6 July 2007
The Australian Government yesterday announced the legal protection of the world's first temperate deep sea network of marine reserves, off the south-east coastline of Australia.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources,Malcolm Turnbull said the declaration represented a global landmark in marine environment protection.
"Taking in an area over three times the size of Tasmania, the network includes 13 new marine reserves in waters off southern New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and eastern South Australia," Mr Turnbull said.
"The reserves contain representative examples of the unique marine life and the undersea features of the region. They include undersea mountains higher than Mt Kosciusko, canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, and unique marine species that inhabit these ecosystems, found nowhere else on the planet."
"Totaling 226,000 square kilometres, this is the first such network of marine reserves at this scale in the world," Mr Turnbull said.
The reserves will come into effect on 3 September 2007 and comprise five different zones:
- sanctuary zones, where extractive uses are prohibited;
- benthic (sea floor) sanctuary zones, where extractive uses are prohibited in the area from 500 metres below sea level to the sea floor;
- multiple use zones, where only low-impact fishing methods and other activities are permitted;
- special purpose zones, where all commercial fishing is prohibited, but oil and gas activities and recreational fishing are permitted
- recreational use zones, where recreational and charter fishing are allowed, while other extractive activities are prohibited.
A digital bathymetric image of the South-east Marine Region, looking west.
Mr Turnbull said some fishing methods, such as bottom trawling, were banned throughout the network.
The declaration was a five year process involving:
- development of a comprehensive inventory of the best available science and information to support development of the reserve network;
- the development of science-based guidelines to help identify the undersea features and ecosystems that should be included in the reserves; and
- determination of the boundaries and zoning, involving lengthy consultations with marine industries and the conservation sector.
Mr Turnbull said the declaration demonstrated that internationally significant conservation gains can be achieved in Australia with the support of marine industries for the benefit of future generations.
Further details on the South-east Commonwealth Marine Reserve Network are available online at
The Australian Government has welcomed a Federal Court decision to fine a fisherman for fishing inside a Marine Protected Area.
The Court made findings that the skipper of an Australian commercial fishing vessel contravened the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the Act), by fishing within the Mermaid Reef Marine National Reserve.
Ropes. Image courtesy CSIRO.
A combined penalty and costs of more than $50,000 were imposed after the fisherman admitted entering the Reserve and engaging in fishing activities over a two-day period in January 2005.
The Department of the Environment and Water Resources manages an estate of marine protected areas that are Commonwealth reserves under the Act. The Mermaid Reef Marine National Nature Reserve is located about 300 kilometres to the north-west of Broome in Western Australia.
Evidence before the court, including admissions, demonstrated that the fisherman was responsible for conducting the fishing activities and that these activities were in contravention of the management plan for the Reserve.
During the two day period in which the contraventions took place, the Federal Court was told that the fisherman had caught more than 450 kilograms of the commercially-sold crustacean known as scampi.
The Federal Court's decision demonstrates the effectiveness of the Australian Government's compliance regime. The Department will continue to take the steps necessary to protect the integrity of Australia's national marine reserve system.
Image courtesy CSIRO.
The Australian Government announced funding for research into the effects of climate change on whales, the habitat of dolphins in the Indo-Pacific and whale strandings to mark World Oceans Day.
The Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull, said the suite of initiatives highlighted Australia's world-leading commitment to marine environmental protection and conservation.
"I am pleased to announce that Australia will initiate its own investigation into climate change and whales in the Antarctic," Mr Turnbull said.
"An Australian scientist will also chair an International Whaling Commission scientific workshop next year and explore the effects of global warming on whale populations."
Mr Turnbull said he was also pleased to mark World Oceans Day by announcing:
- $60,000 for protecting dolphin habitats in northern coastal waters;
- almost $60,000 for research into the age of stranded whales;
- $95,850 for research into southern right whale populations; and
- nearly $20,000 for research on how humpback whales interact in the western South Pacific region.
"The Australian Governments vision for the next five years is to create a permanent global ban on commercial whaling and the establishment of a system of marine reserves around Australia by 2012.
"Australia has made great advances in marine environmental protection over the past 11 years, including a 130 per cent increase to marine reserves areas and greater protection for the Great Barrier Reef," he said.
"This year the Australian Government will spend $925 million on marine and coastal protection and management."
