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Coasts and Oceans


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Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time.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.

22 May 2009

New support for Coral Triangle Initiative – 15 May 2009 Minister Garrett release

Australian Environment Minister, Peter Garrett will today announce more than $2 million in immediate funding for critical projects for the Coral Triangle Initiative (CTI) at a meeting of the CTI nations in Manado, Indonesia.

Mr Garrett said Australia's funding is the first phase of an ongoing plan to support the CTI and would support early action by Coral Triangle countries as well as the permanent CTI Regional Secretariat.

"This investment will focus on areas where we can make the greatest contribution by sharing our knowledge and directly supporting capacity building in marine biodiversity conservation, sustainable fisheries, protecting vulnerable marine species and community empowerment," Mr Garrett said.

"The partnership between Indonesia, Timor Leste, the Philippines, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands is about ensuring better marine conservation and sustainable oceans management and I applaud the CTI nations for their vision and commitment."

On Wednesday the Minister joined world leaders, ministers and leading marine experts in signing the Manado Oceans Declaration.

Mr Garrett said Australia welcomed Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's leadership in hosting the World Oceans Conference and in developing the declaration.

"This declaration signifies a global consensus. Ocean health is a priority and we have to take collective action and not ignore the effects of climate change on oceans and coasts," Mr Garrett said.

"Our oceans and coasts are already under extreme pressure from climate change, expanding populations, coastal development, unsustainable and destructive fishing practices, marine invasive species, land run-off and marine pollution and this declaration is a call to governments to work together in responding to these threats. It is an important step forward," he said.

50th anniversary of Antarctic Treaty – 7 April 2009 Minister Garrett release

Iceberg Bits (DEWHA image database, copyright DEWHA)

Iceberg Bits (DEWHA image database, copyright DEWHA).

Ministers and officials from around the world gathered in Washington, USA, in April for a special event hosted by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to mark the 50th anniversary of the Antarctic Treaty.

Representing the Australian Government at the event, Environment Minister Peter Garrett said Australia was also very pleased to announce that it will host the 35th meeting of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meeting (ATCM) in 2012.

"It is fantastic to be in Washington representing Australia – one of the twelve original signatories - for this very special event, and I am also very pleased to announce that we will host the 2012 meeting,” Mr Garrett said.

Minister Garrett reiterated Australia's commitment to the Antarctic Treaty as the assembled Ministers adopted a declaration reflecting on the Treaty’s success in reserving Antarctica as a continent for peace and science.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority appointment – 15 April Minister Garrett release

Minister for the Environment, Peter Garrett, has announced the appointment of Daniel Gschwind as a member of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority.

GBRMPA Reefslope

GBRMPA Reefslope

“I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr Daniel Gschwind to the Marine Park Authority. Mr Gschwind’s knowledge, experience and connections within the tourism industry will be invaluable in this position,” said Mr Garrett.

The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and other Legislation Amendment Act 2008, requires that one member of the Authority have knowledge of or experience in the tourism industry associated with the Marine Park.

“Tourism is the single largest industry operating in the Great Barrier Reef, generating around $5.1 billion in economic value each year. His appointment reinforces that the tourism industry has an important role to play in protecting the Great Barrier Reef, so that future generations may also experience this incredible environmental asset,” said Mr Garrett.

Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority clarifies position regarding management of the Coral Sea and Zoning Plan review (Release provided by GBRMPA) – 27 April 2009 GBRMPA release

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), Dr Russell Reichelt, has provided clarification around the agency’s management role and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Zoning Plan 2003.

Dr Reichelt said the GBRMPA is responsible for the long-term protection, ecologically sustainable use, education and understanding of the Great Barrier Reef through the care and development of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

Image from Coral Sea

Image from Coral Sea

“Additionally, the GBRMPA provides advice to the Australian Government on the values of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area, and while some comments have suggested otherwise, the GBRMPA is not responsible for management of the Coral Sea,” said Dr Reichelt.

Dr Reichelt also said recent changes to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act meant that changes to zoning can not be made until at least July 2011, however this does not mean that there will be a review at that time.

“There is no planned review of, or statutory requirement to review the zoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2011. This is a matter solely at the discretion of the Environment Minister at that time.”

Support builds for automated reef watch – 7 April 2009 AIMS release

There is strong support for developing the next generation of a high-tech sensor network to watch over the health and resilience of the vast area of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR), a new study has found.

School of Bluestripe seaperch, swim along reef edge in deep blue ocean waters

School of Bluestripe seaperch, swim along reef edge in deep blue ocean waters

Reef managers and coral scientists are strongly in favour of developing an automated intelligent system for monitoring key aspects of water quality and factors affecting the health of the GBR, says Debora de Freitas of the ARC Centre of Excellence in Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University.

