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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
14 December 2005
The Australian Government today released proposals for an extensive network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) covering 171,000 square kilometres of Commonwealth waters in the South-east Marine Region off Tasmania, Victoria, eastern South Australia and far southern New South Wales.
The Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell, said the South-east MPA network was the first representative network of deep water MPAs in the world and highlighted Australia’s international leadership in marine environment protection.
“The proposed MPA network covers an area two and half time the size of Tasmania and fourth fifths the size of Victoria,” Senator Campbell said. “It will build on the Howard Government’s already substantial record of establishing MPAs, such as those in the Great Australian Bight, Macquarie Island, Lord Howe Island, and the Tasmanian Seamounts.”
The proposed MPA network will now be subject to public consultation, with the Australian Government planning to have the final MPA boundaries settled by the end of March 2006 and formally declared under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act by the end of 2006.
“We have proposed a comprehensive MPA network offering substantial protection to the unique marine environment of the South-east, much of which is largely unexplored and doubtless harbours many unknown species,” Senator Campbell said.
He said creation of the South-east MPA network was the first step in establishing the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas in Commonwealth waters and would build on the state MPAs in the inshore and island waters of the region.
“The Australian Government is pushing ahead with its plan to have established a comprehensive network of MPAs around Australia by 2012 as one of the key outcomes of the regional marine planning process.
“The South-east MPAs will protect many significant features including undersea mountains and canyon systems which are known to have high biodiversity values.”
Senator Campbell said the Government had been working with key stakeholder groups for the past three years to develop the South-east MPA network in 11 broad areas of interest using agreed criteria and the best available scientific information.
Each of these 11 areas has been captured in the proposed MPA network.
“The proposed MPA network includes a mix of highly protected and multiple use areas,” Senator Campbell said.
He said the Australian Government had accelerated the South-east MPA process so that it could be integrated with the $220 million Securing Our Fishing Future package announced late last month.
“The Securing Our Fishing Future package will address the major problems of overfishing in Commonwealth managed fisheries and substantially reduce the industry to a scale that is ecologically sustainable and profitable for those who remain,” he said.
“We have committed $150 million to buy out fishermen in target fisheries around Australia as part of the fisheries reforms and in the South-east the buy out will also cover Commonwealth and state licensed fishermen impacted by the creation of MPAs.”
Senator Campbell said the finalisation of the MPA network was brought forward to the end of March 2006 so that fishermen impacted by the MPAs would be able to participate in the buyout.
“The details of the MPAs, together with information about the future management arrangements that will operate in the South-east fisheries, will ensure that fishermen are able to make informed decisions about whether to exit or stay in the industry,” he said.
He said the adjustment package included assistance not just for fishermen, but also for businesses and communities impacted by the fisheries management changes and the creation of MPAs in the South-east.
The South-east Marine Region encompasses 1.2 million square kilometres of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, stretching from Kangaroo Island off South Australia around Tasmania and up to Eden in New South Wales.
For details on the release of candidate Marine Protected Areas in the South-east Marine Region, go to http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/southeast/index.html
Renae Stoikos on 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434