Mr Turnbull said a very significant milestone was approaching under Australia's pioneering programme of Marine Bioregional Planning - the declaration of the world's largest network of marine reserves.
"Australia's Marine Bioregional Planning will result in world-leading environmental protection and a network of marine reserves that will preserve our unique marine habitats and species for future generations," Mr Turnbull said.
World Oceans Day was celebrated on 8 June.
Beach ripples. Image courtesy of AIMS.
The Australian Government has made $4 million available from the Natural Heritage Trust for the special purpose Coastal and Marine Round of the Envirofund (Round 10).
Round 10 targets actions that can assist individuals and communities in the management and improvement of foreshores, beaches, marine areas and estuaries and contribute to the protection of our coastal catchments, ecosystems and the marine environment.
Round 10 will provide funding for activities within the coastal zone, which includes coastal waters and those areas landwards of the coastal waters where there are processes or activities that affect the coast and its values, including coastal land, estuaries, beaches, offshore islands and other similar areas.
The Envirofund welcomes Round 10 applications from groups and individuals wishing to undertake coastal and marine projects. Some example activities include:
- on-ground works in coastal and marine areas such as fencing, weed removal and revegetation to protect and restore coastal habitats;
- activities to minimise disturbance to and/or reduce the impacts on sensitive coastal and marine areas including managing public access, protecting the marine environment and protecting culturally sensitive sites; and
- awareness-raising and community capacity building activities on marine and coastal issues, such as undertaking surveys, monitoring of water quality and quantity, conducting of workshops or field days and the production of educational resources.
Further details including further information, application forms and a full list of activities which are considered appropriate Envirofund projects, go to: http://www.nht.gov.au/envirofund/round10/index.html.
Sperm whale, Pilot Bay, off the west coast of Tasmania. Image courtesy Rick Eaves.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the decision at a United Nations wildlife trade conference which confirmed the ban on commercial whaling.
Japan had put forward a proposal to the UN Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) seeking support to review the prohibition of commercial trade in large whales with the ultimate aim of resuming commercial whaling.
Japan's proposal to review the listing of the large whales was an attempt to roll back protection for all whale species, with the ultimate aim of bypassing the moratorium on commercial whaling maintained by the International Whaling Commission (IWC) since 1986.
"The UN's decision to uphold the moratorium on commercial whaling is the right decision and one that Australia, together with our anti-whaling partners, will work hard to see locked in permanently," said Mr Turnbull said.
Mr Turnbull said the decision reinforced Australia's strong anti-whaling stance successfully pursued at the International Whaling Commission Meeting in Anchorage.
"The great outcome we had for whales at the IWC meeting and the rejection of Japan's request at the CITES conference, reinforces the point I've made before - that through the IWC, working with like-minded nations, we can exert pressure to prevent the resumption of this unnecessary broad-scale whale slaughter," said Mr Turnbull said.
The anti-whaling nations defeated proposals from pro-whaling nations to:
- support 'so-called' scientific whaling; and
- introduce commercial whaling by stealth through allowing 'coastal whaling'.
"Australia will now engage constructively in a proposed inter-sessional process to look at the future of the IWC. I'm encouraging nations around the world to embrace such talks because the future of whale conservation depends on this," said Mr Turnbull.
Fishing boat at dock. Image courtesy CSIRO.
There has been an overwhelming response to the second round call for applications for Onshore Business Assistance and Fishing Community Assistance, which is being provided under the Australian Government's $220 million Securing our Fishing Future package.
Minister for Fisheries and Conservation Senator Eric Abetz said that over 200 applications have been received from around Australia, far outstripping the total amount of funding available.
"Under the Onshore Business Assistance programme $23 million was set aside and another $20 million was allocated for the Fishing Community Assistance programme and there are applications for almost $85 million," Senator Abetz said
"With such a large number of applications and a limited pool of funding, there are inevitably going to be some projects that miss out.
"The good news is that the large number of applications means that projects to be funded will be of the highest quality and deliver maximum value to both local communities and the taxpayer."
The successful applicants are expected to be announced in late August.
AFMA Board chairman Mr Anthony Rundle. Image courtesy of AFMA.
Mr Tony Rundle has been re-appointed as Chairman of the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA). He was initially appointed Chairman of AFMA in September 2004. This will be his second three-year term.
