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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage

Hill Announces New Seamounts Marine Reserve off Tasmania


19 May 1999

Federal Environment and Heritage Minister Robert Hill today announced the proclamation of Australia’s first exclusively deep-sea marine reserve, located 170 kilometres south of Hobart in Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.

The Tasmanian Seamounts Marine Reserve will protect unique and vulnerable seamount plants and animals within an area of approximately 370 square kilometres in Australia’s southern ocean.

"The declaration of the new marine reserve reflects the Howard government’s commitment to developing a nationally representative system of marine protected areas in Commonwealth waters and follows the declaration of the world’s second largest marine park in the Great Australian Bight last year," Senator Hill said.

"The seamount region off Tasmania is a distinct geological feature not found elsewhere on the continental margin of Australia. It includes 70 submerged and extinct volcanoes in water between 1000 and 2000 metres deep on the continental slope and supports an incredibly diverse range of bottom-living plants and animals, many of which are new to science and not found anywhere else in the world."

"Approximately 20 per cent of the region will be placed within the Reserve, ensuring full and secure protection of a representative sample of species. The area of the Reserve has not been trawled and is therefore in pristine condition."

Senator Hill said that management arrangements included an innovative vertical zoning system.

"The area below 500 metres will be highly protected, permitting neither fishing nor petroleum and mineral exploration."

"Based on advice from CSIRO, which found that the available evidence indicates that fishing within the upper 500 metres is unlikely to have a significant impact on the seamount-associated community, shallower waters will be a ‘managed resource zone’, allowing the fishing industry access to surface waters."

"However, trawling, which would damage the seabed and its fauna, will not be allowed in the Reserve."

"The declaration of the Reserve has followed extensive consultation with the community including the fishing industry and conservation groups."

Senator Hill said the remoteness of the Reserve provided an opportunity for the fishing industry to assist in monitoring and management. The Government would soon begin the task of working with stakeholders to develop a management plan for the Reserve.

Electronic copy of the map of the marine reserve and photos of seamount fauna are available at http://www.environment.gov.au/marine/marine_protected/seamounts/main.html

For further information:
Rod Bruem (Senator Hill’s office) 02 6277 7640 or 0411 128 582
Peter Taylor (Environment Australia) 02 6274 1759 or 0419 293 465

Commonwealth of Australia