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Coasts and Oceans

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Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.

Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

5 February 2007

New Minister for the Environment and Water Resources

The Member for Wentworth, the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP, was sworn in as the Australian Government Minister for the Environment and Water Resources on Tuesday, 30 January 2007.

Mr Turnbull replaces Senator, the Hon. Ian Campbell in the portfolio, which now takes in responsibility for water resources.

In recognition of the expanded policy responsibilities of the Department, the Prime Minister announced the appointment of an Assistant Minister, the Hon John Cobb MP, to the portfolio.

Acting Secretary of the Department, Ms Anthea Tinney congratulated Senator Campbell on his appointment to the portfolio of Human Services and outgoing Parliamentary Secretary, the Hon. Greg Hunt, who was appointed Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Foreign Affairs.

In recognition of the significant changes to the portfolio's responsibilities, the Department's name has been changed to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

Mr Turnbull was elected as the Federal Member for Wentworth at the general election on 9 October, 2004. He has had a long interest in water policy and water conservation in particular. On 24 January 2006 the Prime Minister appointed Mr Turnbull the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister with responsibility for water policy and the National Water Initiative.

Minister for The Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull MP.

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Malcolm Turnbull MP.

A Rhodes scholar, Mr Turnbull has worked in journalism, the law and business.

Marine planning pioneered in Australia's south-west oceans

A new, world-leading approach to marine planning has begun in Australia's south-western waters in a development that will benefit both the ocean environment and marine industries.

The South-West Marine Region - which stretches from the mid West Australian coast south around the Great Australian Bight to Kangaroo Island off South Australia - is the first Australian marine region to undergo planning under the recently strengthened national environment legislation.

The Plan is the first to be undertaken under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act) after the Australian Government announced changes to its marine planning process in late 2005. The new approach will for the first time provide a clear legislative base for marine conservation planning as well as greater certainty for marine industries.

Changes to the planning process will ensure broad engagement with community members, including conservation groups, industry and state governments, is central to the development of the Plan.

The South-west Marine Region.

The South-west Marine Region. Image: Department of the Environment and Water Resources.

An agreement between the Australian and Western Australian Governments will see marine planning occur concurrently for part of the inshore, State waters along the south coast as well as the vast Commonwealth waters which extend to 200 nautical miles from land.

The joint government approach seeks to ensure, where possible, a coordinated and cooperative approach to marine planning that will further advance the sound management and protection of Australia's marine resources.

The first stage of the South-west Marine Bioregional Planning process will be the production of the Regional Profile in the first half of 2007. The Profile will be followed by the draft and final South-west Marine Bioregional Plan, including a network of marine reserves.

A brochure describing the marine bioregional planning process for the South-west can be downloaded from www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mbp/publications/sw-brochure.html

Australia and France sign treaty against illegal fishing in the Southern ocean

Customs and Fisheries patrol boat Oceanic Viking (foreground) with French patrol vessel Floreal in the Southern Ocean.

Customs and Fisheries patrol boat Oceanic Viking (foreground) with French patrol vessel Floreal in the Southern Ocean. Photo courtesy of the Australian Customs Service.

Australia and France have signed a cooperative treaty to protect the fisheries resources of the Southern Ocean.

Australian Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz and French Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, M. Dominique Bussereau, signed a treaty between the two countries on the cooperative enforcement of their fisheries laws early in January.

The treaty applies in the exclusive economic zones (EEZ) of Australian and French Southern Ocean territories. It formalises cooperative enforcement by joint patrols in this region against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing vessels.

"The agreement will consolidate the strong cooperative relationship between Australia and France in our respective waters in the Southern Ocean," Senator Abetz said.

"The Australian Government is very pleased with the regular cooperative patrols with France in the Southern Ocean under the Australia-France Surveillance Treaty since 1 February 2005.

"Most French patrols now have Australian fisheries and Customs officers on board and we carry French officials on the Australian patrol vessel Oceanic Viking.

"This new treaty provides for substantial cooperative enforcement benefits for both countries. For example, the Agreement will allow French officers on an Australian patrol vessel to apprehend an alleged illegal fishing vessel in the French territory's EEZ."

The full text of the treaty will be available in February from the Treaties Database at www.austlii.edu.au

Review of Japan's whaling programme

Breaching humpback whale.

Breaching humpback whale. Photo: Mark Farrell.

Australian scientists are participating in a formal International Whaling Commission (IWC) review of Japan's first 18 year scientific whaling programme in the Southern Ocean (JARPA).

Australian scientists have been leading critics of Japan's scientific whaling programme.

