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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment
5 September 1997
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has called for swifter action to implement a national system of marine protected areas.
In a speech delivered to the Humane Society International Dinner in Sydney, Senator Hill has stated the development of such a national system will be a key part of the Howard Government's Oceans Policy.
Senator Hill has said an Australian representative system of marine protected areas would exemplify the concept of sustainable development.
"Australia already has a network of marine protected areas - more than 300 covering a total area exceeding 463,000 sq km. However, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park accounts for almost three quarters of this area.
"The current network of Marine Protected Areas has developed in an ad-hoc way over time, reflecting particular conservation concerns as they have arisen.
"I recognise that a stronger, more strategic approach to marine protection is needed if we are to retain the full spectrum of marine biodiversity and ensure full representation of all aspects of Australia's marine environment.
I want to see an acceleration of action on the part of all Australian governments to meet the common goal of a national system of marine protected areas.
"In this respect, the Commonwealth can play a stronger leadership role in both developing marine protected areas in our own waters but also in encouraging the States and Northern Territory to follow suit.
"We are currently developing an action strategy to identify priority areas within Commonwealth waters for declaration and management as multiple use marine protected areas. Where these areas are adjacent to state waters we will engage the states to gain complimentary action in their management responsibilities.
"Both the community and non government organisations will be closely involved in this process.
"I am also keen to ensure that our various ocean industries are engaged in the process. Marine protected areas should not be seen as a threat to the viability of those industries and, if consistent with the conservation values we are seeking to protected, we believe that industry can have continuing access to natural resources within these areas.
"Through the Marine Protected Areas component of the Coast and Clean Seas Programme we will continue to stimulate the States to contribute to the nationally representative system within State waters."
(NOTE - speech delivered on Senator Hill's behalf by his Parliamentary Secretary, Senator Ian Macdonald.)
Media contact - Matt Brown 02 6277 7640 or 0419 693 515
September 5, 1997 (102/97)