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Media Release
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Dr David Kemp

18 July 2003

Embargo Until 1130 am Friday 18 July 2003

Howard Government Achieves World First in Sustainable Oceans Management

A new era in oceans management was ushered in today with the release of the first regional marine plan under Australia's Oceans Policy.

Launching the draft South-east Regional Marine Plan in Melbourne, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage Dr David Kemp said that nowhere else in the world had ocean planning and management been attempted on such a scale and in such an integrated manner.

The Plan takes in more than two million square kilometres of Australia's ocean territory around Victoria, Tasmania, eastern South Australia and southern New South Wales, as well as the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island.

"This regional marine plan is the first of a series that will cover Australia's 16 million square kilometres of ocean territory,'' said Dr Kemp.

"It will put in place for the first time a whole of government framework for decision-making on oceans issues in Commonwealth waters. This will ensure that key ecosystems are protected, providing for the sustainable development of marine industries currently values at more than $30 billion a year.

"Future generations of Australians will recognise the importance of this milestone, which marks a new era of respect for the value of our oceans and their resources.''

Dr Kemp said that the new system of oceans management contained in Australia's Oceans Policy would equip us to avoid the resource management mistakes that have occurred in marine environments in other parts of the world.

"In the Northern hemisphere some of the most productive fisheries, such as the North Atlantic cod and pilchard fisheries have virtually collapsed, resulting in the devastation of ecosystems and the economies that depend upon them,'' Dr Kemp said.

"These are the types of disasters that we hope to prevent with the strong institutional arrangements at the heart of the Howard Government's Oceans Policy.

"The Government has invested more than $50 million in the development and implementation of Australia's Oceans Policy since it was announced in 1998.

"The unique feature of Australia's approach is its recognition of all users of our ocean, from commercial and recreational fishers, Indigenous Australians, the conservation sector, industries such as oil and gas, shipping and tourism and our coastal communities.

"We have also brought together Ministers onto a National Oceans Ministerial Board, including the portfolios of industry, science, transport, tourism and environment.

"For the first time this integrated system of oceans management takes all uses of our oceans into account rather than the sector-by-sector approach that was used previously. In this way, we take account of the cumulative effects of these ocean uses, on each other as well as on ecosystems, upon which regional marine planning is based.''

The South-east Marine Region makes a vital contribution to the economic and social fabric of Australia. More than 270,000 people work in marine-related industries in the Region, valued at $19 billion annually.

"Following rapid improvements in our understanding of the deep ocean and with world-leading marine management arrangements established, we will be well placed to develop our ocean resources for future generations,'' Dr Kemp said.

Media inquiries

See fact sheets in media kits for background information on:

Further details on the draft South-east Regional Marine Plan can also be found at the National Oceans Office Web Site

Area of the South-east Regional Marine Plan
Commonwealth of Australia