The proposed sensor network would build on the existing Great Barrier Reef Ocean Observing System (GBROOS) project by looking at inshore remote stations and by rolling out the next generation of high-tech sensors and systems.

"Like many other ecological systems, the GBR is threatened by the impact of humans and climate change. Although it is a challenge to collate and deliver the right data in a cost and time-effective manner, the use of real-time data from reef-based sensor arrays has great potential in policy and management decision making,” said Debora.

The article "Linking science and management in the adoption of sensor network technology in the Great Barrier Reef coast, Australia" was published in the latest issue of Computers, Environment and Urban Systems by Elsevier. Its authors are Debora de Freitas, Stuart Kininmonth (AIMS) and Simon Woodley.

"Protein miners" threatening northern fish stocks require concerted regional response – 7 April 2009 AIMS Release

Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing is devastating delicate ecosystems and fish breeding grounds in Australia’s north.

School of salmon fish

School of salmon fish

The practice can no longer be managed effectively by individual nations and now requires an urgent regional solution if food security into the future is to be maintained, according to a new scientific report.

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) fish ecologist Dr Mark Meekan, with Charles Darwin University ecologist Dr Iain Field, Dr Corey Bradshaw from the University of Adelaide and the South Australian Research & Development Institute, and Northern Territory fisheries scientist, Dr Rik Buckworth, have published a paper in the journal Fish and Fisheries*  that advocates a multi-lateral response to a problem that has grown out of control in recent decades.

"These IUU fishers are mining protein," Dr Meekan said. "There is no regard to sustainability or factoring in fish breeding or ecosystem protection."

"Regional responses are required to deter and monitor the illegal over-exploitation of fisheries resources, which is critical to secure ecosystem stability as climate change and other destructive human activities threaten food security," said the authors of the paper.

*The Fish and Fisheries paper, written by Iain Field, Mark Meekan, Rik Buckworth and Corey Bradshaw, is titled "Protein mining the world’s oceans: Australasia as an example of illegal expansion-and-displacement fishing".

To access, visit:

The secret life of tropical sponges comes to light – 9 April 2009 AIMS release

A new study has revealed the remarkable lifecycle of tropical marine sponges – and how their young perform amazing feats to ensure the survival of new generations.

Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) sponge ecologist Dr Steve Whalan, with colleagues from AIMS and James Cook University via the AIMS@JCU Joint Venture, has published a paper in Marine Ecology Progress Series1 documenting the study.

SEM image-of a larva of <em>Rhopaloeides odorabile</em>

SEM image-of a larva of Rhopaloeides odorabile Image: Kristin Bergauer

The research shows that sponge youngsters hold the key to survival of the mature organism. For a brief time also they can withstand higher temperatures than older sponges, an unexpected finding published in another paper2 by Dr Whalan and colleagues.

Dr Whalan and his colleagues studied the common Great Barrier Reef sponge species Rhopaloeides odorabile, investigating how larvae rise through the water column in response to light, dwell at the surface of the sea briefly, then fall back down to a favoured settlement point where they start to grow.

"For a creature without a nervous system, they are remarkably responsive to light and even seem to have a ‘memory’ of light that can stay with them after the light has gone," said Dr Whalan.

1The Marine Ecology Progress Series paper, written by Steve Whalan, Piers Ettinger-Epstein, Chris Battershill and Rocky de Nys is titled "Larval vertical migration and hierarchical selectivity of settlement in a brooding marine sponge". Go to

2The Coral Reefs paper written by Steve Whalan, Piers Ettinger-Epstein and Rocky de Nys is titled "The effect of temperature on larval pre-settlement duration and metamorphosis for the sponge, Rhopaloeides odorabile". Go to:

Research shows herbicides a concern to Reef – 9 April 2009 AIMS release

A comprehensive research program investigating pesticide residue run-off has revealed a suite of herbicides in rivers, creeks and marine waters within the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.

Diver in the Coral Sea

Diver in the Coral Sea

The runoff of pesticide residues were monitored in the Tully-Murray, Burdekin-Townsville and Mackay Whitsunday Regions over four wet seasons (2005- 2008), with a focus on key land uses within these regions.

Dr Stephen Lewis from the Australian Centre for Tropical Freshwater Research (ACTFR) at James Cook University said that the results show that a suite of herbicides including diuron, atrazine, ametryn and hexazinone have been commonly detected in waterways draining sugar cane lands.

"Some concentrations exceeded either locally-derived marine water quality trigger values for species protection or laboratory-based lowest observable effect levels for marine plants including coral zoozanthellae and seagrass," Dr Lewis said.

Dr Lewis presented the results of the study at the 2009 Annual Conference of the Marine and Tropical Sciences Research Facility (MTSRF) in Townsville on April 28.

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