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Australian Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
23 November 2005
A network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Australia’s South-east Marine Region will be integrated with the fisheries management changes in the region as part of a $220 million national fisheries structural adjustment programme, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell announced today.
Senator Campbell said urgent changes were being introduced in the management of key Commonwealth fisheries in the region and these were being integrated with the development of an MPA network to ensure sustainable use of the marine environment.
“The industry should not face uncertainty, so the Australian Government will offer one combined assistance package for fisheries to adjust to the changes,” Senator Campbell said.
“The package comprises a $150 million fishing concession buy-out across a number of fisheries, including several operating in the South-east Marine Region, plus several complementary elements that will be delivered nationally.”
The other measures will include funding for business advice, fisheries management fee relief and assistance for land-based businesses most directly affected in regional ports.
“The Government’s actions will protect examples of the unique marine environment from within an area of ocean of about two million square kilometres off Tasmania, Victoria, southern New South Wales and eastern South Australia,” Senator Campbell said. The Government will finalise the south-east MPA network by the end of March 2006, and the MPAs will be declared as marine reserves under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.
Structural adjustment assistance would be open to both Australian and State Government licensed fishermen whose fishing effort would be displaced by the declaration of Commonwealth MPAs.
“The Government will release a draft MPA network for the south-east shortly and continue consultations with key stakeholder groups early in 2006,” Senator Campbell said.
“The consultation will allow the MPA boundaries to be refined to ensure we are getting the best possible conservation outcomes while minimising unnecessary impacts on industry.”
He said the need to accelerate MPA development in the south-east to accommodate the fisheries management changes had altered the MPA development process, but that the guidelines for MPA identification would remain the same.
“The March deadline for finalising MPAs is necessary to ensure affected fishermen are able to participate in the fisheries management concession buy-out with full knowledge of their future operating environment,” Senator Campbell said.
MPA development in other regions will occur as part of the updated regional marine planning process, with the provisions of adjustment assistance to address the impacts of displaced fishing to be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Renae Stoikos 02 6277 7640 or 0418 568 434