr Neville said.

The Community Assistance component of the GBRMP Structural Adjustment Package is administered under the Regional Partnerships program on behalf of the Department of the Environment and Hertiage.

Environmental assessment of Bass Strait scallop fishery

Commercial scallop. Image courtesy of FRDC.

Commercial scallop. Image courtesy of FRDC.

Public and industry submissions are being invited on export approval for scientific survey catches from the Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery.

A submission on the issue was made by the Australian Fishery Management Authority to the Department of the Environment and Heritage entitled Bass Strait Central Zone Scallop Fishery - Briefing for Export Approval for Scallops Taken During Scientific Surveys.

The submission will be used to assess the operation of scallop collection during scientific surveys under relevant parts of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).

Consideration will be given to:

Comment on this proposal is invited in accordance with the provisions of sections 146, 303FR and 303DC of the EPBC Act. Closing date for comments is Friday 8 September 2006.

Electronic copies of the submission are available for downloading at: http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/fisheries/commonwealth/bass-strait/briefing.html or a hard copy can be mailed.

Please provide your comments/submissions to:

Melissa Maly
Senior Fisheries Assessor
Sustainable Fisheries Section
Department of the Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 787
CANBERRA ACT 2601

Marine turtle education kit launched

Marine turtle. Image courtesy of Robert Thorne.

Marine turtle. Image courtesy of Robert Thorne.

A documentary-style DVD to teach young Australians about marine turtles has been developed by the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation to coincide with the International Year of the Turtle.

The educational kit One in a Thousand, which includes a series of teacher's resources, was funded as part of a three-year $350,000 research project into sea turtle conservation.

This DVD follows the story of a turtle found injured on a beach and highlights best practice techniques to maximise survival. It is also a source of comprehensive information on identification through to the turtle lifecycle.

The DVD was produced by turtle experts Carolyn Robins, a fishery scientist, and Dr Col Limpus, Head of the Queensland Turtle Research Program.

If you would like more information or would be interested in getting a copy of the "One in a Thousand Education Kit", please contact the FRDC on 02 6285 0400 or email frdc@frdc.com.au

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