Mr Brian Jeffriess has also been re-appointed as Deputy Chairman. The reappointment of Mr Rundle and Mr Jeffriess will help to provide stability to AFMA as it moves to an independent commission structure from 1 July 2008.
AFMA has also announced the appointment of Mr Glenn Hurry as its new Managing Director. Mr Hurry is well known and respected by the Australian fishing industry given his years of service in the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.
Mr Hurry has been the Chair of the FAO Committee of Fisheries and the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission. He has also been a Board member of the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation, an Advisory Board Member of the Australian National Centre for Ocean Resources and Security and Australia's Fisheries Commissioner to a number of regional fisheries commissions.
A banana prawn. Image courtesy AFMA.
Torres Strait prawn fishers will have access to unused Papua New Guinea fishing days in the Torres Strait prawn fishery following a landmark agreement struck between the Australian and Papua New Guinea Governments.
Australian Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz announced that temporary allocations of extra fishing days in the Torres Strait prawn fishery would be offered automatically to all holders of Torres prawn licences.
"Papua New Guinea has agreed to make its unused portion of the fishery - 2070 fishing days - available to Australian operators for the remainder of the 2007 season.
"The extra fishing days will be allocated according to their current share of the Australian fishery," Senator Abetz said.
Details on the temporary allocation and costs will be provided in correspondence with individual licensees and they will be administered by the Queensland Government.
The Australian Coral Reef Society Annual Conference will be held in Fremantle in Western Australia from 9-11 October 2007.
This year's theme is "East meets West: Science and Management of Australia's Coral Reefs".
Special sessions will be run for research conducted at Ningaloo and Scott reefs, in addition to sessions covering a range of topics and important issues relevant to coral reef research.
Submission of abstracts or posters closes on August 15. For further information go to: www.australiancoralreefsociety.org
Recreational fishing for sailfish off the coast of Broome, Western Australia. Image courtesy Steve Jackson.
The first round of funding for the Recreational Fishing Community Grants Programme has been announced by the Minister for Fisheries and Conservation, Senator Eric Abetz.
The successful applicants include:
- The National Marine Science Centre - a joint Project between the University of New England and the Southern Cross University - was allocated $72,000 to help teach children about the responsible handling and safe release of fish.
- In Scotts Head in NSW, a new project will construct a roof-covered fish cleaning table adjacent to the southern end of the Surf Club to reduce pollution on the beach and nearby rocks from discarded fish waste.
- In Wooli in NSW, a new two-storey multi-purpose marine radio base will be built and operated by the Wooli Volunteer Rescue Squad.
The Australian Government has allocated $15 million in funding over three years to help develop the recreational fishing experience in communities around Australia.
A collection of fishing line and hooks which was removed from 37 pelicans captured by Australian Seabird Rescue in 1992-93. Image courtesy Lance Ferris.
Residents of Western Australia are being asked by the Tangaroa Blue Ocean Care Society to register for the annual Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up, which is being held on 13 and 14 October this year.
Over the past two years more than 300 volunteers have removed over 20,000 pieces of marine debris from the coastline between Cape Leeuwin and Cape Naturaliste.
With funding from Coastwest and Keep Australia Beautiful Council, the Society is able to continue its South West Marine Debris Project, which focuses on removing and tracing marine debris off the south west coastline.
Through research, partnerships, workshops and education the Society hopes to reduce the amount of debris in the oceans and on beaches.
Heidi Taylor, of Tangaroa Blue, was awarded the Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians in 2005 for her work to organise the inaugural Cape to Cape Clean Up.
To register, send an email to email@example.com
The International Coral Reef Initiative has declared 2008 will be the International Year of the Reef (IYOR 2008).
IYOR 2008 is planned to be a year-long campaign of events and initiatives hosted by governments and non-governmental organisations around the world to promote conservation action for coral reef conservation. Communities and organisations are invited to participate in events.
International Year of the Reef 2008 aims to:
- strengthen awareness about the ecological, economic, social and cultural value of coral reefs and associated ecosystems;
- improve understanding of the critical threats to coral reefs and generate both practical and innovative solutions to reduce these threats; and
- generate urgent action at all levels to develop and implement effective management strategies for conservation and sustainable use of these ecosystems.
For further information go to: http://www.iyor.org