3 November 2006
The Australian Government is one step closer to establishing one of the world's largest marine park networks with public consultation on the South-east Marine Park Area (MPA) commencing from 28 October.
The proposed network will be the first of a series of regional representative marine parks to be established around the nation.
Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator the Hon Ian Campbell, said the South East Marine Park Network will consist of 13 new Commonwealth reserves in south-eastern Australian waters with a combined area almost as big as Victoria.
"The current proposal comes after previous consultation, which began in December last year, with marine industries and other stakeholders. The initial rounds of consultation resulted in more than 20 changes to boundaries and zoning in the draft proposal," Senator Campbell said.
"The community has spoken and the Government has listened.
"The network will provide world-leading protection for the unique environment of the South-east Marine Region and help ensure a sustainable future for marine industries for generations to come.
"When the network is officially declared, it will cover a total area of 226,458 km2, equivalent to three times the area of Tasmania. This is a commitment of the Australian Government to deliver biodiversity conservation while allowing sustainable use of the marine environment.
"The south-east MPA proposal forms part of the Howard Government's commitment to provide $37.7 million over four years to ensure Australia's position as a global leader of marine resource management and conservation."
The proposed reserves are in Commonwealth waters (outside three nautical miles) within the South-east Marine Region, which stretches from the ocean off eastern South Australia, through Victoria, Tasmania and off southern New South Wales.
Senator Campbell said the declaration of these marine reserves would be a major contribution to building the National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas (NRSMPA) under which marine reserves will be established all around Australia by the Commonwealth, State and Northern Territory Governments.
Public comment on the proposed reserves must be received by the Department of the Environment and Heritage by Friday, 22 December.
More information including detailed descriptions of the areas, maps and fact sheets on each proposed MPA can be downloaded from http://www.deh.gov.au/coasts/mpa/southeast/index.html
The South-west Marine Region
Preliminary marine bioregional planning work is continuing for the South-west Marine Region, between Shark Bay off the Western Australian coast and the easternmost tip of Kangaroo Island, off South Australia.
Stay tuned for an announcement on the South-west Marine Bioregional Plan in coming weeks.
Australia's Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell said Iceland's decision to resume commercial whaling would increase the devastating human impact on the world's whale populations and damage that nation's international standing.
"Iceland's decision to authorise an annual hunt of 30 minke and nine fin whales (an internationally recognised endangered species) is completely reprehensible," Senator Campbell said.
Fin whales are listed under the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as 'endangered'. This means that they are 'facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild in the near future'.
Minke whale. Picture: Matt Curnock
"It is doubtful whether Iceland will be able to export the meat. This is because the fin whale is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Iceland has a formal exemption under CITES, but almost every other country which is a member of CITES will be banned from importing whale meat. Any country wishing to import whale meat from Iceland would risk international condemnation,'' Senator Campbell said.
"Even modern killing methods involve an unacceptable level of cruelty. The world no longer needs commercial whaling to meet its essential needs and this 19th Century practice needs to stop now.
"Iceland must realise that its decision to resume commercial whaling will damage its booming whale watching industry. There are a number of jobs in Iceland that are directly linked to its whale watching industry, which is reported to be Iceland's fastest growing tourism sector. Last year an estimated 70,000 British visitors went whale watching in Iceland.
"Iceland left the International Whaling Commission (IWC) in 1992, and re-joined in 2002 with a 'reservation' to the moratorium. Iceland believes that it is therefore not bound by the global ban on commercial whaling.
"When Iceland rejoined the IWC, Australia and 17 other pro-conservation countries formally registered an objection to Iceland's reservation. Australia considers Iceland's reservation is incompatible with the object and purpose of the Convention.
"Since Iceland re-joined the IWC it has been conducting 'scientific whaling' - just as Japan does - which is really thinly veiled commercial whaling.
"Iceland's decision is an international disgrace and the Australian Government will continue to work closely with pro-conservation allies towards a permanent ban on this archaic practice."
Nominations for the $5000 Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians 2006 are closing soon.
This the fifth year that the Award will be presented. Last year's Award was presented to Western Australian woman Heidi Taylor for her work organising the Cape to Cape Beach Clean Up from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin.
Minister for the Environment and Heritage Senator Ian Campbell
The Award encourages community stewardship of Australia's coastal and marine environments, fostering volunteerism and cooperative partnerships between individuals, organisations, schools, business and industry.
Nominating for the Minister's Award is simple. Apply in writing with a one-page summary profile (supporting materials may be included) by Friday 10 November 2006 to:
Minister's Award for Coastal Custodians 2006
c/- Marine Division
Department of the Environment and Heritage
GPO Box 2139
Hobart TAS 7001
Nominations can also be sent electronically to:
More details about the Minister's Award including eligibility criteria can be found at http:/www.deh.gov.au/coasts/coastalcustodians.html
A companion website has been launched with the Atlas of Australian Marine Fishing and Coastal Communities that enables members of the public to make their own maps with the data provided in the atlas.
A screen view of the online mapping tool
Students, researchers and those who work within the fishing industry will find the map-making online tool a highly valuable resource.
The map-making feature can be found online at http://adl.brs.gov.au/mapserv/fishcoast/mapper.html
The Atlas was produced by the Bureau of Rural Sciences with support from the Australian Department of the Environment and Heritage, the Fisheries Research and Development Corporation and State and Territory fisheries agencies.