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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

1 December 2002

Marine Debris Campaign Awarded Inaugural Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians


A grassroots collaboration between members of the fishing industry and surfers to remove marine debris from Tasmania's South West World Heritage Area coastline has been recognised with a new national award.

The inaugural Minister's Coastal Custodian Award was awarded today to organisers of the Tasmanian Marine Debris Campaign, a partnership between volunteers from the Australian Surfrider Foundation and fishers.

The award is in recognition of the effort of the volunteers who make biannual trips to the remote and uninhabited south-west coast of Tasmania to remove tonnes of marine debris, washed up from the vast Southern Ocean.

Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp said that it was time the campaign volunteers received recognition for their efforts. He made available a cheque for $3,500 to cover the cost of the next Campaign planned for February next year.

"A custodian is a keeper or guardian, and the volunteers of the Marine Debris Campaign have taken custodial responsibility for a valuable piece of Australian coast," Dr Kemp said.

"The cooperation shown in this case between members of the fishing industry and surfers is an example of what can be achieved when different ocean users work together in the development of regional marine plans around the country as part of Australia's Oceans Policy."

The Marine Debris Campaign was taking place within the South-east Marine Region, the first area to undergo regional marine planning in Australia, taking in the waters surrounding Tasmania, Victoria, eastern South Australia, southern New South Wales and south to Macquarie Island.

The first ever comprehensive management system for Australia's waters is a key Commonwealth initiative under Australia's Oceans Policy, announced in the International Year of the Ocean, 1998. Under the policy, the 15 million square kilometres of ocean under Australia's jurisdiction has been separated into large areas, based on their ecosystem characteristics. Regional management plans are being developed for each of these areas with the assistance of all ocean users including industry, recreational groups, Indigenous Australians, community and environmental organisations.

The South-east Regional Marine Plan, developed with the advice of the National Oceans Office, is due to be released in 2003.

"Whether the ocean is an income source, a place for recreation or a way of life, all users have a responsibility to keep it in good health," Dr Kemp said.

The Minister's Coastal Custodian Award will be presented annually to coincide with Coast Care Week, which this year runs between December 1-7. It will be presented annually by the Minister for Environment and Heritage to an organisation, group or individual deemed to have made an outstanding contribution to the coastal environment.

The Summer 2003 Marine Debris Campaign will involve more than 10 volunteers, some of whom will be transported by fishing boats from Hobart to Port Davey and others who will arrive in light planes at Melaleuca (pronounced Me-la-loo-ka). During the previous Campaign in the summer of 2001, local rock lobster fishermen transported more than two tonnes of rubbish back to Hobart, comprising a total of 6300 items of rubbish. This summer's Campaign will be the fourth.

The president of Surfrider Tasmania, a chapter of Surfrider Foundation, Australia, Mr Brad Mashman, said that the Marine Debris Campaign was helping to convey the message that it is not responsible behaviour to dispose of rubbish into the ocean.

"The fact that members of the fishing industry are helping with this campaign is evidence of a change of attitude against the wanton disposal of marine debris," Mr Mashman said.

During the Campaign all rubbish collected is recorded along with unusual or foreign objects. Mr Mashman said that the Campaign had a strong educative flavour and six Tasmanian schools were already acting as custodians for their local beaches by collecting rubbish and forming a data base of their debris' origin.

Media Contact:
(Dr Kemp): Catherine Job (02) 6277 7640 or 0408 648 400
(National Oceans Office): Richard Wilson 0419 699 682

Commonwealth of Australia