The formal IWC review by the Scientific Committee in Tokyo is assessing whether JARPA provided information necessary for the management of whale populations and whether this information could have been gained through non-lethal research techniques.

Dr Nick Gales of the Australian Government Antarctic Division will participate in the review. Dr Gales and other authors have already published in the prestigious science journal Nature that scientific whaling was, and still is unnecessary for the management of whales in the Southern Ocean, and that management information can be collected using non-lethal research techniques.

A recent Australian survey of the Southern Ocean by the Australian Government Antarctic Division collected much of the information Japan says it is seeking on the Antarctic ecosystem.

Under JARPA, which ended in 2005, 6500 Antarctic minke whales were killed over the 18 years. Under JARPA II, 853 minke whales and 10 endangered fin whales have been killed so far in the Southern Ocean. The Japanese Antarctic whaling fleet is expected to kill another 935 minke and 10 fins this year.

The results of the IWC Scientific Committee review will be submitted to the IWC at its next annual meeting in Anchorage, Alaska in May 2007. Japan is not obliged to adhere to recommendations arising from the review.

In December 2006, the governments of Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Mexico, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States united to call upon Japan to halt its so-called scientific whaling operations.

New on-the-spot fines for green zone recreational fishing offences

New amendments to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMPA) Regulations have given Marine Park enforcement officers the ability to issue on-the-spot fines to recreational fishers found illegally fishing in green zones.

The new infringements notice offences attracting a fine of $1100 represent a significant change to the way minor recreational fishing offences are handled.

Less serious cases will continue to be dealt with by an advisory letter rather than a fine.

Previous arrangements meant recreational fishers found illegally fishing in a green zone were dealt with by the court system.

Federal Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch said that tying up the court system with simple recreational fishing offences was not an efficient use of resources for either the courts or Marine Park officers.

"My concern was anyone convicted of a breach, irrespective of the seriousness of the infringement, incurred a criminal record and the potential serious ramifications, which in my view was totally unacceptable," Mr Entsch said.

"This new system of infringement notices will give enforcement officers the option to deal with matters relating to recreational fishing in green zones quickly and effectively.

"On any given weekend, thousands of recreational fishers are out in the Marine Park. Occasionally some of these people do the wrong thing and it is important to have a system in place to deal with these occurrences in an appropriate and sensible way."

The area covered by Green Zones within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park was significantly increased in 2004 with the introduction of the GBRMPA's Representative Areas Programme.

Marine pests to take a dive in Western Australia

The introduced fan-worm.

The introduced fan-worm. Photo: CSIRO.

Aggressive marine invaders like the Asian mussel, European fanworm and Japanese goby are being targeted for eviction under a special project to protect Western Australia's marine environment.

The three-year, $674,000 project is funded by the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust, with cash and in-kind contributions from the Western Australian Government. It is being run through a partnership between regional natural resource management groups and the WA Department of Fisheries.

Some of the creatures living beneath the surface of our coastal waters don't belong there, and in fact can do serious long-term harm to ecosystems and marine industries that rely on them, such as aquaculture, commercial and recreational fishing and tourism. They also foul wharves and boats.

Another project will introduce national guidelines to prevent 'biofouling,' which happens when marine life attaches to ships or fishing gear. These attached pests could be moved to other areas, spreading the problem.

The work aligns with the National System for the Prevention and Management of Introduced Marine Pest Incursions - a continent-wide approach to the issue.

National monitoring will help people consistently track pest populations and manage ships' ballast water. This is water taken onboard for stability before a voyage begins, and sometimes it can carry pests to new places.

For more information on the project contact visit www.fish.wa.gov.au.
For more information about the Natural Heritage Trust visit www.nrm.gov.au

Marine mapping mission continues in Western Australia

Under the waters of Jurien Bay.

Under the waters of Jurien Bay. Photo:CSIRO

Cutting-edge underwater mapping technology is revealing the hidden depths of Western Australia's sea floor.

The $4.2 million Securing Western Australia's Marine Futures project, running for just under a year, uses hydroacoustic surveys and underwater video footage to generate sophisticated habitat maps of the marine environment from Kalbarri to Eucla.

Funded by the Australian Government's Natural Heritage Trust and the Western Australian Government, the project is a partnership between the South Coast Regional Initiative Planning Team, the University of Western Australia, Fugro Survey Pty Ltd and natural resource management agencies, with input from other marine stakeholders.

The Marine Futures project involves hydroacoustic surveys, video surveys, biodiversity surveys, research on human uses and a community outreach programme.

The team has already mapped more than 900 square kilometres of sea floor including Cape Naturaliste and Geographe Bay, Rottnest Island, Jurien Bay and the Abrolhos Islands.

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